Help! I need to write a CV.

We don’t need to tell you any more about the cliched “unprecedented times” that we’re experiencing just now. The fact is that the UK is experiencing is worst fall in employment rates in over a decade. Hundreds of thousands of people are now taking part in a Job Search that they hadn’t been planning for a few months ago.

For some, it might be the first time in many years that they have had to search for a new job and, as a result, the first time in a long time that they have had to put together a CV.

CV Preparation

Think of your CV as your personal sales presentation. Often the presentation will encourage or possibly even discourage people from showing an interest in your skills and experience so it has to be attractive, clear, interesting. This is your first point of sale contact – make sure it has impact and is inviting.

There are no hard and fast rules, CV writing is not set in stone (honestly, your CV doesn’t need to be a maximum of two pages long, regardless of how many times you have been told that!). These are my thoughts on how you should compose your CV but feel free to comment if you disagree and would like to pass on any alternative advice.

  • Use a simple, common, widely recognised typeface (we prefer Arial but here is a full article on the subject). Artistic or gimmicky fonts are not always professional and may put people off. Keep the same font throughout the CV. Changing fonts halfway through looks untidy. Keep your text black throughout the document. Lots of colourful text can put people off.Use sub headings to highlight different categories i.e. employment history, education etc. This helps employers go immediately to the information that they are most interested in.
  • Introduce yourself at the start, brief personal details such as name and contact information. There’s no point in making a great job of selling your experience if people don’t know how to contact you.
  • Follow your personal information with a brief profile, ideally no more than 3 or 4 sentences giving a snapshot view of your skills, experience and personality. Employers can immediately get an overall immediate impression. Include your technical skills including software, hardware & equipment that you have used.
  • Education comes next, don’t go back to when you were at primary school, employers are only interested in your senior education qualifications. Be sure to add any relevant training courses that you have attended. (Depending on how far through your career you are, you might want to place your education information after your employment history.)
  • Employment history should then follow starting with your most recent job. List your duties and key responsibilities clearly in bullet point format, also main achievements and skills you have acquired, don’t ramble. This should include the name of the company, dates of employment and position held.
  • Make sure you cover any gaps in employment e.g. maternity breaks, travelling etc. If you don’t employers will be suspicious.
  • Always check and double-check your CV. A spelling mistake may mean that you go straight on the no pile when short-listing a number of candidates for interview.

Good luck with your job search!

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