I get a lot of people coming to me for CV advice, so I thought I’d cover the most frequently asked questions in this blog post. Before I start, it’s really important to keep in mind that there is no one ‘right way’ to write your CV. Your CV is a marketing tool that you need to create in order to ‘sell’ yourself for a particular job, so you want to be thinking about how you want to come across to an employer who probably knows nothing about you. Despite there not being black and white answers, I have provided my thoughts and advice based on the feedback I receive from employers on what works and what doesn’t…so hopefully you’ll find this useful! As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any comments or questions J
- Should I include a personal profile?
It is not necessary to include a profile at the start of your CV, and I would suggest only including one if it really adds value to your CV. There is no point reiterating what’s already included in the bulk of your CV, and likewise adding a generic statement about being hardworking, committed and a good team player isn’t going to impress an employer. However, if you want to draw attention to something specific that might help your CV stand out then do so, but make sure it’s short and snappy (1-2 sentences maximum).
- Should I start with my education?
If you are a current student or recent graduate then it’s likely you will want to lead with your education first. This is particularly the case if the role you are applying for is related to your studies (remember to add details of relevant assignments/modules/exams). However, if you have a large amount of relevant work experience or are looking to enter a job field unrelated to your studies then you may find it beneficial to start with your work experience or a skills section.
- Can I use a CV template?
There are loads of CV templates available on the internet, however I would always advise job seekers to steer clear of them. You may think that a template will make your job easier, however you’re then tasked with fitting your life experience into pre-determined boxes. Rather than helping your CV stand out from other applicants, using a template is a sure way to blend in with the crowd…not what you want!
- How long should my CV be?
Unless you are applying for an academic position, your CV should be a maximum of two A4 pages in length. No matter how much you’ve got to talk about, you need to demonstrate you can write concisely and select only the most relevant information to include. On the other hand, if you’re struggling to fill one page then you may want to think about which areas you can elaborate on to ensure you fully demonstrate to the employer that you have the relevant attributes for the role you’re applying for.
- Should I include my interests and hobbies on my CV?
Maybe. Again this will depend on whether they’re relevant and add value or not. Activities such as ‘reading’ and ‘socialising with friends’ aren’t likely to add anything special to your CV, however volunteering on a weekly basis or getting to competition level as a member of your local choir (for example!) can really help demonstrate key skills such as teamwork, commitment and motivation.
- Can I use the same CV for all my job applications?
You can although I would highly recommend you don’t! Think about it from an employer’s point of view – they may have hundreds of CV’s to look through and will therefore be making quick judgements on whether or not the applicant meets the job requirements and is worth taking forward for an interview. If you make this task difficult for them by not tailoring your CV towards the role, the employer will not appreciate having to dig for information and may well find it easier to simply move your CV into the ‘no’ pile.
- What’s your top tip for CV writing?
If I had to give my number one tip for writing a CV, I would say to start with the job in mind, rather than starting with you in mind. Although a CV is essentially about you, it’s role is to demonstrate how you fit the role you’re applying for. Starting off with the key role requirements in mind allows you to then select only the most relevant and best examples to include in the body of your CV.
I hope you find the above advice useful, feel free to ask any questions or add any further CV tips below!