CV WRITING

The Art of a Fantastic CV

Our top tips and tricks to help you make an impact using just the power of words!

Employers can gauge a first impression of your CV after as little as 3 seconds of reading it, and often have just 10-20 seconds to skim through the rest of it. However, if you grab their attention from the ‘get-go’, they will be far more inclined to invest the time into reading the rest of your CV in more detail.

How do I get 3 seconds of greatness into my CV, you may be thinking? Don’t worry, we have a heap of tips and tricks to help you make an impact using just a single piece of paper and the power of words!

Think of your CV as an advert for yourself. When you see an advert for an event they don’t throw all of the information at you, instead, they give you only the key information (dates, location and the acts). The aim of the game is to grab your attention enough to make you want to know more.

Well, the same goes for a CV! There are lots of little tricks that you can use to create a powerful CV which will leave your potential employer desperate to meet you in person! We recommend remembering the mnemonic ‘CARE’ to keep your CV powerful and punchy!

  • Concise
  • Accessible
  • Relevant – getting rid of interests – save for interview
  • Engaging – advert, want to know more, designed to get you to interview

How Do I Keep My CV Concise?

CVs are not meant to be exhaustive. Brevity is powerful, so try not to give too much away. Being concise does not mean being vague, you should try to be tactical with your word choices so that you explain the most relevant information for each of your experiences rather than delving too far into details that could be explained in an interview:

  • Creating powerful bullet points can be a great way of explaining the experience you gained from each of your previous roles in a logical fashion. For example, try creating bullets which clearly outline your responsibilities, the skills and competencies you used, and any results you drove or achievements you are proud of. This will help keep descriptions concise but informative.
  • Don’t give your employer the prospect of sifting through pages of prose, make it easy for them and highlight your most relevant experience and skills on a single, well-thought out page.

Is My CV Accessible?

This means making it easy for someone to navigate through your CV to find what they’re looking for. No matter how great your experience, if it’s hidden amongst chaos your potential employer will never be able to find it!

  • Use a clear structure such as ‘Profile, Relevant Experience, Education, Awards/Projects, and Interests.’ If you are struggling for space, prioritise the most important sections and take out the latter. This will provoke nicer questions in the interview as they’ll want to know what you’re interested in.
  • Use a clear font of 10pt or 11pt – a cluttered CV written in Bookman Old Style font is a massive turn off, so stick to what we all know best – a good bit of Cambria and Arial.• White space can convey one of two things; too much suggests that you’ve run out of things to say, however, too little white space on a page gives the impression of chaos and overcrowding. Aim for up to 30% white space on your CV to keep it clear and accessible.

    Knowing What’s Relevant

    Reminding yourself of the requirements of the role you’re applying for is essential here. This is how you can demonstrate to an employer why you’d be a valuable addition to their team:

  • Show not tell! Keep descriptions evidence based; your employer doesn’t want to feel like they’re taking a risk, so show them the evidence that you have what it takes.
  • Write out a list of your experience and the skills and competencies that you needed for each. Read through the job advert and company material to identify the key competencies they’re looking for. Select the examples from your list that best demonstrate these qualities and this will help you keep your CV relevant and focused on their particular role.
  • Keeping your achievements and experience relevant is essential, so avoid dating your experience back too far to roles that bear little relevance to the role you’re applying for.

    Am I Engaging My Employer?

    It’s worth remembering that a CV is meant to get you to the interview, not the job itself – so focus on engaging them enough to take you to the next stage!

  • Starting with a ‘Profile’ can instantly grab your reader’s attention if done well. This is where your 3 seconds of greatness comes in! Be creative with it but keep it to one or two sentences focused on who you are, where you currently are in your work, what you’re looking for and a couple of great qualities about yourself.
  • The trick to engaging a potential employer is to not give too much away! You don’t want to be stuck for words when your interviewer asks you for an interesting achievement or skill outside of those mentioned in your CV.
  • The dreaded ‘Hobbies and Interests’ section can be the perfect opportunity to engage your potential employer if you learn how to use it cleverly. The aim of the game should be to start a conversation, by offering your employer some information about yourself that interests them enough to want to learn more about you. No…believe it or not, a comprehensive list of your primary school swimming badges is not a great conversation starter. Instead, try something like ‘I used to compete nationally in a sport’ or ‘I currently mentor young enterprise students’.
  • Give these tips and tricks a go and then ask a friend or co-worker to read your CV once. A pair of fresh eyes is always a bonus! Take a look at our ‘What not to include in your CV’ and ‘How to Write a Prize Winning Profile’ blogs where you can find more tips on how to showcase your skills in the best way possible. Our team are always happy to lend a helping hand when it comes to improving your CV, so do not hesitate to pick up the phone or check out our sister guide to writing a Prize Winning Profile.