Whitehill Pelham Recruitment Consultants

Hints and Tips on writing a CV

A CV is primarily a tool to sell you into an interview, it should state enough information to create interest and tempt the reader to want to see you to make a well balanced decision on whether or not to hire you. Besides, a CV at best tells the reader 50% of your total skills, attributes and value, the rest can only be measured during a face to face interview.

However a CV is also an information log of your background, experience and skills and can be used when applying for professional affiliations and other awards, these understandably are more details and elaborate in more detail than a job seekers CV.

Why Write a CV?

To apply for a job similar to your current one or in the same/similar industry.

You enjoy your job and want to do it somewhere else! Your CV has to highlights your relevant achievements. Achievements prove that you can meet objectives, something all employers look for.

To apply for a different job to your current one or within a different field or industry.

You have decided to change your career path for whatever reason. Your CV has to highlight any and all experience and/or qualifications in this new area. You need a link in your CV to show logical reasoning why this alternative career is relevant in some way, highlighting transferable skills and that the application does not come across as a random choice.

To have a full and general CV ready for any eventuality.

Keeping your CV updated with as much information as possible is always a good idea so that you have all the relevant information in one document that you can pick from when tailoring your CV.

To apply for a particular job vacancy.

Ensure your CV covers each point mentioned in the job spec, be as clear and concise as possible, remember, too many words can hide the real achievement - less is often more.

How to lay out a CV

The top middle of the page should read Curriculum Vitae below which you should put your name, address, email and phone number either on the right hand side or situated centrally below Curriculum Vitae

Next line(s) should include your qualifications, keep these to the most relevant and high ranking, ie if you have an MSc, you might not need to put down your O'level results! Also put memberships to any professional affiliations here and the date that you became a member. Put the highest ranking qualification first and work back chronologically. Group academic qualifications first, leave a gap and put professional affiliations next.

Leave a small gap and have a new heading;

Skills/Summary/personal profile - Aim/Intent

It is optional to include a section outlining your aim/Intent, whilst it is customary to set out this information in a covering letter, since these can become detached from the CV it can be a good idea to include a short paragraph outlining your aim and /or intent with the CV/application/job search.

Unless the summary is based on fact and not opinion, it is best to not to include anything. Your opinion of your skills summary might not be correct or match the requirements of the hirer.

Avoid any clichéd phrases such as works well under pressure, communicates well at all levels, has excellent interpersonal skills, thrives in a demanding environment and so on, whilst you might assume these are appealing to a potential hirer, they are often used on CV's and now lack credibility. It is much better when writing the CV to include relevant bullet points for example describing times when you completed a project on time against great odds, describe the project and the odds and this will be a better description of how you have been able to work under pressure.

Leave a small gap and have a new heading;

Work History

Next list your work experience in reverse chronological order, simply stating the name of the company on the right hand side followed by the job title, followed by the date on the right hand side.

Follow this with a list of bullet point achievements and not rambling paragraphs of text. Most people hiring scan CV's quickly for most relevant data, this is best highlighted using bullets rather than losing important achievements or other relevant facts in long text.

If you are compiling your CV for purposes other than getting a new job, it is acceptable to go into some detail, for instance you may be applying for an affiliation to a professional body and detailed accounts of projects and so on is needed to support the application.

Remember which sort of CV you are writing (see list above) and focus on what the reader will want to see and not what you want to say! Avoid jargon and seldom understood acronyms.

Write the CV's without reference to self, avoid I, me, he, she etc, focus on the accomplishment or achievement.

Avoid words such as worked in - everybody works somewhere. You should instead specify the job. Use words such as collaborated, campaigned, marketed, controlled, managed, supervised, initiated, sold etc. instead of worked.

Add any books or articles published stating the publication and date after a short gap after work history.

Leave a small gap and finish the CV with a short list of hobbies and interests.

Use a clear font of a small but readable style, point 10, 11 or 12 depending how much text you have. Do not underline, simply use bold but keep this to a minimum so that you are not appearing to emphasise everything. It is advisable to check the spelling, grammar and consistency of formatting prior to using the finished document.

CV length

A CV should two pages maximum in most cases. Your most relevant experience will be from the last 10 years or so as many people move through their careers and change job emphasis. This does not mean that the entire work history should be deleted, quite the opposite, it is important to show the full history.

Gaps in work history

In every case, these must be stated and as positive account as possible made as to why they occurred, as is always the case, honesty is the best policy, mistakes made at this stage could cause you to lose your job later.

The opinions set out in this guide are based on our experiencing spanning many years in the recruitment industry and drawn from close dialogue with our clients, you will find different advice elsewhere and it is ultimately your decision on what is right, if you would like to discuss this in more detail please call one of our senior consultants.

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