CV Tips and Advice

Tips and Advice for Writing your CV

Writing a CV can be a daunting task; what should I include? What should I leave out? What should I write about first?  When applying for the job you are interested in, your CV is the first piece of information potential employers will receive about you, so you want to impress.  Here are some tips and advice on how to make your CV look great and stand out from the crowd.

The basics:
The structure and layout of your CV is the first step in catching an employer’s eye.  The way your document is presented is important, as it will make it easier to read and understand.  Anything over two pages is usually too long as whoever is looking at your CV is unlikely to have the time to look over that much information.  Keep it clear, concise and selective and remember, what you don’t write down can be said during the interview.

Most CV’s are broken down into sections.  These include:

Name and Personal details
(This includes your address, contact details and other personal information you wish to include)

(This is usually only a sentence or two describing what you are looking to get out of sending your CV and what you are looking for in regards to employment)

Employment history / Experience 

Education / Training 

Any Interests or Achievements 

(These can be included within your CV or simply stated ‘Available on Request’, unless specifically asked for)

Tips and Advice 

Tailor your CV
This does not mean that you have to start your CV all over again, it just means adjusting some information and making it suit the job you’re applying for.

Each job advertisement will more than likely have a job description attached to or included in it.  It is very important that you read and understand the role and the detailed job specification. Sending out a standard or generic CV is unlikely to catch any attention.  It is important for you to tailor your CV to each job description as this will show a potential employer and whoever is reading it that you have actually read the job description and have understood it.   They want to know that you have a genuine interest in the job you are applying for and therefor they will have an interest in speaking with you.

Proof read it!
Once you’ve proof read your CV, proof read it again.  You can never read it too many times and if you feel that you have looked it over enough times, have someone else check it.  They don’t have to necessarily understand everything about the job you are applying for, they are just making sure it reads well.  One of the worst things that can happen when applying for a job you are interested in is realising you’ve made an obvious mistake, which could have been easily fixed before it was submitted.  If you have spent a lot of time working on your CV, you don’t want it overlooked because you have misspelled the company’s name! It only takes a few minutes and is definitely worth it.

Tell the truth
While you want to sound as qualified for the job as possible, there is a difference between building yourself up and deliberately misrepresenting your credentials.  Even if an employer doesn’t find out that your stated prior experience doesn’t match your actual experience the job is probably not for you if you have to misrepresent facts about your experience.  And while it may not be a problem initially, if you don’t have the correct skills, experience or qualifications, it will show eventually.

Keep your CV up to date
Make sure what your sending out is up to date and not from 3 years ago!  Even if you have been out of work, you have most likely been doing something to occupy your time with, so include it and make it relatable.  This also includes keeping your contact details up to date.

If you feel that your CV is ready to send off, then great.  Some companies ask for cover letters, personal statements or examples of previous work, so make sure to include this should employers ask for it.

And the last, but not least, send your CV and any other covering information, in the correct format, for example PDF or Word.  Don’t be tripped up at the last hurdle by not having read and understood the employer’s job application requirements – as there’s a possibility it might never be looked at it it’s not been submitted properly.

Cover Letter 

If a company has asked for a covering letter to go along with your CV it is vital to make it look and sound good.  A covering letter can relay more personal information about you than your CV and is chance to explain why you’re applying for the stated job and why you feel you are suitable for the role. Much like CV’s, employers may not have a huge amount of time to spend reading through each individual cover letter they receive, so again it is important to make sure your letter leaves an impression and is memorable.

The key point of a covering letter is to let the potential employer know why they should hire you, assuring them that you are qualified for the job. Again, like your CV, it is important to tailor your cover letter to each job you are applying for.  Make sure the company information at the header of the page is correct and the content within the letter is relevant to the job you’re applying for.  Make sure to keep is simple and don’t waffle!

How long should my cover letter be?
Ideally your cover letter should be a page long, any more than that and most readers will not have enough time to read it. However if it’s too short you may have left out some important information.

Be formal
State their information and your information at the header of the page, including names, addresses and contact information.  Be sure of who are you addressing, most cover letters begin with ‘Dear Sir/Madam/To whom it may concern’ – unless they have stated their name within the job description, in which case use that.

Things to include in the main body of text:

  • General Information – Include the company’s information, your information (don’t forget your name!)
  • First Paragraph – Use this as your opening statement, stating why you are writing to them and the position you are applying for, where you have seen the job advertised and even include the job reference if there is one.
  • Middle Paragraphs – These paragraphs should be used to show what you can offer to the company, include your skills and experience and how they match the job description.
  • Last Paragraph – Again, state why you are interested in this position and how you feel it would be the right role for you.  You can also indicate that you would like to meet with the employer for an interview and to get in contact if they need any more information.

Proof read before sending anything, making sure spelling and grammar is correct.  You want your cover letter to read and be presented well.  The most important point about a CV and a Cover Letter is that it represents you and you are happy with the information provided. You can be as creative or as formal as you like, as long as the correct information has been put across!