Below are the different areas that you should focus on when structuring your CV
Tailoring your CV
It is essential to tailor your CV for each role you apply for:
- Read the job description
- Research the company
- Link both points to your relevant skills and experience
Presentation and layout
It is imperative that your presentation and CV structure is of a high standard in order to give a good impression:
- Clean and well laid out – use white space to make it easier for the employer to read
- No longer than two pages unless your industry has its own standards; for instance, if you are expected to include your successful projects
- Use professional fonts like Arial, 10pt. Avoid using italics and use bold text for headings only
- Start each bullet point with a verb such as ‘created’, ‘managed’, ‘increased’, ‘improved’ etc.
- Spelling and punctuation must be perfect, so after you proofread and spell-checked it, give it to a friend to check it over for readability and any errors you may have missed.
Basic CV structure
Make sure to use the phone number and email address that you use most often. You don’t want to miss an opportunity by failing to respond to their invitation to an interview in a timely fashion.
Your nationality and working visa details
This is only relevant if you are on a working visa, so employers know in advance how long you will be living in the UK.
Ensure the first area at the top of your CV is a "summary of experience" and includes specific applicable experience in relation to the job ad as opposed to generalities.
Your recruiter / employer may not have more than a few seconds to read your CV, so including a skills section can capture their attention by making it clear what you can offer. Use a brief bulleted list of the skills and experience that you possess that are relevant to the role, such as software packages you have worked with. Wherever possible, use the same adjectives as those used in the advertisement.
For example, if the ad specifies someone who has ‘effective administrative abilities and excellent interpersonal skills’, these should be addressed under your skills section in the same order, although not verbatim, as this will be too obvious. Example: ‘An experienced programmer, having specialised in .NET and Ruby Rails’.
Talk about business or project successes, therefore selling yourself by showcasing your skills and experience. This is your work history and includes paid work and any relevant volunteer or work experience placements. Work backwards from your most recent job and don’t leave any gaps; if you took a year out, carried out an interim assignment or travelled for six months, say so.
If you are a graduate, you may not have a great deal of work experience. In this case, highlight the relevant skills that you gained in your course or on work experience. Again, list each position in reverse order, so that the most recent appears first.
Education and training
Use your common sense here. If you have an advanced degree, few people are going to be concerned about your GCSEs. Make sure to also include any training courses that you have done that are relevant to the job that you are applying for.
These are optional, but we always recommend to include a section on hobbies and interests, keep it very brief. If they have a company football team, it might be useful to indicate that you enjoy playing football or tag rugby.
Actual references are rarely included on CVs. It is usually fine to simply say 'References are available on request'.
Don't forget to spell check! Remember, it is the first impression your potential employer will have of you, so take the time to get it right. Ask a friend to proof read your CV to check for any spelling, layout or typing errors.
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