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Writing A CV

Writing an impressive curriculum vitae (CV) is often your first chance to make a good impression on a potential employer. It can significantly increase your chances of progressing to an interview.

Here are some essential tips to help you create a compelling CV.

1. Keep Your CV Concise and Easy to Read. Be aware that automated software may be used to screen your CV for suitability. Bearing in mind that the software will be searching for keywords, ensure that your wording is clear, concise and relevant. Your CV should ideally be no longer than two pages. Use clear headings, bullet points, and a readable font to make it easy for recruiters to skim through. A CV should be a summary to entice an employer to meet you for an interview and not a replacement for an interview. Ensure consistency in formatting, such as using the same style for dates, job titles, and headings.

2. Start With a Clear Header. Include your full name, contact information (phone number and email address) and optionally, a link to your professional online presence, for example LinkedIn profile ( see “How to Attract Employers Through Social Media”). Make sure you have checked all your social media to ensure they are professional and reflect you as a suitable candidate.

3. Write a Convincing Personal Statement. Craft a brief paragraph which is written in the third person, summarizing your professional background, skills and career goals. Tailor it to each job application by including keywords from the job specification, emphasising your relevant experience and key attributes. This should be one to two succinct sentences.

4. Tailor Your CV With Keywords. Litter your CV with the keywords that relate to the job you are applying for. AI software which is increasingly used by larger companies will pick out a CV based on keywords that match the job specification. Customise your CV for every job you apply for. Study the job description, identify the key requirements and ensure that your CV emphasises the skills and experiences that match those requirements. This helps you stand out as a strong candidate.

5. Order Your CV. This depends on which area you wish to highlight first. Is your academic most relevant or your experience? If you are a senior, experienced candidate then your education would be best placed after your work experience. If you are a recent graduate and your excellent academics are the highlight of what you have to offer your prospective employer, then this should be placed directly below your personal details. If you wish to hide any aspect of your history, write less about it. Make it brief but make sure there are no gaps in dates. Every year should be accounted for by academic studies, work experience, travelling or maternity leave, etc. so it is clear to see your history.

6. Highlight Your Key Skills. Create a dedicated section to showcase your skills and competencies. Include both hard skills (e.g. languages including level (mother tongue, fluent, good, basic), software used including proficiency (Advanced, Intermediate, Basic), typing speed, shorthand, audio skills, and soft skills (e.g. communication, leadership abilities). Refer to the job description to identify skills that align with the role you are applying for. Remember keywords.

7. Detail Your Work Experience. List your work history in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position. For each role, mention the job title, company name, employment dates and provide a concise description of your responsibilities and achievements. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible. Try to avoid long paragraphs. Bullet points are useful here. Balance the amount of information about each job with the length of time spent in that role. Equally, information about more recent work experience should be more detailed than roles from the start of your career. Detail jobs that are most relevant to the job specification or roles you ideally want to work in especially if you have changed careers. Detail and highlight the one you are applying for and shorten the one you are moving from even if it is the most recent. Combine periods of temping and contracting together so that your CV does not make you look transient.

8. Showcase Your Education. Include your academic qualifications, starting with your most recent degree or professional qualification and include A levels and GCSEs if taken. Mention the institution, the certificate achieved and the year of completion. If you recently graduated or lack extensive work experience, highlight relevant coursework, projects, or academic achievements.

9. Include Additional Sections. Consider adding extra sections to enhance your CV’s comprehensiveness and suitability for a role. These may include professional certifications, language proficiency, voluntary experience, publications, professional memberships or relevant hobbies. However, only include sections that are relevant and add value to your application. Remember keywords.

10. Proofread and Edit. So many candidates are rejected because of CV errors. At RMS,we do not rewrite your CV as it reflects your own abilities for writing, attention to detail, spelling grammar and organisation of thought. Thoroughly review your CV before sending it out. Look for grammatical errors, typos, consistency and ensure the information provided is accurate. It is often helpful to ask a friend or mentor to proofread it for you to catch any mistakes you might have missed.

11. Update Regularly. Keep your CV up to date, especially when you acquire new skills, gain additional work experience or complete relevant training. This ensures you will have a current version ready whenever an opportunity arises. Check all the points above each time you look for a new job.

Remember, your CV reflects your professional identity. By following these guidelines and tailoring them to each application, you will increase your chances of capturing the attention of potential employers and securing your ideal job.

Checklist

  • Keywords: include all key skills in the job spec in your CV.
  • Personal Information: check social media profiles are professional.
  • Academic qualifications: at the top or bottom depending on your level.
  • Work experience: edit detail according to relevance for job, length of service and when it was. Combine temp jobs and contracts if they make your CV look transient.
  • Additional qualifications: add in courses taken and skills gained.
  • Check for mistakes and then check again.