10 amazing tips to help you write a great CV

By Alan Taylor

The standard way to write a CV is to simply list all of your skills, achievements, qualifications and experience. The problem with this however is that it will fail to address lots of key points, and could let you down when it matters.

To help you stay ahead of the competition, here are 10 amazing tips on how to write a great CV and get you through to the interview stage…

1. Tailor your CV to the job

Have you ever heard of tailoring your CV to the role? If you haven’t you are missing out on a fantastic opportunity to impress the employer. A well tailored and customised CV is probably the most important tip we can offer any job seeker.

But why is this important?

The hiring manager is looking for a CV that demonstrates the right skills, qualifications and experience. If a job seeker writes a generic CV, they are not going to achieve this. Instead, they are going to make it difficult for the employer to match the candidate to the job.

Why tailoring your CV will help you get a job

2. Stick to two pages

The standard length for a CV is two pages, and whilst there are some professions which would happily role over to three, most employers are expecting just the two.

Two pages for a CV is the right length, as it will allow the reader to quickly navigate to each section and have just the right amount of information they require. One page is usually reserved for the résumé format, and isn’t commonly used in the UK.

Is a three page CV a deal breaker?

3. Cut out the cliché statements

A cliché statement often refers to a claim the job seeker makes on their CV to hold a certain skill. For instance, you will often see this written on a CV:

‘I have great written and verbal communication skills’

This type of claim has become very cliché and is often written off by the employer as hear say. The employer wants to see actual evidence to backup those claims in the form of results, performance indicators and achievements.

CV clichés employers are tired of reading

4. Be 100% certain your CV is 100% free of errors

Before your CV is emailed to an employer you should ensure it is free of any errors. A mistake can take many forms ranging from spelling and grammatical, to formatting and presentation.

The best way to ensure your CV doesn’t have any errors is to have another person check over it for you. Try to find someone who has previous management experience, as they may also be able to offer further advice on the content and quality of what you’ve presented.

Eight most common CV mistakes

5. Consider using a CV template

Trying to create a CV from scratch with little guidance is very difficult. With the recent surge in ready made CV templates you will struggle to compete with another applicant that has used one effectively.

Although there are a few badly created CV templates, if you are able to choose wisely then you can create a solid foundation for your credentials. We would also advise an experienced career professional to move over to a brand new CV template when the time is right. A recent school leaver should certainly use one, whilst an experienced worker should also give it serious consideration to keep up to date.

CV templates to fit every stage of your career

CV Template Master (free CV templates in Word format)

6. Write your CV with a positive attitude

You should never worry about the skills or experience that are lacking on your CV, and instead focus upon what you have to offer. Most successful applicants fail to provide every single request from the job advert, and will still get through to the interview stage by providing a positive and focused CV.

Writing a CV is not about self-deprecating, and is instead all about self promotion. The employer wants to know what you have to offer, and although your current skill set may not match exactly to the job description, this doesn’t mean to say you can’t make comparisons.

How to Show you have a positive attitude on your CV

7. Write a cover letter

Attaching a cover letter to your CV will on average boost your chances of getting an interview. Not every job seeker writes a cover letter, and so this will mean you are already one step ahead if you do.

Although not every employer reads or values a cover letter, this doesn’t mean that you should dismiss it. One thing is for certain when it comes to cover letters, and that’s that an employer will not frown upon seeing one – unless it’s written badly of course!

A cover letter will give you a chance to explain in a little more detail how you are the right person for the job, and what has attracted you to the position. The letter will allow you to address the hiring manager directly and make your application a little more personable and friendly, whilst remaining professional and focused upon the task at hand.

You May Have Heard that ‘Cover Letters Are Dead’

8. Check your Facebook before the employer does

Most of us have a Facebook account, and the most common thing for a hiring manager to now do when they receive a CV is to lookup that person online. The reason they do this is to try and get another angle on the entire application. Is that person a party goer, or do they appear to be a family person who takes frequent visits to the park rather than to the pub?

Being a crazy clubber doesn’t mean to say you are not going to be good at your job, however the perception you give off from your Facebook account could plant a seed of doubt in the employer’s mind. So don’t forget to check your Facebook profile before you apply, and either consider removing certain pictures or comments which could be perceived as inappropriate to an employer, or make your profile private.

How Social Media Can Sabotage Your Job Search

9. Create a LinkedIn profile

By creating a comprehensive LinkedIn profile you can boost your chances of success by up to 71% – according to ResumeGo and their recent study. The reason for this is that a great LinkedIn profile is like a digital CV and can further backup any claims you’ve made.

However, your LinkedIn profile has to be comprehensive otherwise it will actually have a negative effect on your chances. Someone who hasn’t even got an account will stand a greater chance, as they don’t have anything to bring down their application.

So don’t make a half-hearted attempt at creating an account, and instead get started today on creating valuable networks between other industry professionals, and keep your details as up to date and as fresh as possible. The employer wants to be able to see how well you immerse yourself in your career, and how professional and career focused you are.

10. Get to the point

Did you know that an employer will spend less than 30 seconds on average reading a CV? All that hard work, blood, sweat and tears that went into writing your CV feels like a waste of time if the employer can’t be bothered to read it all, right? But when the hiring manager is extremely busy and has a huge pile of CVs to read through, it makes sense that they will skim read as quickly as possible to narrow down the search.

This is why it’s vital that you get to the point on your CV and try to keep everything relevant and on topic. Although you may not be able to offer exactly what they’re looking for, this doesn’t mean to say you should bombard them with a huge list of irrelevant tasks and responsibilities from previous jobs. Instead, look to highlight key points and allow the employer to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for.