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CV writing tips

05 Jun


No matter how high-tech your industry is and how software-savvy you are, a well-written, properly formatted CV tailored to your industry and specialism is still one of the most important tools you can have in your job search kit.

Whether you’re ready to apply for your dream job or simply want to update your CV so it’s future-proof, the following tips should help you put your best foot forward.

Move the most important information to the top

A good rule of thumb is to ensure the top one-third of your CV contains the most relevant - and the best - information about you, your skills and your work experience. This is the section that employers spend the most time assessing to establish whether you’re a good fit for a role, so it’s a valuable piece of real estate in your job hunt. Maximise this by selling your key skills in an introductory or summary paragraph, where you can introduce yourself, identify why you’re a great asset for an organisation and explain what you’re looking for in a job. Include quantifiable information in your summary – rather than saying you’re a strong leader who gets results, say you’ve lead a team of 10 people to achieve record-breaking monthly store sales. Highlight the core skills, qualifications and achievements most relevant to the position you’re applying for, carefully reading the job description to identify where you’ll add value.

Your employment history should include the most recent positions first, highlighting achievements, skills learned and responsibilities. It’s not enough to simply you say you worked at an organisation in a particular role – you need to emphasise the impact you made while in that position. The top third of your CV is also a key place to mention examples of your work or places where employers can find more detail – for example, your LinkedIn profile, online portfolio or personal website.

Stand out from the pack

What makes you different? While your CV should focus mainly on the skills and experience that make you a good fit for the role, it pays to include a few hobbies and interests that shine a light on what you’re like as a person and show employers whether you’ll fit into their company culture. Select a few favourite pastimes to include – bonus points if they are professionally relevant as well as interesting! For example, your improv lessons might be beneficial for a role that requires you to be outgoing and friendly, while long-distance running shows you are committed and enjoy challenges.

Keep it short and simple

As a general rule of thumb, a CV should be no longer than two sides of a sheet of A4 paper. If you’re a graduate or looking for entry-level positions, you may be able to condense your information onto one page, while senior-level jobseekers with lots of niche experience may find themselves filling up more space.

Your CV should be concise, snappy and to the point, focusing on your key selling points and using every word wisely to put your best foot forward.

Make your CV searchable

Employers and recruiters are increasingly using software to do preliminary scans on CVs they receive. With the average corporate job opening attracting 250 applications, according to Glassdoor statistics, it makes sense that those involved in the hiring process turn to technology to help wade through CVs and identify qualified candidates.

In order to achieve this, keep your CV’s formatting simple and straightforward. Avoid too many colours and images, non-standard fonts, special characters and acronyms – while jargon and shorthand might be standard in your industry, scanners may not recognise these. Instead, write qualifications, certifications, programmes and titles out in full, as software will be more likely to identify these as keywords that make you relevant for the position. Even if your CV isn’t passed through any scanning software, presenting it in this way makes it easier for hirers to read and find the most important information.

Ask someone to proofread it

No matter how many times you proofread your CV yourself, there will likely still be an error hiding in there somewhere. And as 59% of recruiters will reject a candidate because of poor grammar or a spelling error, it’s imperative that you make a positive first impression by presenting a CV that is free from mistakes. Ask a trusted friend or family member to review your CV, watching out for spelling and grammar, formatting errors and other inconsistencies. If you know someone working within recruitment or HR, see if they can give you any insider information on how to make your CV even better.

Put it to good use

Once you’re happy with your reworked CV, it’s time to find your perfect new position. At Travis Perkins plc, we have more than 20 brands across more than 2,000 locations, which means there’s bound to be a role that suits you. Browse our latest vacancies to find out.

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