CV Writing Tips

Updated: Jun 21

Introduction


It's important to have a well-written CV because it is the tool that gets you the interview. It helps to showcase your skills and experience in a professional manner. A recruiter, on average, will spend approximately 20 seconds scanning your CV. This blog discusses the information you should include in each section of your CV.


You may have to do a fair amount of research if you're writing a CV for the first time. If you are a seasoned professional, it's essential to keep your CV updated with your latest skills and achievements.



CV Basics


A CV should not be longer than two pages unless you work in education or research. The document should not be titled "curriculum vitae" or "CV". Instead, your name should be the first word on your CV.


Simple mistakes such as spelling and grammar errors, employment date inconsistencies, and not enough industry-related keywords, too much/too little information, poor formatting, and silly email addresses can cause your CV to be rejected.


It is important to research keywords related to your industry before writing your CV. Your keyword choices will significantly influence the effectiveness of your CV and how the search engines will find it.


Keep the style consistent throughout the document. You should use a clear font like Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri, size 10 or larger. A CV should not have mixed formatting, as it can distract the reader.


Your CV must be accurate and up-to-date at all times. Recruiters will scan through CVs, but very few will read every single word. Make sure you present all the information in a readable and concise way. CVs that don't make a great first impression won't be considered for the position again!




ATS Scanning Software

Many recruiters use applicant tracking software to scan CVs and remove those who are not qualified for a position. Candidates' CVs are scanned and stored in an ATS database so recruiters can use keywords to shortlist applications. The following factors are critical to creating an ATS-friendly CV:

  • Use of industry-related keywords

  • Avoid vague or flowery language

  • Include specific skills and qualifications

  • Make sure your job titles are clear and familiar to recruiters

  • Use a font size no smaller than 10 points

  • Avoid using custom fonts, embedded images and unusual CV designs.

  • Keep your information in the body of the document and don't put important information in the header or the footer (name, email, telephone number)

  • Submit your CV as a Word document and avoid PDFs (unless specified).


There are three main styles of CVs:


The functional or skills-based CV


This style is ideal when you are changing jobs, new to the workplace, or returning after an extended break. This style focuses more on skills and less on your work history. It is recommended to use this style if you are new to the workplace, school leaver, graduate or change into a different career sector.


The Reverse Chronological CV


This style is ideal when you have a strong work history. It is less focused on lengthy key skills statements and has a shorter personal statement.


The Tailored CV


A tailored CV is the one recruiters' love! A tailored CV is literally 'tailored' around the job application, using the job advertisement as a guide to relating your like-for-like information. Recruiters like this style because they can see related skills and experience. Customized tailored CVs take longer to prepare, but they are well worth the effort.




The Sections on a CV

The sections that should appear on a CV are:


Contact Details

Do not include personal information like your date of birth, address, nationality, national insurance number. This information is unnecessary and can be misused. Only include your name, city or town that you live in (not full address), email address and mobile number. There can be a lot of CVs exchanged by recruiters and those posted online. The best practice is to keep personal information to a minimum.


Career Summary (or Personal Statement)

It's a brief introduction describing your preferred skill sets, abilities, accomplishments, and distinctive qualities. Show concisely in your summary that you meet the job's requirements and are an excellent match for the position. Develop your pitch line before moving on to your career summary, 3 to 4 sentences detailing your current job title, skills, and experience, and a line regarding your career goals.


Example:

'An experienced receptionist with five years of experience providing administrative support in a variety of roles, you will find me to be efficient, proactive, and responsive.' Very experienced at handling customer interactions and work tasks in a friendly way. Capable of handling complex paperwork and preparing for meetings in an organized, efficient manner. I am looking for an advanced position that will allow me to apply my administrative experience and customer service skills.



Key Skills (or Core Skills)

Key skills are extremely sought-after by recruiters at an organisation. Employers will look for specific skills in your CV from a job advertisement, so it is vital to include them.


It is best to use an 80/20 ratio of hard and soft skills. Recruiters place a higher value on hard skills than on soft skills. While your work history often defines hard skills, soft skills are more about your character and value.


Examples of hard skills: a degree or academic qualifications, the experience of software applications, foreign language, typing speed, accountancy, proofreading, writing proficiency.


Examples of soft skills: The ability to work in a team, strong written and spoken communication skills, ability to resolve conflicts, to solve problems creatively, to prioritise tasks, the ability to plan and organise.


List Your Key Skills in Column Form.


Key Skills

Administration Operations Client Relationships Diary Management

Calendar Management Audio Typing Database Management

Micrsosft office 80 wpm Attention to detail



Work Experience

A recruiter often finds the employment history or work experience section of a CV to be the most interesting. It highlights your past positions and experiences. It should easily show them what kind of work you’ve done, where you’ve done it, and for how long.


State your job title, the employer, the location, the dates you worked. Then include a couple of lines that summarise what you did or achieved in that job role. Then write 2 to 3 achievements that you gained during this job role. Recruiters are interested in what you accomplished and can bring to their company.


Going beyond ten years in your work history is unnecessary unless the same company still employs you. Your work history should be listed in chronological order, first with your most recent job.



Example of Work History


Administration Assistant,       Browns Associates, Belfast      Jan 2018 - present


I provide ongoing secretarial and clerical support to a busy legal team. Among my responsibilities are answering telephone calls, providing preliminary information to customers, maintaining databases, filing systems, and coordinating appointments.


Key achievements include:

  • Helped personnel to expand the efficiency of the workplace by 30%.

  • Transformed the calendar into an interactive scheduling tool, which simplified the appointment process.

  • Implemented an electronic filing system that reduced retrieval time by 30%.


If you had unemployment or a career break, you should list it but only give a brief one-line response. You don't have to explain your career break in detail; only an indication will do.


For example:

  • June 2019 - September 2020:  Career break while I went travelling to America. 

  • Sept 2020 - Mar 2021: Unemployed but actively seeking employment.


Qualifications & Training

The job advertisement should list all the training and qualifications relevant to the position. To ensure that you meet the criteria, you must include these on your CV.  


I would also include qualifications higher than level 4 in the NQF - UK, since this can show that you are capable of higher learning. Use the following format for your CV - the title of qualification - the institution's name, location and date of completion.


Degree in Social Media Marketing, University College London, London, 2009 - 2012


If you prefer not to disclose your age, you can leave out the completion date of your qualifications until they offer you a position.



Other Information

You should only include this section if you have something relevant to your application. Maybe you are bilingual, have a driving license, have experience operating machinery or vehicles, or have used software in a volunteering capacity. This information may not match the job specification criteria but may give you extra 'likeable qualities' to the employer.



Sections You Don't Need to Include.

Hobbies and Interests - You only need to include this section if you are a young person or do not have a strong working history.


Referees - Do not include your referees' contact information on your CV, but instead supply them when you are offered a job.


Example CV

Please click here.



Conclusion

You should spend time making sure that your CV ticks all the boxes and is worth the value of your professional skills. It needs to be free of errors, proofread, well-formatted, professional sounding, and demonstrate the necessary skills and experience clearly, concisely.


You never know when you'll be invited for an interview! Make sure your CV is updated, whether you're looking for a job or not. Whenever something significant happens in your career, record it to avoid forgetting it later. You should include any promotions you've received or any additional responsibilities you've taken on.


Thank you for reading this blog today. I hope you can use the information to write a CV to help you get an interview.


I would be happy to discuss this further with you or assist you if you don't have the time to write your CV. Please get in touch with me at info@donnancoachingservices.com.


 

Regards

Paula Donnan

Career and Personal Growth Coach


⭐ Click here to find out how I can help you.

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