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CV Writing Tips

CV Writing Tips

If you are looking for a job in the UK, whether permanent or temporary, employers will usually ask you for your CV.

Your CV allows you to market yourself and is your first step towards impressing your potential employer. On average, HR managers usually only spend less than 1 minute scanning through your application as a first screening, so it’s important to make your CV stand out! We have compiled some useful tips into this guide to help you create your perfect CV.

Did you know that CV stands for “Curriculum Vitae”? A CV (also known as a résumé in some countries) is an outline of a person’s educational and professional history.

 

MAIN BODY

The structure (and the layout) of your CV is very important. The easiest way to structure your CV is to quickly draft what you need to include for the job you are applying for, then separate these points into different fields. These are common fields that you will want to include in your CV:

  1. Personal Details

  2. Previous Relevant Work Experience

  3. Education/Qualifications

  4. Skills

  5. Interests

  6. Referees

 

The content of your CV should only serve one purpose: to promote yourself and attract your potential employer. These are the sorts of details you should include:

 
Personal Details
  • Contact details: Name, Address, Phone Number, Email. Employers will call you back or reply to you via email. So make sure the information you give out is correct.

  • Do not include your date of birth for UK job applications (this is to prevent age discrimination).

  • You can include your LinkedIn profile if you really want to, but it is not necessary. If you include it, make sure it’s up to date and looks professional.

  • A photo is not required for most job applications. If you wish to include one, make sure it is a head and shoulder shot, with suitable professional dress and a smile. You can keep your selfies to yourself for the time being.

 
Work Experience
  • Include any work or volunteer experience that is related to the skill set of the job you are applying for.

  • Add 3-4 points to describe what you have achieved within each job position.

  • Try to relate the skills you gained from this position to the job you are applying for. It is always good to emphasise teamwork, the quality of the service or work you carried out, and examples of initiative you took within the position.

  • Use action words such as: develop, plan, organise, lead, etc.

 
Education/Qualifications
  • Include the degree you studied at university, plus any relevant subjects from A-Levels and GCSEs (or equivalent).

  • It’s not necessary to include your grades, but it is a good idea if your marks are high!

  • If applicable, mention your dissertation and any awards and achievements you gained while studying.

 
Skills

Apart from your education and work experience, you will want to include some more precise skills that you have in your CV, such as:

  • Languages, mention your level of fluency (for example: Native, Fluent, Intermediate, Conversational, Beginner)

  • Computing Skills (Microsoft Office, any other type of software)

  • Driving Licence

 
Interests
  • This section is mainly used to separate you from many other people with similar qualifications. Make this section concise and interesting!

  • Highlight anything that is relevant to the job you are applying for.

  • It makes you sound like a very interesting person if you enjoy a good range of interests.

  • Try not to list only solitary hobbies, because employers may associate this with not working well in a team. However, if you do have solitary or unique hobbies such as gardening or sculpture, be proud of it. Be specific when you mention it, and include what types of skills your hobby has helped you develop.

  • It is great to demonstrate leadership with evidence (organising events, etc.).

 
Referees
  • Most jobs will require you to have at least 2 referees. Appropriate referees include your academic tutor and previous employers; friends and family members are not usually accepted as referees. Make sure you provide your referees’ full contact details (Name, Position, Organisation, Email and Phone Number).

  • At this point, you will have usually already run out of space. If this is the case, simply adding the line “Referees upon request” at the bottom of your CV will work for the time being.

You can change the order of the content fields according to what you are trying to emphasis. Adjust different fields according to the purpose of different CVs. For example, if you do not have much work experience, start with education. Within each field, entries should be listed starting from your most recent experience (reverse chronological order), unless specified.

Make sure the font and the word size are readable on an A4 paper. Do not use Times New Roman anymore! You will be surprised that some people find it difficult to read serif font (fonts with legs). To get a modern look, use sans-serif fonts such as Verdana, Tahoma, or Calibri (the Microsoft Office default).

The length of your CV should be no more than 2 sides of an A4 paper, although some countries (like the USA) tend to prefer just 1 side of an A4 paper. If you have too much space or run out of space, try changing the margins and font used in your document. Switch between bullet points and paragraphs if needed, just make sure it looks informative but not wordy.

 

DO A FINAL CHECK

After hours of scratching your head, your CV is finally done. BUT WAIT! Before you send it off to your employer, make sure you go through the following check list!

  • Have you proofread your CV?

  • Does your CV sound positive?

  • Are you being honest about what you put on your CV?

  • Have you done a spell check? (Look up British spelling of words if not sure)

  • Have you asked someone else to do the spell check/proofreading for you?

  • Is your CV up to date?

  • Are all the details within the CV correct? (Dates, Names, etc.)

  • Are the headings and content text distinguishable in a glance?

 

Hope this guide is helpful to you! If you want some more advice regarding your job hunt in UK, tweet us @UVICedu on Twitter or leave a post on UVIC’s Facebook page (facebook.com/uvicfanpage), and we will answer your questions 1-to-1. 

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