Your CV is your first chance to impress your potential future employer. Although it isn’t the be-all-or end-all of your job search, it will considerably boost your chances of getting invited to a face-to-face interview, so it is well worth putting in the time and effort into writing a good one. The aim of your CV is to highlight your skills and unique selling points, whilst simultaneously demonstrating how you match the skills and requirements for the role in question.
Why are CVs important?
CVs provide employers with an overview of your education, skills and experience. They will base their decision of whether they would like to meet you face-to-face based predominantly on your CV, so it’s important that you make sure it does you justice. Put in the time and it will pay off.
You should be tailoring your CV to each role that you apply to. The key is to not try and stuff too much information into it, but to think about the most relevant experience and skills to list for each application. If you are applying for a Data Analyst role, then the waitressing you did before you started university is not particularly relevant. Employers will rarely dedicate longer than 1 minute to look at your CV, so it’s important that everything on your CV is there to serve a purpose.
It’s also important that you present your CV in a clear format that is easy to scan through and that you triple check for errors! Spelling and grammar mistakes are a huge warning signal to prospective employers – they look sloppy and can so easily be avoided! Just run your CV through a spell checker online, or ask friends and family to read through your CV.
The main things to include
So, your CV should be made up of 4 clear sections:
- Education: This section should include information and results from your secondary school and university. Include the names of your institutions and degree, A Level and GCSE results (or equivalent).
- Work Experience: This is the most important section of your CV. We recommend picking your top 3 most relevant pieces of work experience here. For each piece of experience, have 3 bullet points (max) to explain what you did and what skills you picked up or improved on during that time.
- Skills: In this section, you should list any language skills, computer skills or additional qualifications that you have. Remember to describe your level of proficiency for each skills listed.
- Hobbies & Interests: This section should definitely be kept short, but it is a good opportunity for you to reveal some of your personality. Do try and give examples to backup your hobbies or interests though – don’t just say that you enjoy reading but mention your favourite author or genre, for example.
For our free CV templates, check out our CV Handbook Article.
What about the cover letter?
Cover letters are usually sent hand in hand with CVs as part of the initial job application. The main aim of the cover letter is to convey to the employer why you are the best person for the role and why you are excited about the opportunity to work for them. You should be careful not to simply repeat what you have written in your CV – your cover letter gives you the chance to expand on some points you made in your CV. To find out more about how to write a winning cover letter, and to download some free templates, have a read of our Cover Letter Handbook Article.
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