How to write a CV that stands out from the crowdCV

Many CVs follow the same layout and because there are a high number of applications for each job, you may be inclined to try and be a little different. Unless you are an accomplished graphic designer looking for a role in that industry, I would suggest you stick to the tried and tested format. Employers don’t generally like photos, wacky fonts, clip art, colour etc. They are happy to look at an ordinary CV but it must sell you and your skills. It must highlight how you can add value to their business but most importantly, it must be easy to read and highlight the most relevant information.

Font

Use a simple font like Arial or Calibri, size 11 or 12. Type it in Word so you can amend it for each role but save it and send it as a PDF. This way all formatting remains the same whatever system it is opened with.

Personal Details

Start with your name, in a larger font size so it stands out. You don’t need to include middle names. If you are called Thomas but use Tom, then put Tom. Add your full address, home and mobile numbers, email address and if you are on LinkedIn, add your public profile URL. You can personalise it through settings – edit your personal profile, to make it shorter and more relevant. There is no need to add your date of birth due to age discrimination rules. If you have an unprofessional email address, I suggest setting up another one. A large number of CVs are disregarded due to silly email addresses.

Personal Profile

This is the second most important part of your CV after your career history. It is an opportunity for you to provide a powerful introduction and must state what you are, what you do, what you can prove you have done and what you are currently looking for. Don’t use generic terms like ‘enthusiastic’, ‘hardworking’, ‘reliable’ etc as none of this can be proven. Think about your skills and experience and how you add value.

Key Skills

Highlight the relevant skills you have for a particular post, you can tailor these to each job. Try and list at least eight.

Career History, Employment or Work History, not Work Experience

Always start with the most recent or current job first. Ensure the company name, job title and dates are clear and easy to read. Bullet point responsibilities but don’t write it as job description. Highlight how you made a difference, use power words such as ‘Introduced’, ‘Increased’, ‘Implemented’, ‘Forged’, ‘Negotiated’, clearly stating how you added value to the company.

Achievements

Highlight relevant career achievements. It may be that you saved the company money by negotiating better rates with suppliers, increased sales by coordinating a marketing campaign, increased output by implementing a new filing system, increased website traffic by amending the copy etc. Quantify your achievements using numbers, £’s and %’s, e.g, ‘Increased warranty sales by 40% in three months’. State what you did and how it benefited the organisation. You can also add any charity events you organised and the amount of money you raised as well as major personal achievements i.e ‘Ran my first marathon in under four hours’, no need to mention winning the egg and spoon race at school!

Education or Qualifications and Training

List the most recent first. If you have a degree, state the name of the University and the title of the degree. Only add the grade if it is a 2:1 or above. You don’t need to list GCSE’s unless you have left school within the last three years, it’s enough to just add ‘8 GCSEs’ and the name and location of the school. If you are a skilled person, you will need to list your relevant qualifications and courses.

PC Skills

If you haven’t already mentioned your computer experience and it’s relevant to the role you seek, list all packages here.

Interests

It’s up to you whether or not you add interests, there is no right or wrong here. If you have interesting hobbies, you may want to add them unless they are particularly wacky. If you do any charity or voluntary work or help at the local school, church, Scouts etc you may wish to include it here.

References

There’s no point putting ‘References available on request’. Either add names, addresses, phone numbers or emails for people who don’t mind being contacted or add excerpts of written references you already have.

If you follow the above advice, you will end up with a great CV and hopefully a great job! Good luck!

Click here to download a pdf version

By Meg Murphy – Director of Red Recruitment Solutions Ltd and Owner of Red CV Writing