How to create a good CV

  • 21 June 2021

With so much competition for each position, it’s super important that you create that perfect first impression, but how do you cut through the pack and make yourself stand out before you’ve even got an interview?

Your CV has to work harder than ever. It’s not just a place for you to talk about your experience and list your qualifications, it’s the opportunity to get your personality across, show the employer what you’ve done and what you can do for them. Here are our top tips on creating a good CV that will hopefully land you that all important face to face interview.

1. Creating a CV – why it’s important and should you amend it to reflect the position you are going for

A CV shouldn’t be a one size fits all. Yes, your qualifications and work experience will remain the same every time, but this is a perfect time for you to highlight the reasons you think you are the perfect candidate for the job. Make sure you understand what the employer is looking for and detail your skillset to reflect this. Use tangible descriptions rather than clichéd stock phrases. Talk about how you can benefit the company, rather than just describing what you are looking for or what you think you are good at.

Take this example from Monster – “As an experienced Senior Advertising Sales Executive my networking abilities could help your company achieve its goals. Active and potential clients will be impressed with innovative product presentations and the meticulous management of their million-pound accounts, allowing long-lasting relationships to be formed.”

Look how this person describes what they can offer the company rather than just saying:

‘I am an experienced Senior Advertising Sales Executive that has worked for X company for 5 years’.

2. What personal details should you include?

This can vary from region to region, but our overall advice is to keep it simple. Detail them clearly at the top of your CV.

Your name – of course. Make this clear and make it stand out. You don’t need to include middle names or use nicknames.

Marital status – this is optional – only include this if you think it will be relevant to the position.

Date of birth – again this is optional. Since age discrimination was made illegal in 2006, you will find that many recruitment agencies will remove it on your behalf.

Nationality – again, as it is also illegal to discriminate people for their race or religion, unless requested we would suggest leaving this out of your personal details.

Contact details – use the number that is easiest for people to contact you on; include the town or area you live in but refrain from using your whole address and use a personal email address. If your email address is racytracy@gmail.com, then we would suggest creating a more professional address for job applications, remember, first impressions are everything.

LinkedIn profile – If yours is up to date and a good reflection of your talent, business knowledge and interests then add this in too. LinkedIn is not just an online CV anymore. It’s a place to network and showcase your business acumen if you are active on the platform.

3. Summary of relevant experience

Arguably the most important part of your CV and one that will make yours stand out from the other candidates if you get it right. Modify this to echo the requirements of the job specification. But don’t be tempted to ‘enhance’ your experience. Be honest and be relevant.

4. Your personal statement

The most important thing to remember is to keep it short and succinct. Aim to keep it no more than 50 words, utilising key phrases or skills that reflect the job requirement. Adjust for each application if necessary. Give the recruiter a reason to read on.

Here is a great example from Glassdoor:

“CIM qualified VP Marketing with experience growing market share and penetrating new markets for world-class luxury goods brands. Fluent in French, I have held country leadership roles in Belgium and Singapore and possess strong Digital Marketing skills. London-based, I am now seeking a Chief Commercial Officer role with an entrepreneurial, fast-paced luxury brand with international growth.”

Look how this individual starts with their experience, and field of expertise. They have been specific about the sector in which they specialise. They then pick up on a key skill in their ability to speak French and their understanding of international markets. They then reflect on their key skills in Digital Marketing and are very clear on the role they are looking for. There are no grey areas here.

If you have stats that you can add in to further support your statement, feel free to include these. For example: 

‘Leading a sales team of 10, sales have increased by 34% in the last 12 months and have been increasing year on year since 2016’.

Of course, you may not be going from one job to another. You may be a graduate looking for their first position, or you may be returning to work from a break to look after family.

The key areas to cover are, who you are, your relevant experience and what your career goals are. 

Read it back, is it clear enough, does it tell the employer why they should be seeing you.

5. Education

List this in chronological order from the latest to the earliest. Summarise your achievements with grades, but there is no need to list every GCSE with individual grades. Simply indicate how many qualifications you studied, e.g. 10 GCSE’s grade A-C.

6. Employment History

List the company name, your job title, responsibilities and any qualifications or achievements you may have gained whilst with the company. Include the dates that you worked there and whether you moved positions or were promoted. Start with your most recent position and work backwards. Again, you can highlight skills and responsibilities that are likely to be relevant to the position you are applying for.

7. What to write if you are returning to employment after you have been out of work for a while, or if you are entering the workplace as a graduate

The most important thing on a CV is to be honest. If you have taken time out to have a family, say so. If you took time out for a sabbatical, list it as that. You may have been furloughed and looking to secure a new position. What did you do to fill your time? Talk about it as well as your previous experience, what you feel you can offer an employer and why you would be a benefit to their company. Many skills you learn in life are transferable. Really think about what you can offer. 

As a recent graduate you are fresh out of University with all the qualifications the employer is asking for. But what can you do to stand out from all the other graduates looking for employment? Write about the experience you have gained during your time at Uni. Any part time work, a summer job, volunteer positions. They may be totally unrelated to the position you are applying for, but you will be able to demonstrate skills that transfer to the workplace. List your achievements and successes. 

8. Your skills section

Describe the skills that you believe are relevant to the role and that can be substantiated by your previous experience. Do you have particular knowledge of programmes or software? Speak another language? Or have implemented a new system within your current organisation? These are all great skills to include.

Clear, desirable and transferable skills are best to include on your CV. 

Add this section towards the end of your CV. 

9. Hobbies and Interests

Keep this short, and only include things that are relevant. If you are the School’s Parent Association treasurer, this clearly demonstrates that you are a team player, organised and trusted. Do you have a keen interest in architecture, or you run the local junior football team? Feel free to show what makes you different. The normal ‘I like to travel, socialise and go to the cinema’ is not going to make you stand out from the crowd. If you don’t have anything interesting to write, we would suggest leaving this section out. Or if your CV is already long enough, exclude this section. 

10. What not to do

Grammar, spelling, fancy paper, being generic and using buzzwords are all common mistakes to make. Read, read and read again. Give it to 5 people and ask them to review it. Make sure you space it well, use a clear font and keep it single colour (preferably black). Keep the layout consistent and well-spaced. Don’t waffle and avoid common CV terminology that everyone uses but means very little (team player, highly organised, good communication skills), make sure you back these up with examples, they mean nothing listed on their own.

11. How long should it be?

2 pages – no more no less.

12. How often should you update your CV?

For every position you apply for. Employers want to know why you are right for ‘that job’. Be clear, be specific, be relevant. Show that you care and that you are keen.

Now your CV is written, reviewed and you are happy with it. You now need to share it as widely as you can to get noticed. As well as using your CV to apply for specific roles, upload your CV to job sites. There are recruitment consultants and headhunters – like us at Inavise Tech – searching for specific experience and skills to place candidates with our clients. Make sure we can find you! 

If there is a specific role that’s caught your eye on the Inavise job search, and you need advice adapting your CV for that position. Get in touch with one of our team to see if we can help. 

And while you’re here, why not take a look at our Live Jobs to see if anything matches!