How To Write A CV:
Writing a professional CV is a daunting challenge for most people, as they don't have the knowledge and experience gained from being exposed to these documents on a daily basis. This is exactly why professional CV writing companies such as CV Lizard exist! We know what works and what doesn't because we've seen it ALL before. This article, however, provides some very basic guidelines on how to write a CV yourself, as we do understand that some people will always want to attempt the process themselves. We do encounter some utterly terrible CVs, so with that in mind, the least we can do is help ensure that people are aware of the fundamentals.
Dedicate time to the task.
Be realistic about how long it's going to take you to write your CV! The importance of this document cannot be stressed enough, so accordingly, it's not just a case 'knocking something together' in ten minutes flat.
It typically takes us around 90 minutes to write a brand new CV from scratch (not including the telephone consultation, during which we collect all your information). For your own sake, we emplore you to put aside a decent period of uninterupted time for the task, it's not to be taken lightly.
Information and layout:
Layout is as important as content, because when writing a CV it's critical to ensure that all the relevent information is quickly available for the reader to see and evaluate quickly. Obviously there is a degree of effective layout variation from industry to industry (try our example CV layouts), but a generally acceptable layout plan would be as follows:
- Personal Information
- Personal Statement
- Key Skills
- Employement History
Your Curriculum Vitae will need to include your essential information, such as your name and contact details. As usual, there are certain situations and certain roles that will have a specific requirement, but what is worth noting here is that there's no need to be excessive. We've seen a wide range of superflous and irrelevant details listed here, for example: "Health Rating". Not only is that a very odd thing to include, but we once saw that somebody had actually rated themselves 4/10!
Another BIG tip: Don't title the document 'Curriculum Vitae' (or even worse: 'CV'). So many people do this, but think about it, it's fairly obvious what the document is - no need to insult the interview's intelligence. Also, it's a waste of valuable first-page space. Finally though, if something's going to be bold and underlined at the top of the document, shouldn't it be your name? (Answer: YES)
- Mobile Number
- Home Number
- E-mail Address
How to write a Personal Statement:
Absolutely never just copy and paste a personal statement from the Internet or someone else and assume this is enough. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, recruiters are very wise when it comes to this kind of thing and will devalue you instantly if they are proven to be correct. Plagiarism is never a good look - it represents dishonesty and laziness. We actually encounter this quite often ourselves. It's easy to detect in many cases because the statement seems overly generic and is usually packed with non-descript 'buzzwords'. Secondly, the personal statment is the first bit of content on your CV, it's your first opportunity to impress and sell yourself! At the same time, if it's poor, a prospective employer will not continue reading. With this in mind, it's madness to rush or 'throw something together' here.
We've told you how not to handle it, so what are some key points to consider when tackling the personal statement? Here's a few tips, on us:
- Put yourself in the employer's mindset.
- Keep it concise.
- Use keywords sparingly and be prepared to justify their use.
- Present the essence of your personal ethos.
- Qualify yourself for the role relating to your skills and/or experience.
- State your aim. (ie: I'm now looking to... / I'm now seeking...)
It really is an art as well as a science, and it's difficult to give examples because the content of the statement will be unique to the candidate and the role applied for. We do see many weak attempts on a daily basis, so we emplore you to consider using a professional CV writing service, but that choice is always yours to make.
Listing your Key Skills:
If the Personal Statement is your 'first impression', then the Key Skills list is the opportunity to follow that up by clarifying your strongest relevant attributes.
The critical step here is to think about what the role actually involves and what attributes you think the target company will be looking for or impressed with. Remember that you will probably be asked to justify your points!
- List them in order of relevancy to the role.
- You then need to deliver them with impact - Do not waffle on, keep them concise.
- Don't over-do it - Between 5 and 8 key points is effective for the majority of CVs.
- It's fine to use personal or non-technical attributes but only if absolutely relevant, and only for a few points at most.
Listing your Education:
Note: As with every aspect of CV authoring, it's not possible to give a universal rule here. Certain types of CV require certain methodologies for listing your education history. Everthing on this page is subject to the needs of the situation. Some very general guidelines are:
- List the most recent first.
- Include the name of the institution.
- State qualifications using their full and correct titles.
- State the dates of attendance / award.
Listing your Employment History:
Firstly, 'Employment History' sounds better than 'Work Experience', unless you literally mean 'Work Experience', which usually relates to educational placements, apprenticeships or trainee positions. 'Career History' can also work well at times, for example on CVs belonging to people who have spent many years working within one specific sector. Judge accordingly.
- List the most recent first.
- State the period of employment (start-date and end-date).
- State the name of the company or organisation.
- State the full title of your role.
- Consider stating the specific department if you deem it necessary.
Include an introductory paragraph for each item on your list, possibly including:
- A very brief overview of the company - Who are they? Multinational? What products? What sector?
- Any specific variables - were you in an office or a distribution centre? shift?
- Your key responsibility or your main objective, in a 'nutshell'.
- Who you reported to.
- If you were in a supervisory role, how many people did you manage?
- Can you include anything measurable? How many sales did you make per month and what did that equate to in revenue?
Then go ahead and list your individual responsibilities and duties, taking care to include measurable quantities and indicators when possible. Consider listing these in a specific order, maximising the emphasis of particular relevant strengths throughout your CV, which is an effective psychological technique. Think carefully about your day-to-day activities and any special extra duties you may have performed over the course of your employment.
Listing your Interests:
It's not always necessary to list your personal interests on a CV, but there are also many situations where it can be of great benefit to do so. Judging this successfully comes with experience. If you are opting to do so, consider what your interests will indicate in terms of the following and be aware of how perceptions of you may be influenced:
- Passion for the target sector.
- Health and personal discipline.
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