The CV is your opportunity to tell prospective employers that you are the one they should hire or at least offer an interview to. It is the very first step on job seeker’s journey. It is the first impression, so, it is super important that you make it count. Nail this and you may well nail an interview. On average, your next employer will only spend 8 seconds on each CV that he or she has on their desk or inbox. So, it is crucial that yours stands out and grabs their attention quick! In this blog post we’ll be looking at the 8 steps for the perfect CV that you need to take in order to stand out.
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1 – Keep it concise, relevant and tidy
This is a good place to start. Ensure your CV is easy on the eye and not an overwhelming autobiography. The employer does not have time for that. You should aim for a CV that is no longer than 2 pages long. This becomes a problem as you start racking up work experience, but we’ll cover how to deal with that in step 5. So, your CV should be concise and only contain relevant information (ask yourself whether it will help you in the job or not). It should also be tidy in terms of its appearance. Use the Arial font or something similar with a size of 10-12 and divide your CV up using section headings (e.g. education, experience etc).
2 – Start well by introducing yourself
Never. Ever. Write CV or Curriculum Vitae as your title. It is a waste of space and completely pointless. The title of your CV should be your name. Make it big and bold. Also, include your mobile number and email address. There is no need for date of birth or full address, but your home town may be appropriate. We do not need to see a headshot of you, this isn’t something required or common in the UK (BUT see step 8). It is almost 2020 and therefore it would be criminal to not include your LinkedIn details (because of course you have one… right?)
3 – Sell yourself in 3 sentences with the personal statement
This is your elevator pitch. There is a lot of debate surrounding the personal statement. Should it be included or not? The argument against it is that a new graduate does not have much to sell themselves with and it takes up unnecessary space. I think I agree with this sentiment. However, if we assume that your next employer is going to look at your CV for only 8 seconds, it is going to be very convenient for them to have a short personal statement to read to get a quick snapshot of you as opposed to looking through your whole CV to manually find your highlights. So, in this section you should answer who you are, what you will bring to the new organisation and what your career goals are. Make it concise, put it into 3 sentences and you got yourself a winning personal statement as well as an elevator pitch.
Bonus tip: Tailor make this small section for every single job you apply for.
Related: How to write a personal statement
4 – Education should be current, specific and relevant
List your education details with the most recent first. Include qualification, date and institute name. Only include module details if relevant to the job role.
5 – Experience should be current, concise and relevant. In addition, know when to group and delete!
Your work experience should also be listed with the most recent first. Include the name of organisation and dates. List your job role, skills used and achievements in bullet point form. Use impact verbs here like “created” “initiated” and “implemented”. If you have accumulated a healthy amount of experience over the years, then you may be faced with the dilemma of an extra long CV (3, 4 pages!). Not to worry, you can still salvage the situation. Firstly, group similar roles together especially if they are temporary roles for example or extremely identical. Secondly, consider deleting old job details from your CV. Just mention the name of organisation and dates worked there, but delete the rest. How old? If they are over 10 years old. Especially if they are not relevant to the job you are applying for.
Bonus tip: If your experience is more impressive and relevant than your education, place if above the education.
6 – Are your skills and interests just interesting or will they help you in your new role?
Only include a skills and interests section if what you are going to list is going to help you with the job you are applying for. If it isn’t relevant, it isn’t worth mentioning. Also, only mention if there is space on your 2 page CV.
7 – References NOT available upon request
You do not need to list your reference details on your CV, as a matter of fact, it isn’t even expected of you to do so. Nor do you need to write “references available upon request”… why? Because this is stating the absolute obvious. Your references are obviously going to be available upon request. Do not waste valuable space.
Now, the final step of our 8 steps for the perfect CV is something you may not agree with, but I think you should give it a go!
8 – X-factor
The above is all good and it gives your CV the look it needs and it will place you well on the pile of candidates. However, to stand out from the crowd you need an x-factor, something that will truly make you stand out. This will border risky and it may not always work, but it will get you noticed and more often than not, for positive reasons. What is the x-factor? It is to get creative with your CV. But how? It is not the same for everyone. It could simply be to use colour on your CV or bright orange blocks or to include a nice headshot or use a fancy template to creatively include all your details on one page! This will differ from industry to industry and even individual to individual, but it is definitely worth the risk. Check out our land your dream job course, where we guide you personally on creating your own stand out CV
What did you think of our 8 steps for the perfect cv?