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Top tips for writing your CV

Your CV is one of the first things prospective employers will see when assessing you for a job, so you need to make sure that you go into the interview pile rather than the bin. There is no set formula for the perfect CV, but there are certainly things that will turn employers off.

Spare them the details

The aim of your CV is to sell yourself to employers as the right candidate for a role and to be invited for an interview as a result. A CV should be an overview of your skills and experience - they don’t need all the tiny details.

In fact, leaving the detail out of your CV can be beneficial, as it gives you plenty to talk about when you get to the interview. The key thing to remember is that if an employer wants more detail about a particular job you’ve had in the past, or voluntary work you did while you were at university, they will ask you for it.

Keep it succinct

When you’re writing your CV, think about it from the perspective of an employer. When they advertise for a role, they could have tens of CV's to look at, which means they’re unlikely to spend long reading any of them. You need to make your key skills stand out straight away.

Keep your CV to no more than two sides of A4. It can be a good idea to have a ‘key skills’ section where you highlight your main attributes. When it comes to your previous job history, don’t feel obliged to describe every role you’ve ever worked in. Most people will have an idea of what a waitress might have done in a busy restaurant over the summer, for example.

Provide more details about your current or most recent role, especially if it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for, but don’t feel the need to describe jobs going back to your teens.

Tailor your CV

This might seem like a lot of work but, if you do it well, you won’t need to tailor your CV too often as you’ll land a job quickly. The bare bones of your CV will stay the same, but you may want to adapt your key skills section to tailor it to the job you’re applying for. Maybe you had specific responsibilities in your last role that are relevant for the new one you’re applying for - in which case highlight these when you’re describing what that job entailed.

Play around with the layout

Your CV doesn’t have to be a basic word document; you can make it more exciting than that. Consider using text boxes to separate the different sections - this will make it easier for a potential employer to find the information they’re looking for.

Worried you don’t have enough experience?

When you’re fresh out of university, your CV can feel awfully empty, but this is where you need to get creative. No employer will expect you to have years worth of experience at this point in your career, so don’t feel like that’s what you need to provide.

Instead, focus on the skills you’ve developed at university and what you’ve achieved. Highlight any extra-curricular activities you got involved with, and shout about your volunteer work. If you participated in the Student Development Award, make sure you include a link to your e-portfolio.

Check it, and then check it again

Anyone who tells you a typo or grammatical error doesn’t matter is wrong. Employers with a pile of CVs to read through are looking for a way to narrow the field and a misspelled word here or an incorrect apostrophe there can be an easy way to cut down the number of people they’re interested in.

Having errors in your CV shows a basic lack of attention to detail (and is particularly embarrassing if attention to detail is one of the skills you’ve listed). It's impossible to proofread your own work, so don't even try - find a friend or family member who is and ask them to proofread your CV for you. It’s a relatively simple thing to do, but it could make all the difference.