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How to Write a Great CV in 5 Steps

Lady writing CV tips

Today in the Keen People blog we are going to be running through how to write a CV that really stands out, as the first in our four-part series for job hunters – Ask a Recruiter. Different industries have a resume format that they prefer, so we will be focussing on getting yourself noticed in the tech industry.

STEP 1: Pick Your Format

It seems obvious, but pick a clear format for your CV. While we can all be drawn in by the fancy templates offered to us by almost every word processing app, sometimes simpler really is better. A recruiter or hiring manager needs to be able to clearly read the document, and sometimes when opened in other formats those fancy templates do not translate well. Not to mention, you want them to focus on you, who you are and your skills so while a creative CV template is great for design-based roles, this is really the only time it is relevant. It is also good to try and get your CV to be as close to a page as possible, 2-3 pages is fine, but the chances of someone reading a full 7-page history are slim when there are a lot of applicants.

REMEMBER: While your CV does not need to contain your full address, marital status or how many kids you have, please put your email, phone number and a town or city location down!

STEP 2: Write Your Summary and Objective

A great summary can be the difference between getting an interview and getting a rejection in an increasingly busy job market. You want to give the reader a little flavour of your personality, as well as highlighting any key skills and achievements from the very beginning. We’d recommend keeping this to around 250 words maximum though, as it still needs to be concise and readable. Your objective should form part of this, what roles are you aiming for and how do your skills and soft skills prepare you for this? The summary section is the only section (other than interests should you choose to include them) where the reader can get an idea for your personality, and whether that will fit with the company.

STEP 3: Show Off

This section is where you really get to sell yourself. It seems unusual, but brag about your achievements! List each role you have had, the time you spent there and the company before you launch into your responsibilities. Then talk a little about what your day-to-day role was, anything you’re proud of and any awards you received or achievements. Recruiters and hiring managers really like to see this clearly laid out, in order to best match you to a role.

REMEMBER: Tailor your CV slightly to every role you apply for, have a look at their job description and emphasise things you have done that fit the job description over achievements that will be less relevant.

STEP 4: Location, Location, Location

This is a lot of information to fit into a small space, so make sure you are reviewing and editing as you go along. We also recommend that you keep two lists separate from the body of text for skills and education. It is much easier to list your skills separately, and then explain them in the ‘Previous Experience’ section as this ensures you can convey your skillset within seconds of viewing your CV and really get the hiring manager’s interest. Each section should be clearly marked. Here is an idea of a clear CV structure:

  • Summary / Personal Statement
  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Interests

STEP 5: Keep On Swimming

Submit your CV and let your talent speak for itself, while every role might not be the one for you, having a clear, concise, and consistent CV style means that you have an edge already.

REMEMBER: Double check your CV for spelling and grammar with a read through, as well as a spell checker, as while computers are great, they aren’t native speakers like you!

Come back next time for the next instalment in our Ask A Recruiter Series, where we will be going through FAQs we get from candidates, and the advice we have for them.

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