10 top tips to make your CV great
Whatever job you are applying for, it is essential to stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re trying to secure a graduate job or applying for part-time work over the summer, check out our Head of Careers, Liz Manning’s, top tips for writing a CV that will get you noticed.
1. Know what to include
Your CV offers a record of your life, showing a potential employer your qualifications, skills and experience and all other information they might need to judge your suitability for a role.
While there is no right or wrong way to write a CV, there are some common things you should consider including somewhere on your CV:
- Personal details, including contact information
- Your career objective or personal profile (this is optional)
- Qualifications and education
- Work experience (paid and unpaid)
- Evidence of relevant skills
- Interests and achievements
- Referees (check with them before you include their contact details on your CV)
It’s also really important to include information that helps you stand out from the crowd.
Have you studied abroad? Won any awards? Been involved in special projects? Undertaken interesting research for your dissertation? Do you speak any languages? Have you contributed to print or digital publications like a student blog? Do you volunteer in the community? Are you a member of a professional association? What specialist technical skills do you have? Did you work abroad or travel as part of your course?Be sure to mention any similar examples within your CV.
2. Keep it concise
When it comes to CVs, it pays to keep things short and sweet. Employers are often faced with a huge pile of applications, so if your CV is too long or includes large paragraphs of text, there is a risk they won’t get to the end of it (or read it at all!) Try to keep your CV to a maximum of two A4 pages, and…
3. Take care with your presentation
Giving your CV a clear structure and making it look aesthetically pleasing is absolutely crucial. We recommend leaving lots of white space and using easily readable fonts to make your CV as inviting to read as possible.
With this in mind, it is also advisable to place your most important information in the upper middle area of the first page. This is where your reader’s eye will fall first, so take advantage of this.
4. Use positive and strong language
Your use of language can transform your achievements helping to make them exciting and worthwhile. Using active verbs like ‘created, started, managed, designed, devised and achieved’ can help showcase the skills you have and give your CV an edge.
For example, rather than saying ‘my project was a study of local clubs’, reword this to say ‘organised an extensive survey investigating student use of local clubs’.
Wherever you can, be specific about the tasks you performed and skills you gained during that work experience. For example, state that you ‘arranged interviews with students, analysed the results and presented the information to my tutor.
5. Read the job description carefully
When reading your CV, employers are looking to see how well you suit a job specification. Therefore, it’s important you tick all their boxes!
When you are writing your CV for a role, look carefully at the job description and use a highlighter to pick out the areas where you match. Then, use evidence from your previous roles/responsibilities or your degree course to illustrate how you have gained/demonstrated this skill in the past and use this in your CV.
6. Target your CV
We know it might sound like a lot of work, but this is absolutely vital!
There’s no such thing as a CV that will suit every job, so creating a general, one-size-fits-all CV unfortunately won’t work! To stand a chance of being noticed, you will need to customise your CV to the role and the employer.
Don’t panic! While your CV should be unique for every job you apply for, this doesn’t mean that you have to rewrite the whole thing from scratch – just adapt sections so they are relevant to the role.
We recommend saving a copy of each CV you make so you can refer back to it if you ever need to.
7. Include relevant skills
Focusing on your transferable skills can be a fantastic way to help make your CV attractive and can be particularly useful if you don’t have sector experience relevant to the role.
Communication skills, IT skills, team working, problem-solving and even speaking a foreign language are attractive and relevant to employers, so don’t neglect to show you have them.
You could illustrate this by using examples from your academic work, extra-curricular activities, part-time work, hobbies, interests and other experiences, so have a think about what you could use to make your skills shine.
8. WOW them with your interests
Telling your employers about your hobbies and passions can express who you are as a person.
Be sure to include examples of any positions of responsibility, such as running a university society or taking part in a football team, which show you have initiative or teamwork skills. These are the sort of attributes that graduate employers frequently look for.
9. Make sure your ‘spolling’ and ‘gramer’ are perfect
This is a no-brainer!
Before you send it off, proofread your CV very carefully for spelling and grammar errors. If you struggle with this, consider asking a friend or relative to help you – and if you’re a current student at the University of Winchester, don’t forget that you can receive help with this from Academic Skills in Student Services.
10. Don't forget to update it!
Review your CV regularly and make sure you add new skills or experiences as soon as you gain them. This will ensure you always have a fantastic CV handy when a potential new role pops up!
Happy job hunting!
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