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Seven steps to a super CV

In the dog-eat-dog world of work, your CV needs to deliver some bite. Make silly mistakes and your chances of that dream job are all but a big bowl of Butcher’s meaty chunks.

Having had the pleasure recently of rewriting a couple of CVs for some lovely clients, we thought we’d write a blog about some of the main points that we think make for a killer CV.

Although there’s no one right way to produce a great CV — and as much as we’re keen advocates of individuality — there are certain things to bear in mind when writing your curriculum vitae.

1) Personal Profile

This is a vital section of your CV. Place your personal profile top and central for maximum impact. Your personal profile is your sales pitch. So, sell yourself. Why should this employer choose you for the role? What personal attributes do you have that make you the ideal candidate for the position?

Tailor your CV to the particular role you’re applying for.

Make sure you highlight relevant work experience and link your skills and attributes to those being looked for in the role. Obviously, don’t make anything up, but place emphasis on the skills and experience you have that link to those desired.

2) Personal details

Make sure your personal details are clear and visible. These ideally need to go at the top of your CV.

But how personal do you need to get?

Include your name, email address, telephone numbers and home address. Only include how you want to be contacted and in the order you wish to be contacted. So, if you’d prefer to receive correspondence via email, rather than via post, put that first.

You don’t need to include your date of birth, inside leg measurement or bra size.

And don’t include a photograph. (Unless of course you happen to be applying to appear on the next season of Britain’s Next Top Model). You want to be considered for your super skills and enviable experience, rather than allowing your appearance and age to be factors for consideration.

3) Layout and structure

It’s important that your CV is clear and easy to read. Avoid fancy graphics as these will only distract the reader — your messages need to be clear and uncompromised.

We would suggest using a 12 point font, as anything smaller can lead to a headache and anything larger can lead to needing a billboard. Ideally your CV should be no more than 2 sides of A4 and typed in black ink on white paper. Save the fancy, colourful fonts for your thank you letters to Gran.

List your employment history in chronological order. So, your current or most recent employment goes at the top. And place more emphasis on these roles, as most employers won’t read beyond the first two or three.

4) Research

Want to really stand out from the hoard of other applicants? Of course you do, so don’t forget to do your homework.

Research all the keywords related to the job or industry you’re applying for. Pepper these into your profile and throughout your recent experience. Use synonyms if keywords tend to be overused — this will also show off your wide and impressive vocabulary.

Find out about, not only the company you’re applying to, but also their competitors. And demonstrate you’re up-to-date with all the key areas of your field. Some of this can be dropped into your CV and will certainly be useful at interview stage.

5) Language

Ensure you use active language. Why?

Writing your CV in the active voice says to the reader that you’re a doer — that you make things happen.

Using the passive voice suggests you’re someone who things happen to, rather than reassuring your reader that you’re the go-getting and motivated person you of course are.

Avoid overused words and phrases in your CV and particularly in your personal profile. Be more original than merely ‘hardworking’ or ‘reliable’. The person reading your CV will no doubt have to read through many, so don’t use the same nothingy words to describe your attributes as everyone else.

A surefire way to find your CV scrunched into a cylindrical shape and flying through the air, is to use the toe-curling clichés used by every sales executive since the beginning of the modern age. A particular toe-curler to avoid: ‘works well independently and as part of a team’ — Eeeekkk!

Say something different – you’ll standout and be remembered.

6) Proofread. And proofread again. And again…

So, you’ve slaved away for what seems like days constructing the greatest CV ever seen by the human eye. You’re sure to get the job. Heck, your CV is so brilliant you may well be considered to replace the MD himself. But, wait a minute, there are spelling, grammar and punctuation errors…

Silly mistakes may cost you the job — no matter how fabulous the content is — so always proofread yourself and get someone else to check it for you too.

Make sure to ask someone who’ll give you honest and constructive feedback… so probably not Gran then. Sorry, Gran!

7) Online image

Not strictly part of your CV, but an area you should consider nonetheless is your social media profiles.

The first thing most employers will do when considering you for a position is look you up on the internet.

Apart from the drunken pictures in The Lamb and Flag (which may be a good idea to remove!), it’s very important to think about your LinkedIn profile if you have one.

Is it up-to-date? Does it showcase your best skills and attributes? Is your photograph clear and professional? If not, spend some time sharpening your online image.

These are our top seven tips on how to write a super CV. Have we missed anything that you think is key? Let us know in the comments box below.

Or, if you’d like us to write a killer CV for you or spruce up your LinkedIn profile, get in touch and we’ll get sprucing.


P.S – Don’t forget to accompany your CV with a covering letter.

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