Are you struggling to write your CV, or is your current one in need of a refresh? Suffering from CV blindness from looking at the same words? We get it. Here are some top tips for making the most of those two pages (and yes, keep it to two)!
#1 First impressions count
The average employer spends around 6.25 seconds reading a CV, less if it doesn’t grab their attention. Your CV is the first opportunity you have to make an impact and showcase who you are to potential employers.
If you want a better chance of getting a job, then tailor your CV to each position you apply for.
The recruitment team often sift through HUNDREDS of CVs for one job. Sometimes, they are your hiring manager, recruiting for a position as well as doing their day job. Understanding and showing appreciation that their time is as precious as yours is the first step to a long and fruitful relationship.
Tailoring your CV doesn’t mean a complete rewrite. You just need to take the time to highlight skills and experience that demonstrate the capabilities the employer is looking for.
‘It’s fantastic when I can instantly see skills and experience relevant to the role I am recruiting for. If I can see that from a quick scan, I know that the applicant has understood what we are looking for and hasn’t just sent out a blanket application to any available opportunity.’ Laura Bell – Group HR & OD Manager.
#2 Follow the rules
Your CV needs to include all the things that a future employer is looking for. It must show off your strengths, qualities and experience. It’s vital to get the basics right – TOP TIP: ensure your layout is clear and well-structured.
- Keep your CV to two pages
- Lay it out on a white document and in portrait, not landscape
- Use an easy to read font such as Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman or Verdana
- A 12-point font is ideal, but you can go slightly smaller if you need the space (just make sure it’s readable
- Headings should separate each section of your CV (try using bold or CAPITALS for visual appeal)
- Your content and headings should be left aligned, not centred
- Use the tab key rather than the space bar to indent information (this way, your indents match throughout)
- Always save your CV in MS Word format so you don’t lose your work, but send it as a PDF to the employer
‘It makes my job so much easier when I can clearly see everything set out. It makes finding relevant information quicker, and demonstrates the applicant works in an organised and logical way ’ Ellie Hall; Group Talent & Resourcing Manager.
#3 Highlight relevant experience
It’s so important to include your personal strengths and attributes. Jobs are not just about qualifications. Often, companies recruit based on attitude and potential and this is definitely the case at Bellway.
Match your skills and abilities to the job, but be honest! If you’re lacking in one area, highlight how good you are in another. You will learn more on the job than from a book, so make sure you tell the truth about what makes you tick and what you’re keen to develop. Be honest; exaggerations and omissions will be uncovered eventually!
- The skills and qualities you can bring to the organisation
- What you’re looking for in your career
- Why you’re the most suitable candidate for the role
‘It’s great when I see someone highlight their strengths like ‘team player’ or ‘attention to detail’. It really lets me know where they will fit in the existing team and what they will bring to the organisation.’ Nicola Hughes; Group Head of Marketing.
#4 Foolproof your CV
Make sure you proofread and check for spelling and grammar. Even the most seasoned editor will go ‘word blind’ after reading something a lot, so have someone else check it for you or use a software app like Grammarly to help.
Avoid using acronyms, abbreviations, jargon and colloquialisms, the exception being for qualifications like BA (Hons). (And definitely avoid using text-speak in applications or formal documents).
Totes excited to get this job btw. ROFL.
#5 Make it personal... but not too personal
It’s amazing how many people forget to include their name and address on their CV. Include this important personal information along with your contact number and email address. It’s worth checking that your voicemail message and email address are appropriate and professional.
You don’t need to include your date of birth, nationality, marital status, national insurance number or passport number, and unless you’re applying within an industry or in a country where they specifically ask for a headshot, then don’t include a photo. In some places, employability law doesn’t allow this information. This protects you from someone making a decision based on your gender, age or ethnicity.
- Contact number
- Professional email address
Don’t forget, the employer is looking for the best applicant for the role, so give them as much opportunity as possible to know that it’s you. Don’t be scared to shout about your achievements, remember you’re amazing!
A quick word on covering letters...
This is a whole topic in itself, but remember that your covering letter is your opportunity to showcase the things you can’t add to a CV and convey why you are perfect for the job. Follow this quick checklist below to make sure you hit all the key areas.
- Your personal details (e.g. name, address, email address, telephone number)
- The date you sent the letter
- The address of the organisation
- The hiring manager’s name, if you have it – if you don’t, write, ‘Dear Sir / Madam’
- The job title and reference number, if available (e.g. Graduate Consultant, Reference 34534095)
- Where you found the vacancy, and the date the job was advertised
- Why you’re applying
- Your recent experience (a summary)
- Your skills and aspirations
- Why you want to work for the organisation – show that you’ve done your research, explain what made this organisation stand out
- A summary of your interest in the job – close this paragraph with ‘I look forward to hearing from you’
- A closing line
- ‘Yours sincerely’ to a specific person
- ‘Yours faithfully’ (if you addressed the letter to Dear Sir/Madam)