How to: Write a CV | reed.co.uk (2024)

How to: Write a CV | reed.co.uk (1)

by Amber Rolfe

Writing a CV can be a stressful task, especially if you’re starting from scratch…

And although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the perfect CV, it should always be clearly formatted and short enough for a recruiter to scan quickly – and most importantly – tailored to the role you’re applying for.

Not sure where to start? Here are some basic rules on how to write a CV:

What information should I include on my CV?

CVs should never be completely formulaic, but there are a few things they should always contain:

1. Personal details:

It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to include their name, email, contact phone number and address. To avoid any awkward moments, make sure these are clearly presented at the top of your CV. ‘Curriculum Vitae’ is an unnecessary title – your name is not.

2. Personal statement

As it’s the first thing that’s shown on your CV, a personal statement is an essential part of standing out from the crowd. It explains who you are, what you’re offering, and what you’re looking for. Aim to prove why you’re suitable in one short and succinct paragraph.

3. Work experience:

This section should include all of your relevant work experience, listed with the most recent first. Include your job title, the name of the organisation, time in post, and your key responsibilities.

4. Achievements:

This is your chance to show how your previous experience has given you the skills needed to make you a suitable candidate. List all of your relevant skills and achievements (backing them up with examples), and make it clear how you would apply these to the new role.

5. Education:

Your educational experience and achievements should be listed here, along with dates, the type of qualification and/or the grade you achieved – although the specific parts of education that you include in your CV will depend on your individual situation. For example, if you have more educational achievements than work experience, placing an emphasis on this section is a good idea.

6. Hobbies and interests:

You don’t always need to include hobbies and interests in your CV, but mentioning relevant ones could back up your skills and help you to stand out from the crowd – not to mention give you something to talk about at an interview. Just don’t say you enjoy socialising with friends just for the sake of including something. If it’s not going to add value, leave it out.

Any extra information, such as reasons for a career change or reasons for gaps in career history should also be included as required.

What is a CV?

Free CV template

CV examples and samples

What words should I include in my CV?

Figuring out what words to use on your CV can be tough – especially when you’re trying to fit a lot of skills and experience into a short document.

Appropriate keywords for your CV could include:

  • Accurate
  • Adaptable
  • Confident
  • Hard-working
  • Innovative
  • Pro-active
  • Reliable
  • Responsible

In addition to using the right words, you should also back up your attributes up with genuine accomplishments. Not only will you stand out from others with identical skills, you’ll also be able to prove your suitability more effectively.

After all, anyone can say they’re hard-working – but not everyone can prove it.

What words should I use on my CV?

What should I leave out?

When it comes to your CV, there are certain words and phrases you should try to avoid – and they mostly consist of overused clichés.

Not only could using them risk mildly irritating the person in charge of hiring, you could also end up blending into a sea of similar candidates.

Although all recruiters will have their own pet peeves, here are just a few of the worst CV words:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Goal driven
  • Flexible
  • Motivated
  • Multi-tasker
  • Independent
  • Detail oriented
  • Self-motivated

Obviously, exceptions can be made if any of the above were included in the job description as an essential skill – but using examples to back them up is still crucial.

Five lines that are killing your CV

What not to do on your CV

How should I present my CV?

Your CV is the first thing an employer will see when hiring for a vacancy, and how it looks at first glance will be the reason they decide to read it in more detail. Even if your skills match the role perfectly, a messy and confusing CV probably won’t even get a second look.

To ensure you’re painting yourself (and your skills) in the best light, you should always:

  • Keep it short and succinct – two sides of A4 will almost always suffice.
  • Choose a clear, professional font to ensure that your CV can be easily read (leave Comic Sans and Word Art back in the 1990s where they belong)
  • Lay it out in a logical order, with sufficient spacing and clear section headings (e.g. Work experience, Education)
  • Order your experience and education in reverse chronological order to highlight your most recent experience and achievements
  • Check your grammar and spelling thoroughly

CV layout dos and don’ts

Common grammar mistakes to avoid on your CV

Final thoughts

Once you’ve put together your CV – don’t assume it’s finished.

Every job is different and tailoring your CV accordingly is vital to standing out. Edit it in line with the job description whenever you make an application, and you’ll be able to ensure it matches the specifications every time.

Highlight that you’re the right match for the job by outlining:

  • The specific skills you have to offer the employer
  • Relevant accomplishments and achievements
  • The work and educational experience you have in their field
  • Personal qualities that will make you right for the role
  • An understanding of the job requirements

Free CV review

Need more CV advice?

It takes an employer just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV. This means creating a succinct CV is absolutely vital if you want to land that all-important interview.

To find out how to make your CV stand out from the crowd, buy James Reed’s new book: The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview.

Read more

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How to: Write a CV | reed.co.uk (2024)

FAQs

Is a CV the same as a resume? ›

Unlike a resume, which concentrates on communicating your most relevant work experience and education history, a CV is longer, more detailed and can include more personal information relevant to academic and research positions, according to HR Digest.

What is a simple CV format? ›

You are required to include the following sections as per the best CV format: Contact information: Include your full name, address, phone number and email address. CV objective or personal statement: A personal statement in a CV is a brief summary that highlights your skills, experiences and career goals.

What does a CV look like? ›

Your CV should include a section for your contact details, an introduction, your education history, your work history and references.

What is the correct CV format? ›

Reverse Chronological vs. Functional

Usually, we recommend sticking to the reverse-chronological CV format. It's the most popular format worldwide, so it's what hiring managers expect to see. The reverse-chronological format has a standard structure that includes all the main CV sections, such as: Contact Information.

Do employers prefer CV or resume? ›

When applying for most jobs in the U.S., a resume works best. You simply want to give the potential employer a reason to interview you. Applying for positions in the academic, research, scientific, and medical fields may require a CV rather than a resume.

How long should a CV be? ›

Two Pages. A successful CV typically falls within one to two pages. While no strict rules dictate the CV's length, brevity is crucial given recruiters' time constraints. Opt for a one-page format for a quick snapshot, especially if a job listing specifies.

What is the 7 second rule for CV? ›

It takes an employer just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant's CV. In this book, James Reed – chairman of REED, Britain's largest recruitment company – offers invaluable and specific advice on what employers want to see in the CVs they receive and how you can stand out from the crowd.

What is 5 rules for professional CV writing? ›

How do I write a good CV?
  • Use active verbs when possible. ...
  • A good CV doesn't have any spelling or grammar mistakes. ...
  • Avoid generic, over-used phrases such as 'team player', 'hardworking' and 'multitasker'. ...
  • Tailor your CV. ...
  • Create the right type of CV for your circ*mstances. ...
  • Make sure your email address sounds professional.

What are the first sentences of a CV? ›

A personal statement should be 3-5 concise sentences. Introduce yourself, your achievements, and your career goals. A personal statement often includes an objective. Recruiters should have a good idea of your value in the industry and potential as an employee after reading your summary.

How to write CV for beginners? ›

How to write a CV: A beginner's guide for career starters
  1. Lead with your education. ...
  2. Include internships and volunteer roles. ...
  3. Keep it concise. ...
  4. Customize your CV for each job application. ...
  5. Use bullet points and clean design elements. ...
  6. Action verbs to demonstrate results. ...
  7. Talk about your results. ...
  8. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

How to write CV examples? ›

For example, names like “career history” or “expertise” should be “work experience” and "skills", respectively. It also makes it easier for the hiring manager to find what they're looking for when reading your CV. Only include important keywords from the job ad, not all of them.

Which template is best for a CV? ›

If the company or job you're interested in is more flexible and up to date with the latest trends, you might want to consider using a creative or modern CV professional template. But if you're looking at a more senior role in a more traditional organization, a professional, simple or basic style might suit you better.

How do I write my first CV example? ›

How do I write my first CV example:
  1. Contact Information: Include your full name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile (if applicable).
  2. Objective or Personal Statement (Optional): ...
  3. Education: ...
  4. Relevant Skills: ...
  5. Work Experience: ...
  6. Internships or Volunteer Experience: ...
  7. Projects: ...
  8. Extracurricular Activities:
Dec 11, 2023

How do you start a personal CV? ›

How to create a CV personal statement
  1. State who you are. Start with a statement detailing where you are in your career. ...
  2. Communicate your value. The second part of your statement should communicate your suitability for the position and your value to the organization. ...
  3. State your career objectives.
Jun 30, 2023

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