Jackie Balchin from TARGETjobs has written a guest blog for Studentrecipes.com on top tips for CV writing. Follow this simple recipe for CV success in your career search.
- One Word document
- A target graduate job
- A handful of carefully selected key skills
- A selection of work experience
- Advice from TARGETjobs and your university careers service
- Snacks and coffee to fuel the brain throughout the process
You can write a first draft of a CV in an afternoon. However, if you want to seek feedback from your careers service and give yourself time to reflect on what you have included, you should aim to allow yourself a week.
One relevant and targeted CV
Open a new Word document. With your target job in mind the first thing to do is focus your message. Read the job advert carefully, research the employer and the industry, and pull out the key skills and experience the employer seeks. Use this to identify the information you need to supply in your CV that will match the employer’s requirements.
TIP : Keep an up-to-date list of all your skills and work experience – this will provide the raw material you need for your CV.
Stand out from the crowd by using your extracurricular activities to show evidence of work experience and skills developed.
First impressions count – a lot. Your CV has 30 seconds to make an impact. Recruiters will spend between 30 seconds and a minute scanning your CV, according to the ‘30 second rule’.
When putting your CV together, ask yourself: is it easy to read, and is the formatting consistent?
Structure your CV in a logical order. This means, for example: personal details, followed by education and work experience in chronological order and finally your interests. Be consistent with headings, fonts etc.
Check if the employer has given any guidance – if they’ve asked for a one-page CV, stick to one page. Don’t include a photo. This is not standard practice in the UK. However, check if this is a requirement in other countries.
TIP : Attention to detail is key: make sure you have a suitable email address.
The maximum length for a graduate CV is two pages of A4. Save space by not including what you don’t need – for example you don’t need to include words ‘Curriculum Vitae’ or your age, or date of birth.
After putting together your first draft, save your CV and take a break.
Once you think your CV is finished, make sure you check over for:
- Spelling errors
- Does it make sense?
- Is it targeted to the job and employer?
- Does it meet the employer’s minimum requirements?
TIP : Try and get feedback from others. Be prepared to take on board constructive criticism and seek advice from your careers service - many offer sessions on CV writing.
Always keep a copy of the version of your CV you send off to the employer – you could be asked about it in the interview.
Need further advice? Download our sample CV templates to get you started.