How to write a great CV for your next job application

Posted on: January 8th, 2019

A CV or Curriculum Vitae is quite literally an account of “the course of one’s life” if you want to use the Latin translation and is required for almost every job you apply to, yet crafting the best CV is often so labour intensive and meticulously detailed that many people can give up and go with a generic template – to their detriment!

Despite the painstaking amount of effort that goes into writing and creating your CV they are the first thing that a potential employer will see and the best way to distinguish yourself from others applying to the same role so don’t give up too quickly and consider the below points when you start to pull your information together on one page.

1. Think like an employer

Unfortunately, after all your hard work, the number of hiring managers who will read your CV thoroughly is low because they get so many applications for one role. Most recruiters will skim your CV for standout things that relate to the experience they are looking for. Imagine that the person reading your application has been given a tick list of things for the new hire and then make things on your CV stand out that are important “must-haves” on the job description. This way a recruiter can scan your CV and easily use the job description as a check list to see that you have all the skills they need!

2. Start with the basics

Does the phrase ‘style over substance’ ring bells for anyone? The best thing you can do for your CV is to forget the style and formatting until you’ve got all the substance down on the page. While good looking CV’s are great, and trust us – we’ve seen some photoshop masterpieces, they are a listing of your work history and personal achievements so getting these written up properly should be your number one aim.

3. Include dates on your work history

One of the most common CV mistakes we see are applicants who don’t put start and end dates on their work history or they will only put the year they worked such as 2018. While applicants might think this looks better or it fits better with the CV’s formatting it can be quite misleading for recruiters reading the application. If you think like a recruiter they may have been asked to find a candidate with 2 – 3 years’ experience in a specific industry and we can’t tell how long you’ve been in a role. You may have worked from January 2018 to December 2018 or you may have only been there for one month, there’s a big difference so make sure you include dates on your CV!

4. Don’t use too many pages!

While a CV is a written history of your jobs and achievements sometimes there are some things you just don’t need to include. Your CV should be a concise and readable synopsis of your work and life history so 2 pages is perfect, 3 pages are fine at a push as long as everything you put on there is relevant to the role for which you are

applying. Waxing lyrical about every gig you’ve ever been to and your love of dogs is probably best kept for your personal blog!

5. Tailor your CV and keep your personal statement relevant.

So, you think you’ve written a great CV, you’ve meticulously looked up work dates and achievements and you think you’re ready to go? Make sure your personal statement is ready to go too! While it’s hard to tailor your CV for every job you apply for it’s always worth going the extra mile to secure a job interview, right? Another common mistake most recruitment agencies see is an outdated personal statement or a statement talking about how much a candidate would absolutely love to work in marketing when they’re applying for an accounting role. Take a second to check your personal statement before applying to a job as this is something that hiring managers always read and can sometimes give the impression that the job you are applying for is one of many, or not a role that you really want.

Bristol recruitment icons