Careers Advice 5 min read

How To Improve Your CV: From The Recruitment Experts

Imani Brown posted on

When searching for your dream job, it can be difficult to know where to begin. But one thing that will always be of use during your search, is having a well polished and relevant CV. This will often be the employers first introduction to you – so you want to make it worthwhile!

Our recruitment experts at Give A Grad A Go read a lot of CV’s. In fact, we currently have over 300,000 candidates in our database! With this experience we have created this blog to guide you through the first steps of your job application process. We will be giving you our expert advice on the do’s and don’t of CV writing, to give you the best possible chance of getting your CV to the top of the pile and landing your dream job.

Do’s and Don’ts:

- Add dates to all of your education and experience and ensure these are consistent with your LinkedIn profile. Employers will be suspicious of times that don’t add up or large gaps in your CV.

- When you are applying for graduate jobs, you don’t want to be making it any longer than 1 to 2 sides of an A4 page. If you feel as though you want to add more information, include the most important details and use your LinkedIn page as a great tool to share the additional information -‘for full employment history, please see LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/username’.

- You want to make your CV visually appealing. Ensure that you keep the layout and fonts easy to read with plenty of white space. It’s also good practice to use bullet points and short sentences. Calibri is a good, clear font that works well for resumes.

- Save your CV under a sensible file name, ‘First name, Last Name – CV’ not ‘final final CV’ or ‘fkghsdkfjs’.

What to include:

Details - Your details should be clear and at the top of your CV. Use ‘First name Last Name – CV’ as your headline. Add your phone number, address, LinkedIn and a sensible email address (e.g. not sexyhunk@hotmail.co.uk)

Personal Statement - Always include a personal statement – just a couple of sentences at the top of your CV selling yourself. Try to make this unique for each application. Keep it short, sharp and persuasive; the aim is to make an employer want to read the rest of your CV.

Education - Put your education in chronological order with the most recent first. Include the grades for all of you’re A-Levels; whether they’re good or bad, employers will want to know them and leaving them off looks suspicious! For GCSE’s, don’t waste space listing all your grades. Instead, lay them out like so: 4 A’s, 4 B’s 1 C or 10 All A*-B.

Work Experience - If you have several put your most relevant and applicable experience for the application at the top under a subheading ‘Relevant Experience’. If you want to add experience which isn’t directly relevant to the role you’re applying or, place it under the sub-heading ‘Other experience’. If you don’t have any relevant experience, don’t worry – list the experience you do have chronologically, concentrating on what you accomplished in your time there, rather than listing every aspect of the job.

Interests - Only include interests if they’re relevant and professional. General interests include sports, musical instruments, books, travelling, or you can get specific to your chosen career. Creative CVs may bene t if you have photography or painting as an interest.

References - The best reference practice is to simply say ‘References available on request’. Make sure you do have some references in mind or prepared for this.

Top Tips for the CV Content:

Keep clichés out of your personal profile - Try to make your personal profile as unique and as non-generic as possible. Avoid phrases like ‘I’m a fantastic team-player’ or ‘I’m a great communicator’ unless they’re followed up by qualifying facts, e.g. ‘As a confident communicator, I loved my role as social secretary of the badminton society.’ Your profile should clearly outline your career objectives – including what skills you are keen to use, as well as identify the areas of industry you’re keen to work in, making sure this matches the sector of the job you’re applying to.

Talk about your accomplishments - Employers want to hear about your successes, rather than your duties – they want to hire high achieving, rather than obedient. They want to meet people that are going to add value to their business. For instance, if an employer is looking for a Marketing Assistant, ‘responsible for social media marketing’ isn’t exactly going to light their fire. On the other hand, ‘Grew the company B2B Twitter following by 2,500 in three weeks, generating three new leads’ will get their attention. If you were awarded any extra responsibilities, hit specific targets, or helped to implement a new strategy, be sure to highlight these.

Be individual – Remember to tailor your CV to the role you are applying for. This is important for both the content and for the template. We have a brilliant range of free CV templates on our websites which you can use for a variety of different industries.

Explain all gaps - Try and keep gaps in your CV to a minimum. Any that are longer than a month post graduating, should ideally be accounted for. Whether you’ve been travelling, had family issues or an illness, write a sentence or two on your CV just to explain what you were doing. If you’ve been searching for a job for a long period, make sure you fill in the gap using any volunteering activities, part-time work, or training you’ve been doing during that time.

Awards, achievements & interests – Employers will want to see personality in your CV and a great way to stand out over other candidates who may have the same education and work as you is to talk about why you are unique. Think about times when you have really excelled over your peers, this could be either at school or University but also in general – perhaps a in a club, through music or charity work. If you are always keeping busy, tell them what you do in your spare time - travelling, books, music etc, it all helps to paint a more individual picture. Just make sure you keep it professional.

Target your CV - Your CV shouldn’t be a static document; it must be carefully tailored for each and every single application you make. Take a look at the specifications you’re being asked for and highlight the experience on your CV, indicating how it meets the requirements. If the job you’re applying for is in the tech sector and your CV says you want to work in pharmaceuticals then it is very unlikely to get into the ‘yes’ pile.

Triple check your spelling and grammar - A CV with spelling and grammar mistakes is a real pet peeve of employers (and us!), so triple check your work and ask a family member or friend to check again too, sometimes it needs a second pair of eyes. Yes, everyone can slip up – employers included – but spelling and grammar mishaps on your CV show you either a) lack written communication skills, or b) don’t have a great attention to detail – neither of which is going to hold much appeal to a potential employer!

Courtesy of Give a Grad a Go

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How To Improve Your CV: From The Recruitment Experts
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