How to write a great CV

Getting your CV noticed in 6 seconds 

Many employers are inundated with CVs, so it’s not surprising that they have very little time to spend on each CV when they’re shortlisting candidates for new jobs. 

It might come as a bit of a shock, but the time spent looking at applications and CVs can be as little as just six seconds! 

How do you manage to get an employer to make a favourable judgement on your CV and add it to the ‘yes’ pile in so little time I hear you ask? 

As the MD of a team of experienced and qualified Recruitment Consultants, here are some tips to help you write your Killer CV. 

Use headers and bullet points 

Have you ever tried to absorb three or four large paragraphs of information whilst attempting to pick out key pieces of information? Difficult, isn’t it? However, if you use well placed headers and bullet points in your CV to highlight this information then it’s far easier for recruiters to pick up your key skills, qualifications and experience. This will also make your CV easier to read and navigate around. 

What format should it take? 

Here are the key headers that you should use to help any employer find the information they need quickly and easily: 

  • Your name and contact information  
  • Personal Statement 
  • Qualifications and training  
  • Previous role titles and dates
  • Key responsibilities  

Download our free CV template 

Under these headings use bullet points with the information that is most relevant to the role you are applying for at the top.  

With previous roles, it’s a good idea to put your previous employer’s company name and job title in bold to help them stand out.  

If you’re a more mature candidate you may want to put your experience before your qualifications, as it’s more relevant than qualifications you did 20 years ago. 

Tailor your CV to the job 

Remember that recruiters want to quickly pick out the candidates that have the work experience and skills listed on their job description. Generic CV’s only prove to the employer that you haven’t really put as much time, thought and effort into your application, so make sure you tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for.  

Bullet point skills and experience you have that meet the responsibilities of the role with the most relevant at the top so they are the first thing the employer will notice whilst skimming over your CV. When discussing previous roles or achievements, giving details of what you did and the impact it had for the business will help you get shortlisted.  

Top tips for CVs – Dos and Don’ts 

Don’t list every single detail of your previous roles and responsibilities

Although it’s common to give an overview of the duties and responsibilities you held in previous roles, employers are far more interested in your accomplishments and achievements during your time with your old employer so focus your attention on this. This will also keep your CV concise. 

Don’t list all your personal details 

By law, you only need to give the bare minimum of personal information on your CV to safeguard against discrimination. Therefore, giving all this information away at the start can hinder employers when they are shortlisting candidates for an interview.
Of course include your name, address or general location (although this isn’t mandatory) and contact details so they can get in touch with you easily. 

Don’t state your salary expectations 

You could be selling yourself short or be requesting far more than the employer has in their budget for the role. Remember, many opportunities come with added perks so it’s best to discuss the package when the time is right. 

Don’t write your personal statement first 

Although this is one of the first things on your CV it’s a good idea to write this after you’ve completed the rest of your CV. It should be a concise summary of why you think you are ideal for the job. And remember to sell yourself. 

Do list previous roles in historical order 

Make sure that your employment history is in order starting with your most recent job. If there is a gap in your jobs, explain why. For example, explain if you took a career break to look after a family member or children. Gaps in your history will just lead to speculation. 

Do leave references for later

References are certainly one of the top things you should leave off your CV. By law, references should only be sought once an offer of employment has been made and accepted. Think about it, how would your current employer feel if they received a reference request out of the blue and you hadn’t even been offered the job?  

Do check for spelling 

I see lots of CVs with spelling mistakes on, this gives the impression you don’t care. When you’ve read something over and over you can get word blind. Make sure you double check your CV for grammar and spelling, or even better, get a friend to proofread it for you. Keep it short and make sure you’re not repeating yourself. 

Do use plain English

Writing actively, using shorter sentences and avoiding jargon will make your application, not only easier to read, but also shorter. Remember the 6 second guideline, waffling on for pages will get you noticed for the wrong reasons.  

Do include some hobbies 

Including some hobbies will help to give you some character. However, you don’t need a never-ending list. If you’re applying to a company with strong Corporate Social Responsibility including volunteer work shows you are aligned to their corporate values too. 

Do remember your CV is your sales pitch for the job 

It can be difficult talking about yourself but remember this is your chance to make a great first impression.

If you’d like some free expert advice on how to get your CV ready to pass the six second rule, register for our Writing a Killer CV Webinar now.