Writing a stand-out CV can be one of the trickiest challenges you face whilst job hunting. It’s your first opportunity to make a great first impression to a potential employer so it’s important to get right. Recruiters and employers who receive lots of CVs don’t waste time whittling down applicants, so how do you make it to the top of that all-important interview pile? Read our top CV tips to help you ace that application process.
Keep it up to date
Firstly, make sure all the information on your CV is up to date. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a job or not, it’s good practice to add to your CV every time something significant occurs in your career.
Tailor your application
Tailoring your application is vital; an employer or recruiter should read your CV and immediately see key skills relevant to the job they are recruiting for. For example, if you’re applying for a retail position, and you’ve got experience in both care and retail, make sure that your retail experience is more prominent on your CV so it stands out. Also, really think about if each job/experience detailed on your CV is relevant - your first Saturday job might not be anymore.
Read through the job description and highlight the essential qualities/requirements of the role, then read your CV; how many of these keywords and skills can you see in your CV?
Directly underneath your name and contact details (email, phone number, location, LinkedIn profile link), it’s a good idea to write a personal profile to tell the employer who you are, what you’re looking for, and your top skills in a couple of sentences. This summarising statement is a great way to grab the employer or recruiter’s attention and outline what you’re all about before they read on. Don’t forget to tailor this to each application and include keywords mentioned in the job description!
Example: Currently working in a management role in the Hospitality industry, I am looking for a new challenge to put my strong organisational and people skills into practice and further my professional development.
Focus on achievements
This is your opportunity to sell yourself as an individual and show off your successes. Rather than listing your duties, focus on your achievements, turning passive sentences into active ones.
Example: Change ‘a promotion was rewarded to me after a year of service’ to ‘I was awarded a promotion after a year of service.’
Give specific examples to back up your claims too, using figures where possible. Active, achievement-focussed language and statistics highlight the impact you had in your previous roles.
Example: Change ‘I was responsible for selling stock to businesses’ to ‘I consistently hit my sales targets, increasing sales by 30% over six months.’
Keep it short and to the point
The general rule is to limit your CV to two pages maximum. Of course, if you’re just starting out, you may only fill one page comprehensively, and that’s okay. Or, if you have a lot of high-level experience, you may need more than the two page limit.
Make it easy for your potential employer to read by using bullet points throughout and keep sentences short.
Check your spelling
This tip is arguably the most important: ensure everything on your CV is spelt correctly. Employers who have large numbers of applications will see any spelling and grammar mistakes as a way of differentiating between candidates, therefore it is imperative your CV is error-free. Use spelling and grammar checkers and ask someone else to proof-read it for you.
Make it look good
Your CV should be easy to read, so choose a clear font such as Arial or Times New Roman and ensure you leave sufficient white space around each section. Use headers to section your CV so the reader can easily find your experience, education etc. Keep it simple with black text colour on white paper; you want your experience to make you stand out as a candidate, not your design (unless of course, you are going for a design role!).
Most people send their CV to employers or recruiters in a Microsoft Word document or PDF format, however PDF is recommended as different versions of Microsoft Word may affect the format.
Now you’ve read our top tips and your CV is looking its best, you’re ready to start applying. Check out our wide range of Apprenticeship vacancies with top Welsh employers who are currently recruiting.