What is a CV?
A CV is all about you, used to document your skills, abilities and experience. Designed to show off what you can do. A CV is a detailed concise document, don’t waffle. Writing a CV that is in the wrong format leaves it at the risk of being binned. Out of 100 CVs, only 10 will be chosen, so it is tricky business. However, it is achievable, bag yourself an interview with a killer CV. You are trying to sell yourself! Sell the skills and abilities you have; how will these benefit the company you are applying for?
Not only will the CV used to bag you the interview, it can also be used afterwards as a refresher of what you can do. So make sure you get it right by reading through our advice and tips.
What should you include?
When writing a CV make sure that it is all relevant, and all information is adding value. Tailor your CV to EVERY single job. You CANNOT have one generic CV. You want to make yourself look as suited to the role as possible. But, don’t lie, if you get an interview they might find out.
We recommend you include the following:
- Contact details
- Personal statement
- Facts about your skills
- Make sure that the contact details you provide will remain relevant, CVs can be kept for a long time.
- Use a daytime telephone number, such as a mobile.
- Include an email address that you will have for life, such as GMAIL or HOTMAIL. Don’t use a school or college email, as this will only be used for a limited period of time while you are a student. Make it sensible as this will be seen by potential employers.
You can have an introductory paragraph if you are applying for a specific job. This is good if it is clear this job will help you reach your personal goals/career goals. Don’t highlight the fact that the job isn’t going to get you where you want to be!
- Write this in reverse order by dates. It is important to include start and end dates here.
- Display concise information about what the job entailed and what your responsibilities were.
- What did you gain from the role?
- Do you have any time gaps between employment? If so make sure you explain what it is you were doing during this period of time. E.g. travelling/charity work.
- When filling in this part of your CV, use active verbs such as “experienced”, “trained in”, “managed a project involving”, “developed” etc. Bullet point these at the start of a sentence for maximum impact. Try to avoid using “I” at the start of sentences.
- You don’t have to list every single qualification you have. It is ok to say, for example; 10 grades at GCSE level A-C including English, Maths and ICT.
- Include your A-Level and BTEC Qualifications (If you have them).
Hobbies and Interests
- This section of the CV isn’t mandatory and can be left out.
- If you are including this section into your CV make sure it adds value.
- Good examples are things like Scouts and Duke of Edinburgh.
- These show commitment and indicate that you are a team player!
- Don’t use the old boring clichés here, such as, “I like socialising with friends”.
- Keep this section very brief, don’t just list all your hobbies and interests to fill in space.
What formatting should you use?
As previously mentioned good format is key.
- Always have a CV that is typed, do not handwrite.
- No longer than 2 sides of A4.
- Display your most important information on page 1.
- Although a CV can be 2 pages long, it isn’t compulsory, you can have a concise 1-page CV.
- Make the layout clear and easy to read.
- Use sensible margin spaces.
- Bullet points are a good way to save on space.
- Make sure you are using high-impact statements.
- Ensure your CV is easy reading, make sure the employer WANTS to ready YOUR CV.
- Tailor your CV to each role.
- Include titles that the employer will be looking for.
- Flashy designs can be off-putting.
- Don’t include any previous salaries you may have received, unless requested to.
What language is appropriate for your CV?
- Don’t constantly use the word “I”. Try to write your CV in third-person.
- Always be honest in your CV, make sure you are always able to and willing to explain what you have mentioned.
- Don’t over compliment your language, keep it simple and give examples.
- Employers don’t always like it if you have had lots of different jobs across lots of different sectors. It can show you aren’t sure what job is for you. Why not turn this into a positive? How can your broad knowledge base across multiple industries benefit them?
- Use keywords that the employer is looking for.
What is best left out of your CV?
- Information that isn’t relevant - it wastes valuable space. You only have 2 pages to sell yourself, use it wisely.
- Fancy borders, hard to read fonts and title pages.
- Don’t head the document CV or curriculum vitae - an employer knows what it is. You want your name to be the first thing they see, so they remember it.
- Document page numbers.
- A picture of yourself. Employers cannot discriminate against any appearances, so don’t waste the space. They will see your face when they call you in for an interview.
- Consider the most likely questions that you are going to be asked before you even get to the interview
- Research the company and job role.
- Consider your appearances - make sure you look smart! Dress to impress.
- Focus - Listen to what the interviewer is saying.
- Smile - look like you want to be there.
- Ask something - make sure that you have a couple of questions to ask the interviewer.
- Make notes - making notes makes you look interested in the role.
- End positively - thank the interviewer for their time.
What questions commonly come up?
- Tell me about yourself?
- Why do you want this job?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Can you give an example of when you had to cope with a difficult situation?
- What has been your greatest achievement?
- What are your goals?
- Why should I hire you?
- Do you have any questions?
On the day essentials
- Have an early night/quiet night if possible.
- Have the travel route you are going to take planned.
- Make sure you have what you want to wear ready.
- Have a decent breakfast so you feel energised for your interview, and so you don’t get "rumbly-tummy" syndrome.
Feeling the fear
Most candidates do get nervous before an interview, this is completely normal.
- Try to channel the nervousness into positive energies.
- Remember the interviewer(s) may also be nervous.
- No one will mark you down in an interview for being nervous - some people say it shows you care!
- Normally you will actually make a worse impression by looking complacent or superior.
Focus on your body language
- The interview starts the minute you walk through the door, sometimes they can even see you in the car park!
- Smile, this helps create a positive atmosphere.
- Make sure you have eye contact with the interviewer(s) - this helps to show confidence and interest.
- The occasional head nodding shows interest, as well as good posture while sitting down.
- Don’t slouch or cross your arms.