CV Advice

A well written Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a critical asset in making an application for any new job

Many first-time job-seekers and experienced executives alike discover that the process of writing a CV can be very challenging. The following top tips from our Recruitment Xperts should give you a head start on the competition when it comes to being noticed.

The purpose of your CV

Your CV should spotlight the skills, experiences and any unique industry insights that are relevant to the position you are applying for. If you are attempting to move to a new industry, try to show how your current skills are transferable and would benefit your new employer. Whilst your CV primarily supports your job applications, you can also upload it to select job boards, after which you might be discovered by prospective employers.

CV Format

CV Formatting concerns the use of fonts, colours, borders, illustrations and much more.  Many CV guides are available via the internet and many of those offer conflicting advice regarding format. However, most CV consumers, including recruiters and HR professionals, agree that they prefer the following:

  • Regular font, such as Arial, Calibri, Courier or Times New Roman
  • Legible font size of 10 or 11
  • Black typeface
  • No personal photo
  • No borders or watermarks

Your CV should be easy to read, with clear headings for important sections and good use of bullet points to summarise important information.

The preferred order of key sections is as follows:

  • Personal details such as contact information
  • Personal summary, clearly stating what your job function is with a note on experience.
  • Career history with most recent job first and clear labelling of start and end dates for each role
  • Summary of education, plus any vocational qualifications or formally recognised training
  • Personal interests

There is much debate on the subject of CV length, but this is much less of a concern than you might believe.  Of more importance is that the content is relevant, complete and accurate.  Your CV should help the reader to understand that your skills and experiences match the full requirements of their vacancy.  It’s quite accepted that this can’t be achieved in fewer than 3 to 5 pages for those people who have longer careers histories.

Optimising your CV

CVs can be discovered by recruiters and HR staff whilst they search for candidates on Job Boards and Electronic recruitment systems. Optimisation of CVs concerns the inclusion of words and phrases that such people might use to find candidates with the career history and job skills they seek.

Start by thinking about the words that somebody might use to look for your replacement.  If you are a Sales Director in the retail market, you might look at “Sales Director” and “retail” for starters. Think about the geography like “International”, the sub-sector, such as “apparel” or “clothing” and key areas of responsibility, such as “budgets”, “hiring” etc.  Try to ensure that those words you might use are in your own CV.  Typically, mentioning such words and phrases five times is considered appropriate for optimisation of your CV

To find out more about job boards please read our job seekers guide.

The importance of a cover letter

It is vital to acknowledge the importance of a cover letter. Your CV will be formatted to suit all variations of a particular role. Your cover letter is your first impression and should entice the hiring manager to open your CV and read more. Your cover letter should be personalised each time for the role and company you are applying to. It should highlight why you want to work for their company, why you feel you are a match for the role and what you could bring to the table. Recruiters can spot a generic cover letter so it is important to invest enough time to personalise each one.