Writing the perfect CV

Introduction

Writing a professional CV is your first step towards securing a new job. It is the first impression a potential new employer will have of showing how important it is to get it right. Job hunting is a very competitive process, often because of the number of candidates in the job market, and it is your CV that can put you ahead of other candidates and secure you an interview. The key to a successful CV is to present your skills and experience in the best light possible. Your CV should therefore be viewed as a selling tool rather than just a summary of your working history.

Follow our simple guide to writing your CV to ensure you capitalise on your most valuable asset.

The basics

According to research employers spend an average of 30 seconds screening a CV - highlighting the importance of demonstrating your suitability for the role from the outset. Before writing your CV it is therefore essential that you have clear career objectives and can communicate where you are now and where you want to be.

Your personal profile and the language used throughout your CV should be in line with the direction you want to go and reflect your career goals. You need to be clear about your core experience and qualifications and what your personal strengths and weaknesses are. By emphasising your strongest skills and experiences you will be able to demonstrate how you would fit the role and position yourself correctly for your next career move. Your CV is also an opportunity to communicate your personal traits, for example by demonstrating a positive attitude to all of your previous roles and highlighting your ambition and willingness to learn new skills.

Tailoring your CV

Your CV isn't just a short-term investment - you need to know what your next role needs to be to meet your long-term career goals and tailor your CV to fit this profile accordingly. Always remain focused on what you want to achieve in the long-term and strengthen your CV wherever possible to help you reach this goal.

It is important to customise your CV for each role you apply for. For example, if a role requires you to have worked across international teams make sure you pull out and highlight your relevant skills and international experience. The key is to emphasise the areas where you fit the job profile, making it easy for the recruiter to draw out quickly why they should invite you to an interview. During the shortlisting process many recruiters will screen CVs for 'must have' qualities. If these aren't included in your CV, you won't even make it past the shortlisting process, so make sure your CV covers all of the key requirements in the job description or shows the recruiter you are willing to develop relevant skills.

Selling your skills

Remember to sell yourself through your key achievements and successes, rather than simply listing your responsibilities. By demonstrating how you can add value to the department and wider company you will gain the attention of a potential employer. Similarly, talk about what you were personally responsible for rather thantalking broadly about what your team may have delivered.

Formatting your CV

Ideally your CV should fit on two A4 pages - this means you will need to be succinct and selective with the information you include. There are different ways you can format this information including chronologically or by skills and attributes, these formats are outlined on the following page.

Whichever format you choose it is essential that your CV is easy to read. Use clear headings to break up the content and ensure your personal details can easily be found at the top of your CV. Use a clear universal font such as Arial and avoid going smaller than 10pt.