Making sure you have the right information on your CV can make the difference between landing that dream job and being passed over for someone else.
Competition for jobs can be fierce, making a well-written CV your best weapon when it comes to job hunting.
Employers often make snap decisions about whether or not youre suitable, so you only have about five seconds to grab their attention. While there is no set way that you should write your CV, it should be neat, typed and ideally no longer than two sides of A4 paper.
Use good quality, white paper and avoid making it too fancy – if it is too complicated or unreadable it will simply go in the bin. Stick to the facts, don’t make jokes and never complain about previous employers.
Read and re-read your CV to check for mistakes, and get a family member of friend to proof read it too – when competition is close, a single spelling mistake could cost you the job.
It might sound obvious, but your contact details is one of the most important sections on your CV. If your potential employer cannot get in touch with you, then they will simply offer the job to someone else.
Your name, address and contact details – phone number, email address and website if applicable – should be clearly listed at the top of the page.
Many people include a couple of lines about themselves after their contact details, briefly outlining skills, experience and immediate career goals.
This should be truthful and attention-grabbing, without being boastful. Keep it short and memorable – one or two sentences is perfect.
You don’t need to include every job you’ve had down to your Saturday job at school – if you have a long career history, you might choose to only include your last five positions, or the places you have worked over the last 10 years, for example.
You should include a brief description of your responsibilities, duties and achievements in each position, and many people also list the dates that they were employed at each company.
Don’t be tempted to blur the dates of your work history in order to camouflage periods of unemployment – a brief check by your prospective employer will reveal your deceit and ruin your chances with that company.
The amount of information you include in this section will depend on where you are in your career. If youre trying for your first job, you might want to include details of your secondary school as well as college and university if applicable. However, if youve been working for years, that information is probably not necessary.
Make sure you include details of any additional training you have completed or certificates you have gained.
Including some bullet points of your employment achievements is a good way to catch your prospective employer’s attention. Stick to quantifiable achievements such as “decreased expenditure by 27 per cent at Company One over 12 months”, rather than vague statements like “decreased expenditure at a previous employer”.
If your CV isnt too long, you could add details of any volunteer work you do in order to convey how well-rounded you are. This could also work in your benefit if it is for a cause your potential employer sympathises with.
Many people also include other personal information like their date of birth, hometown, hobbies and interests. Again, this information is not essential but can make a CV feel more personal. However, if youre unsure how your employer might react to your personal information, it would be best to leave it out.
If your CV is already long, it’s better to cut some less necessary text, or leave out your personal information rather than push it over onto a third page.
Depending on your profession, you might be expected to include extra information, such a head shot if youre an actor.
If you have been asked to include a cover letter with your application you should write a tailored letter to suit the specific job youre applying for, detailing how your skills could benefit the company.
See our guides to Writing a CV Cover Letter and our CV Cover Letter Example : These will help get your CV read.