Your CV is one of your most important assets when you’re looking for a new job but you have to remember that it’s not all about you.
You need to make sure it includes the information that a prospective employer considers important.
There is no absolute formula for how you should set out your CV but the following structure is the one likely to make the best impression with employers (it also has the benefit of being the most common format and so is the easiest for employers to compare with other candidates).
Personal details - Name, contact information, nationality (but no photo). Repeat your contact information at the top of each page.
Personal profile - A short, single paragraph outlining your skills and experience.
Employment history - Include company name, job title, your responsibilities and achievements. Don’t leave any gaps between jobs.
Qualifications -Unless you’re applying for your first job, don’t list every GCSE result. Shorten it to “10 GCSEs, including Maths A* and English B” or something similar.
Interests - Not essential but it can be useful to show that you’re not just a work slave. Remember to keep it short.
There are several other things you can do to ensure that your CV hits the mark every time:
Create a master CV - Keep one all-encompassing CV on file, listing all of your employment information but never send it out. Use it as the basis for each job application.
Start from scratch - Create a new CV for every job. Your first CV was written from the perspective of a junior employee so don’t just add your latest job details to it, rewrite it!
Sell yourself - Use your personal statement to sell yourself in two or three punchy sentences that outline who you are and what you’re capable of.
Keep it brief - When you’re starting out in your career, you’ll struggle to fill one side of A4 but even when you’re many years (and jobs) down the line, you should still limit your CV to two pages. Employers don’t want to know everything about you – they can ask for more information if they interview you.
Keep it clear - Avoid using jargon – use plain, clear language and keep the tone positive but professional. And while we’re on the subject of things to leave out, don’t use graphics, unusual fonts or colours. Your CV should be clear and easy to read, not distracting.
Get advice - Ask three people to read your CV and give their honest opinion. Choose friends and trusted colleagues who know you well and who have some idea of the work you do. Be prepared to make big changes!
Proof-read and proof-read - This could be your first contact with a prospective employer, so don’t give them a reason to reject you just because you haven’t checked your spelling or grammar. Above all, make sure that your contact information is correct. You don’t want to miss out because you’ve mistyped your email address.