How hard is it to write your job history on a piece of paper?

Actually, harder than you think.

Especially if you have decades of experience to squeeze into a couple of A4 pages.

CV writing is an art form, a skill in itself, and until you have done it over and over, perfected, tweaked and got an interview from it, assume that you might be doing something wrong.

Follow our important do’s and don’ts of CV writing, to learn the tricks of the craft.

Do’s

Make every CV bespoke

Tailor your CV to every job you’re applying for, rather than submitting your CV erratically.

Each job advert will have its own particular set of requirements, and you need to familiarise yourself with them and show the employer that you fulfil them.

Go through the job description and highlight the requirements you fulfil. Don’t worry if you don’t tick every single box; you need to match the essential criteria at the very least to pique the recruiter’s interest.

Support every claim with evidence

When listing key skills, experience and attributes on your CV, you must support every claim with proof of use.

For example, it’s all very well stating that you have extensive experience in the automotive industry – but what does that really mean?

As you list a skill, ensure it’s supported by some form of evidence, such as numbers or statistics, to prove your value. For example, telling the recruiter that you have “excellent communication skills” is good, but writing that you have “excellent communication skills proved by your five-star customer satisfaction record” is better.

Including facts and numbers wherever possible offers recruiters tangible results and achievements. This shows the value you can bring to the role, placing you ahead of the competition.

Proofread

71% of recruiters rank typos as the cardinal sin of CV errors.

And it’s not difficult to see why.

If you have even one spelling mistake on your CV, what does that say about your attention to detail or how you carry yourself as a professional?

To recruiters, you’ll seem like too much of a risk and employers are unlikely to want you to represent their brand if you can’t proofread your own CV efficiently.

Therefore, once you have finished your CV, give your eyes a rest for a while. When you return to proof, try reading your CV aloud as you’re more likely to catch anything that sounds off.

Also, don’t rely on a spellchecker for the typos. After all, you may have written “manger” and meant “manager”, but spellcheck won’t pick that up. You might like to invest in a free document proof-reader like Grammarly, which is much more intelligent at catching errors than your standard Word program.

Don’ts

Handwrite

Don’t handwrite your CV. While you might stand out from the crowd, this is completely unprofessional and you risk employers not being able to read it if your handwriting’s not dissimilar to a spider dragging ink across a page.

Overcomplicate language

Don’t assume your CV will be read by a human on the first sifting. You have to write it for applicant tracking systems (ATS) and keep the language and formatting as simple as you can.

For example, you might be an excellent “brand warrior”. But that term is far too out of the ordinary for a CV. Sticking with “marketing manager” is a more identifiable search term that is not only going to score you points with applicant tracking systems but also in a search, if your CV is on a job board.

Include overly personal information

There are anti-discrimination laws in place to prevent potential employers from actively choosing not to hire you, based on certain pieces of information that you include.

But research suggests that employment discrimination does occur, so it’s best to leave out anything that doesn’t affect your ability to do the job, such as your marital status, date of birth, race, gender or disabilities.

Also, don’t include a photo of yourself. It simply isn’t required.

Exceed three pages

As a rule of thumb, CVs should be no longer than two pages. However, if you have been in the working game for longer than a decade, recruiters will give you an extra page – as long as you use it wisely.

Your most recent position of employment should be expanded on the most. This is because it’s more relevant to recruiters. Of course, the rule bends slightly if you’re applying for a job unrelated to your current role.

On average, any work experience over 10 years’ old can be summarised into employment dates, job title, company and a line about what you did.

However, if you’re still chasing three pages, you can condense positions older than five years – just remember to avoid cutting too much. Use your discretion and pick out the best and most relevant parts in relation to the job you’re applying for, otherwise you could do more harm than good to your application.

Lie

Don’t lie. Assume that any fib you include on your CV will be found out. And if that happens during the recruitment process you will be dropped like a hot potato.

If it gets uncovered once you’ve been hired, you could well be in breach of your contract and be fired, landing you back at stage one: job hunting and CV writing.

Remember that your CV is your one chance to make a great first impression with an employer, so make it count. You won’t get the opportunity to have another go.

 

CV-Library is the UK’s leading independent job board. For more expert advice on job searches, careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages.

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