Looking to create the perfect CV? Here are some tips on how to create a professional looking CV that will really impress potential employers.
1. Your heading
Start off your CV with fairly large, centred writing, stating your full name, address and contact details.
Make sure you include your phone number AND email address, as an employer isn’t going to go to much effort to get in touch with you if the wrong number has accidentally been put on, or if their emails are being returned as undeliverable.
Date of birth? It’s up to you. If you think your age will benefit you in some way for the particular role, then put it, but it’s not compulsory, and unfortunately, many employers will favour an older, more experienced candidate; your date of birth may produce unnecessary prejudice against you.
2. A small introductory sentence below the heading
Add a bit of personality to your heading, a little information that you think will make you appealing. For example, stating you are a Psychology graduate with experience in administration roles and proven analytical and organisational skills.
The top third/half of your CV will look like this:
If you feel that your work experience is more relevant to the role you are applying for than your education, then put that first and put your education second. It’s up to you which order those go in, as long as the content of each one is in chronological order.
State the full name of your degree, as well as your grade and exactly where you got it from and when. DO NOT LEAVE IT AT THAT!
You did not go to university just so you can write that one qualification; you gained three years of development and learning. All of the things you did at university (academically, NOT socially – nobody needs to know about that!) have taught you vital lessons that are essential and incredibly helpful in the work place.
The original concept behind getting a university degree was that it would be seen by an employer that the lessons learnt in those three years were equivalent to work experience! Think about the things you did:
Essay writing – develops your organisational skills, preparation, working to a deadline, focus, English Language skills, presenting an argument, and more!
Exam revision – similarly develops organisation skills, preparation, working to a deadline, working under pressure, the ability to retain lots of information, your ability to be faced with a challenge and work through it quickly and efficiently.
Presentations – Develops your confidence speaking publicly, presenting an argument, being authoritative, explaining to others.
Group Discussions – Presenting an argument, winning an argument, speaking publicly, cooperating and communicating with others effectively in an attempt to reach a shared goal.
Personal tutor – Working on a one-to-one basis is a good skill as it is something you may have to do in many potential jobs.
Different Classes – Working in groups again is a great thing to have experience in because a lot of the time your work will be within a group, and it’s always important that you will fit in with the group and be able to work well with them.
Independent Study/Dissertation – Shows dedication and focus, working independently, showing initiative, researching, working to a deadline and organisation.
If you think it’s necessary, talk about specific modules that you feel really developed you and the way that you work in a positive way.
If you did not go to university, then the above certainly still apply for your college work; write about the different types of coursework you did and how you had to meet various deadlines and work under pressure. But before doing this, write your exact subjects, grades, where you achieved them and when.
Finally, identify the school you attended, when you attended, how many GCSEs you took and the grade range. For example: 9 GCSEs A-C
4. DON’T worry about writing too much.
An employer isn’t going to look at your CV and think, ‘oh god, this person has written so much – they must be dull.’
It looks passionate and as if you really have taken on board the things you have learnt and it shows that you take care over how something you write looks, and you care about how you are received by others. Employers will appreciate this!
So far the education section of your CV will look like this:
Depending on the job you’re applying for, you want to highlight the skills that will be most appealing to the employer. Read through the job advertisement, what the requirements are and qualities of the desired candidate. Show that you have those qualities and prove it by explaining situations in your previous employment where you have used those skills to your advantage.
If you’re not looking for any specific role, then employers are always going to be looking for the following:
They want someone who can work in a team and bonds well with others. They want someone who has experience in reaching a shared goal, and through co-operation and teamwork has achieved that goal. It doesn’t matter where you did this, whether it was in a similar office setting, in a bar, a restaurant, or in a shop. If you have worked in a team, then it’s relevant.
Give examples! What was your goal and how did you co-operate with people around you to reach the goal? What was your role?
Often you will have to speak with customers/clients/business associates via telephone, email, or even via presentations. Give examples of when you have done this and how you ensured that the conversations always went smoothly. Prove that you have the confidence to communicate with people daily in a professional and polite manner, always expressing clarity in your ideas and opinions. Have you ever worked in a cafe or a bar? The fact that you have interacted with customers on a daily basis strengthens your ability to communicate and this will help you in an office environment. Have you ever received praise for the way you have communicated? Write it down.
As well as working in a team, being an independent worker that shows initiative is essential to an employer. Talk about any difficult situations you have had in previous employment and state how you used your initiative to overcome the problem and end up with a positive result. Have you ever made suggestions for changes in your working environment, in an attempt to improve the business for yourself, your employees and your employer? This will always be impressive and is exactly what the ideal candidate would do.
Have you ever been given your own project at work that you had to take responsibility for and plan from start to finish? No matter how small, write it down! This is an ideal quality and makes employers think you will be able to progress and create improvements within the company.
By this I mean being able and willing to try out new tasks, take on extra roles, accept changes in the work you do. Give examples of when you have had to do this in the past. You want to appear ambitious and eager to learn more, but not only that, do the extra work that it takes to learn more and gain responsibility.
This is almost always a feature of job advertisements. Give examples of times when you have had a lot of work to get through and a deadline; how did you organise your work load? How did you make sure you were organised throughout and completed the necessary tasks in time for your deadline? An employer wants to be able to rely on you to deliver what is required and in an efficient manner. Express that the quality of your work remains excellent even while working under pressure.
Anything else you think is relevant or you believe has helped you, write it down. For each previous job write the dates, your job title, the employer and the location. Like this:
July 2013 – November 2013, Case handler, O’Neill Patient Solicitors, Hazel Grove
Then below write as much as you can about the role. This section will look something like this:
6. Additional qualifications/certificates
If you have achieved any other qualifications that you think are relevant, then list them here. An example may be a clean driving license, DBS or TEFL certificate (Although, be careful with TEFL because a desire to go and teach in a different country may make you appear unreliable). State the awarding body, the date you received it, the mark you achieved (if relevant), and any skills that you developed in achieving this qualification.
7. Additional interests
It is essential that you include this. Only including the above will probably put you in the running for the job, along with 5, 6, maybe even 10 or 20 other applicants who have the same level of education and work experience as you do. This is your section to STAND OUT FROM THE REST.
Show that you are different from the others, show that you are human like everyone else and enjoy hobbies and socialising; show that you have personality, and that you are an individual.
Things to mention may be: sports teams/achievements, political work, charity work, social events you like to attend, musical instruments, art, singing, acting, being a member of a society.
What are your hobbies? What do you like to do at the weekend? Are you computer literate? If so, which programmes do you use? Do you have a blog? Do you like to write? Do you like to travel?
All of these are important qualities that help you to stand out and will make you appear likable and your employer may be able to relate to the things you do. If you don’t have anything to write here, then FIND SOMETHING. Join a society, visit the theatre, write a short story. Everything you try will develop you as a person and will shape your personality; not only for improving your CV but for improving your social life and experiences. It will all be worth it!
Here is my additional interests section:
Employers will always require 2 references. The chances of them actually getting in touch with them is probably quite low but even so, you need to put your references’ details in:
Title (e.g Manager of Auto Heritage/Lecturer at Newcastle University)
Relationship to you (e.g. Previous employer/previous personal tutor)
Contact address (i.e. their place of work)
If you would rather not put your references on your CV, then that’s okay; but be sure to put at the bottom of your CV:
‘References available upon request.’
If you don’t have a previous employer, then get in touch with a previous tutor or teacher; and if you did some work experience, the person that you reported to will be able to give a reference for you.
BE AWARE: most companies regulate their references so that all they will offer is a start and finish date. If that’s the case, then maybe instead of putting two previous employers as your references, choose a previous tutor or teacher for your second reference who will be able to give you a character reference.
9. READ IT THROUGH!
Go through and check your CV for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or just sloppy writing. This is the LAST thing an employer wants to see, especially if the role you’re applying for requires you to use your writing skills! If you are too exasperated with it all, which you probably will be, then get a friend or a parent to check through it for you.
That’s it! While it is long and tedious, hopefully adding all of these sections and skills to your CV will make it look really professional and thought out, and will really help you stand out from the crowd. Hope it helps!