CVs work best if they are tailored to specific jobs or types of work. Before you start writing a CV, think about the type of work you are targeting and which information about your skills and experience those employers are likely to be most interested in. That will help you make an informed choice about how to write your CV and what information you need to highlight.
Make a recruiter’s job easier by identifying what they are looking for and then making those things easy to find on your CV. Remember: an employer won’t read between the lines, so make sure you spell out why you are suited for the role.Below, you’ll find some tips for tailoring different sections within your CV:
Pick out key modules or key topics that relate to the job. A module names mean something to you, but they might not mean anything to an employer so it can work well to add some brief explanatory text.
Dissertation – sometimes the employer will be most interested in the topic, sometimes the method or skills used to undertake the research. Keep your description brief and focussed on what you believe they will find most interesting.
Use your description of your experiences (employment or voluntary) to showcase the skills and attributes the employer is looking for. Even pieces of experience which may not be directly relevant are useful for showcasing relevant skills.
If you have relevant experience (within the same industry/type of work) you could showcase this by creating a separate section e.g. “Relevant Experience” “Marketing Experience” which could be placed on the first page. “Additional Experience” could be placed afterwards to explain the other work you have done.
A Skills section can be helpful to showcase the skills the employer is looking for. Avoid sections with general skills that you assume they’ll be interested in. Instead use some of the language that they have used in the job advert / person spec.
Provide evidence for each of the skills you have mentioned. If you’ve already provided evidence for these skills in other sections, you could shorten this section to “Additional Skills” relating to ones that you haven’t yet discussed.
This section doesn’t need to be tailored to the job as it is used to show you as an individual, but you can use it to continue to showcase the relevant skills the employer has asked for.
Many employers tell us that they spend no more than 10 seconds on an initial scan of a CV. If you pass that scan test, they will read your CV, but if you don’t, there’s a chance they may never look at it again. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential employer, thinking about the key things they are looking for, then skim read your CV (in 10 seconds) to get an overall impression and see what information jumps out. Better yet – ask a fried to do this scan test for you.
The first page of your CV is your opportunity to make a good first impression and grab the reader’s attention during their 10 second scan. Order your sections according to what you think will be most relevant to the reader and use that first page wisely. Make sure you have followed the formatting tips above.
Long paragraphs can be off-putting on a CV. Present your information concisely in short paragraphs or bullet points. Be brutal in editing to remove any unnecessary words. There is no need for “Furthermore”, “Moreover”, “However”.
As a bullet-point style is often expected on a CV, you don’t need to write in proper sentences and can remove personal pronouns e.g. “I worked in a team to…” could be re-written as “Worked in a team to…”.
Starting your sentences with action verbs e.g. Planned, Developed, Delivered, can add energy to your CV.
When describing your work/employment/voluntary experience, unless the job role is something you believe the reader will never have encountered before, you don’t need to provide a list of duties e.g. the reader is likely to already know the duties of a Sales Assistant. Focus instead on telling them things they might not know about what you achieved during that work e.g. “Trained new members of staff; exceeded sales targets”.
If your role does require explanation, keep the list of duties brief, before going on to describe your achievements. Providing context helps the reader e.g. “Presented at a large conference” could be more compelling if written as “Presented at a conference of 500 international delegates” or “Worked with groups of children” with context could be written as “Worked with children aged 5-10 in small groups of 4/5”.
Make sure the details are correct – spelling and grammar, professional-looking email address, dates –with any gaps in dates explained. Once you’ve gone through all of the steps above, do another 10 second scan and read it again thoroughly to make sure that it is effectively tailored to the type of work.