Steps to Writing a Successful CV

Your CV is your first opportunity to prove to the employer that you could be the right candidate for the job.

Reviewing a CV is often a quick procedure; the recruiter is trying to determine the suitability of the application within minutes. Therefore, it is crucial that your CV enhances your chances of becoming a successful candidate, not holds you back.

There is masses of information and tips available online, yet applicants still continue to make the same simple mistakes over and over again. As a recruiter, for me, these are the steps you can take towards producing a successful CV which will stand out from the crowd.

1. Format

Your CV needs to look both professional and aesthetically pleasing. I find simple layouts are more effective, using clear and bold headings. Tailor your CV to the field in which you are applying for. For example, if you applying for role within Financial Services, your CV needs to look corporate to reflect the tone of the position. Keep colours to a minimum, make sure your text is the right size and the font is appropriate.

Start with your name, contact details and then a short, concise but informative introduction: a personal profile summarising your skills and achievements. Begin with your educational background, making sure your qualifications are clearly stated. Move onto your work experience; include experiences that you think are most relevant and applicable to the role. Then state any skills, awards, languages or interests that add variety to your application. Remember to send over your CV as a PDF file.

As a first impression, your CV needs to be neat, professional and concise. I would steer away from fancy templates and format it as such so your most distinguished achievements are easily identified.

2. Language

The language you use is important- a well-written CV proves that you a effective communicator. Concise articulation will demonstrate that you have good written skills and understand the attributes required for the role. Avoid negativity- describe your experiences in a way that portrays consistent personal development.

Be assertive and avoid generalisations. Try not to claim you have skills without backing them up with a relevant experience or qualification. Give examples of instances where you have learnt or developed an important skill, for example, project work or a challenge you have faced.

3. Tone

Adapt the tone of your CV to fit the job position. Take in as much information as you can from the job application, and adapt the content of your CV to match the requirements of the role. Tailor your personal profile to highlight your most notable achievements, so that the recruiter can quickly spot the key words they are accustomed to look for.

Be confident in your achievements but try not to over-state how great you are. Demonstrating how you are a ‘team-player’ or ‘hard-working’ is more effective than just using these statements in isolation. These statements are overused and will be read time and time again by the employer- they will not make your CV stand out from the crowd.

4. Information

Be informative- remember to include all the necessary contact details clearly, at the top of your CV. The recruiter does not want to hunt for your phone number, make it easy for them.

Give enough information but keep your experiences concise, a CV over two pages will just be read less thoroughly.

Make sure you have an up to date LinkedIn profile, with a professional photograph and that the information matches that of your CV. Google yourself and make sure you keep your social media presence clean to reflect your cooperate image.

5. Review

Reviewing your CV is so important. If a recruiter notices a mistake, they will use it as quick determining factor for binning your application straight away. They will show no mercy! Make sure the CV is addressed to the right person and the right company. Check grammar and spelling more than a few times to ensure accuracy. Get a few people to review your application, as it is often difficult to identify your own mistakes. Errors will not demonstrate you have strong attention to detail, and it will make you look disorganised!

I hope these guidelines are useful for applicants to try and understand the nature of the CV, and what a recruiter looks for when they review your application.

Olivia Conway

Talent Management Executive for Vantage Point Global

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