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How To Write The Perfect CV

Candidate Advice

How To Write The Perfect CV

How To Write The Perfect CV

Found that perfect job and ready to apply?  Is your CV a bit outdated and just not getting you noticed for the right reasons? Don’t worry; we’re here to help with some hints and tips for creating that CV ‘wow’ factor that gets your foot in the door! 

As the UK’s fastest-growing, privately-owned multisector recruitment agency, we appreciate how daunting it can be to job hunt at any time, let alone following the most extraordinary 18 months we’ll hopefully ever experience in our lifetimes. We’re here to guide you and have compiled some top tips to help you on your way in our 6 parts ‘The Ultimate Job Guide’.

In Part 1 we took a moment to think about true career paths, stop, take time out and reconsider where you are and where you’re going, and review how jobs you apply for might fit your skill set and what type of culture might suit you best.

Part 2 was about planning the Job Hunt, where to start, how to structure your time in preparation for the job hunt ahead.

Part 3 was all about social media and networking and how they can help you in your quest, and now we’re ready to tackle the CV.

To get yourself noticed by potential employers, you’ll need to master the art of self-promotion via your CV.  When it comes to applying for jobs, we often struggle to talk about ourselves and our professional experiences in a positive light, so planning your’ sales pitch’ can go a long way to landing you your ideal role.

Your CV is your first opportunity to convince the employer that they should buy into you over another candidate, so it’s essential to make sure it presents you in the best possible way.

Your skills, experience and suitability for a role may be the most crucial part of your CV, but when employers see lots of CVs for one position, it’s vital to catch their eye from the get-go.

Reports show that recruiters spend less than 30 seconds looking at a CV – that’s why you must make a big impact at the start to keep them reading. Recruiters will scan the top third of your CV before they decide whether to look at the rest, so you need to make sure this is interesting enough to persuade them to keep reading!  A good CV might get you noticed, but a great one will get you hired – or at least get you an interview.

Get Stylish:  Make sure you get the basic format right. Font style and size, number of pages, and level of detail included for past positions are all elements to consider. Choose a font that’s clean and modern – Times New Roman could be considered old-fashioned or unimaginative, so try Arial or Calibri.

Less is More:  Too much text will switch off a potential employer, so no novels!  Try to keep to 2 pages (absolute max. 3) and use bullet points rather than long paragraphs.  Don’t feel like you need to fill all the white space on the page.

Our friends over at TotalJobs are big fans of the white space on your CV and say:

“Use it wisely to give the readers eyes a rest and a natural place to stop at the end of sentences and paragraphs. Break up your text into separate sections that use clear headings – this will make it easier for employers to zone in on relevant areas and pick out all the necessary information they need to decide on your application.”

Be Creative:  Remember, you’re trying to stand out from the crowd, so get creative!  Add professional graphics, icons, a secondary font and a pop of colour to catch the eye.  But judge it, we’re not talking Carnival, Fiesta or rainbow styles here; keep it classy!

However, if you’re applying for a creative role, that’s the time to get imaginative. One candidate even printed their CV on a paper coffee cup to get it seen by the hiring manager.

Perfect Personal Prose:  Once you’ve sorted the formatting, add a concise personal statement at the beginning that highlights all of your key attributes for the role – remember to amend this for each application so that it’s relevant to the position.  Personal qualities can be more important than experience in some industries, such as Health and Social Care, so inject some character with a short sentence or two about what drives you and what you bring to a role. If you’ve never worked in care before, this is especially important, as it explains why you want to join the sector.

History Matters:  Next up is your employment history.  Include everything, even if unrelated to the industry. For the care sector, it’s essential to account for all of your work experience for regulatory reasons.  Remember to explain any gaps where you were unemployed, abroad or in another type of employment (whether this was part-time, volunteer or not directly applicable to the care sector).

Stay on Target:  Make sure your CV targets the job requirements.  Start by picking out the role specifics in the full job description (always ask for a copy).   Think about the essential qualities the employer wants to see and how you can demonstrate these. If you’re worried you don’t have the exact experience required, remember that skills are transferable, so use other areas of your work or personal life that you can use as examples. If you haven’t worked in a specific type of setting before, but have worked with other groups of people with closely associated needs, point this out on your CV.

Show Off!  Employers want to see evidence of your achievements, so shout about them! It’s not just the what you did, but the how and why you did them and the results you created.  Use specific examples and active words. For example, rather than saying, “Assisting with the creation of support plans,” you could say, “I developed a support plan that resulted in the individual achieving a better quality of independent living.” In one sentence, this would show the employer your skill (capable of handling responsibility) and the improvement this created (a direct impact on the client’s well being).

Double and Triple Check:  Once you’re happy with your CV layout and content, you must proofread it once, twice, even three times!  Typos and grammar errors are THE biggest bugbears for recruiters, so don’t allow your outstanding CV to be thrown out because of a few avoidable errors. If writing is not your strong point, ask a friend or family member to cast their eyes over it before sending it out.  There are also a range of free apps that can help, such as Grammarly, Hemingway, Prowritingaid etc.

Signed, Sealed and Delivered:  When sending your CV through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – a system used by many companies to perform the first sift through CVs – attach your document as Microsoft Word.  PDFs can often introduce formatting errors when read by this system.  However, if you send your CV directly via email, send it as a PDF as it will read better than the original edited Word document.

We’d love to hear about how you’ve made your CV stand out – share your tips with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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