So, you’re suddenly unemployed, redundant or unsure of your job security. It may be a scary time, but one thing you can do is take a proactive approach to your future. Now is the time to freshen up your CV so it’s attractive to a potential employer. Or, write a CV if you’ve never needed one until now. Here are my top CV writing tips to make sure you bag that interview.
Find a CV template
Is your CV looking a little tired? Or non-existent? Maybe you lack the creativity to format it professionally. But don’t panic, you don’t have to! Check out the range of CV templates on Word or Google Docs. Pick the one you like and off you go.
However, if you are a creative, make a CV that shows off your artistic flair and design skills. As long as the information is clear and easy to read, you’re free to make your CV as snazzy as you like.
A quick word on which font to use in your CV. It’s best to keep it nice and simple, and avoid any crazy typefaces that are hard to read or remotely wacky looking. Fonts like Arial, Cambria and Calibri are my personal faves. Oh, and never use Comic Sans. Just ever.
Start with the essentials
Start with your name, phone number, date of birth and email. Sorry to break it to you, but now is the time to update that embarrassing email you set up as a teenager and never got round to changing. Yes, I mean you email@example.com
Keep it professional and simple so prospective employers know who you are and how to get in touch.
Write a personal statement
The next part of your mission to write a CV employers will notice should be a personal statement that summarises you, your skills and goals. Keep it short and snappy and don’t include every generic quality under the sun. Make it genuinely personal to you. Write it so it reads like a fabulous reference to make a good first impression. An example is below:
“An enthusiastic, energetic and professional marketer with a real flair for design and a keen eye for detail. Currently seeking a role in digital marketing to use the experience and skills gained in previous roles to benefit a new company.”
Organise your work history
Employment history is next up. Using this as your section header, start with your most recent or current role then list your job history. Name the company, location, your position and dates you worked there. Underneath, include a short overview of your role in each company in bullet points or a small paragraph.
If you’ve had more than four jobs, stick to the ones that are most relevant to the job you’re seeking.
And if you’ve never had to write a CV before and you’re lacking work experience, include any voluntary roles or work experience here. Make it clear this was unpaid work you took on in your own spare time. After all, this is a great way to impress employers with your can-do attitude.
Add your education
The next title on your CV should be education. Again, start with your most recent education and list each establishment with the dates you attended and qualifications and grades received.
Any qualifications or training courses you’ve completed outside of an educational establishment can be included here too, so make sure to add anything relevant to your future employer. This can include online courses, training done in the workplace or extracurricular qualifications.
Hobbies and other information
The dreaded section when you write a CV is the part where you include a cringetastic sentence about your wholesome hobbies. If you can, make it as truthful and personal as possible so your actual personality shines through. Employers will soon be bored reading yet another identikit statement about how you love socialising and fitness.
Be specific and don’t be afraid to inject a little humour to show your funny side. Just don’t go overboard and make yourself sound weird (save that for when you’ve actually got the job).
Take the starting point: “In my spare time I like dance, cooking, knitting and reading”. A good alternative would be: “In my spare time, I enjoy taking hip hop dance classes, cooking Thai food, knitting scarves for my nieces and reading science fiction novels.” Instantly, an employer gains an insight into your personality and you appear as a more rounded individual who stands out from the crowd.
In this part of your CV, it’s also wise to add in the fact you have a full, clean driving licence if you do. If you’re learning to drive and driving is relevant to the job role, include this information too, to prevent an employer discounting you too soon.
Who to include in CV references
Your CV reference section should include at least one former employer or line manager. However, if you’re looking for your first job, feel free to include former college tutors, mentors or work experience bosses. It’s also perfectly acceptable to add a personal reference in there. All an employer is looking for is someone who can reassure them that you are trustworthy, reliable and hardworking. Make sure you include in your CV reference section each referee’s full name and contact details, so the employer can contact them if they decide to progress your application.
And if you’re job searching at a sensitive time and you don’t feel comfortable adding current employer details when you come to write a CV, it’s fine to add “references available on request” into this section of your CV.
Other things to put into your CV
By now, your CV should be in pretty good shape. The ideal length is one A4 page, but make sure it’s no more than two pages of A4 if you’re struggling to limit all of your amazing achievements to a single sheet. If, on the other hand, your CV is looking a little empty, flesh it out with other great information about yourself.
For example, a section titled “key skills and qualities” would be a great way to highlight your strengths, if you don’t yet have the work experience to do this. Remember to make it personal and not too generic, as anything remotely “works well in a team and on own initiative” lacks originality and doesn’t tell an employer much about you.
Get your CV checked
Finally, get your CV checked! Whether you know your spelling and grammar is poor, or you’re pretty sure your CV is ticking all the boxes, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to get your CV checked by someone else. That may be a friend, colleague or a professional proofreader, but whoever you choose, make sure you don’t omit this crucial step. Even the best writers miss things when checking their own work *proofreads this blog obsessively before posting* – so a fresh pair of objective eyes over your CV is essential before you start uploading or posting it.
Right now I am offering to proofread, edit and reformat (if necessary) any CVs sent to me by people who have found themselves recently unemployed or struggling to find work. This service is completely free of charge, with no strings attached. I simply want to help people to find employment and hopefully, nab that dream job.
If you’d like to take advantage of my FREE CV checking service, simply email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Need to write a CV fast and got a quick question? Drop me a line, or call me on 07305 081277.
Happy CV writing!