CV Tips and Best Practices

Writing a strong professional CV is really important as it is your real opportunity to demonstrate to a potential employer that you are an excellent candidate for their vacancy.

A hiring manager will decide whether or not to invite you for an interview based on how closely aligned your skills are in relation to the essential requirements for their vacancy, and how well you present and communicate your relevant experience on your CV.  It will be the first impression the organisation receives of you; so, it will serve you to get it right.

Your CV is essentially an extension of yourself as it reflects your career story and highlights the unique tapestry of your skills, personal attributes and work achievements. In the following guide we will share some best practice tips which will support you to get started with creating or updating your CV.

Hiring managers review and shortlist numerous applications for a vacancy andwill often initially scan through your CV and identify the key experience that stands out, before reviewing it in further depth and detail.  This means that your CV needs to be easy to navigate: it needs to quickly and clearly demonstrate that you have the necessary skills and competencies that the reader is looking for, based on the essential criteria for the vacancy.

For the majority of professionals there is a standard approach which is recommended to follow which will evidence your skills, experience and qualifications (if applicable) clearly and thus improve your chances of being selected for an interview for the opportunities that match your experience. There are some exceptions to this standard format and structure which we outline in this guide, for example creative professionals will present their experience quite differently.

As well as looking for relevant skills and experience, employers are looking for solutions. Your application will stand out further by highlighting how you can make a positive impact to their team based on demonstrable positive past performance by listing key achievements from your previous roles.

Your CV and your supporting statement/cover letter will ideally complement each other, with the supporting statement touching on subjects and skills that are then expanded upon in your CV. Always refer to the job description when writing your CV and support statement, so that you are positioning yourself as a direct match for the role.

For more information on writing a strong supporting statement you can review the following guide here: https://longmirerecruitment.co.uk/2019/11/20/writing-a-strong-supporting-statement/

 

Some initial tips for writing a professional CV:

  • Keep your CV brief: 2 pages is ideal, 3 maximum. Whether you are applying for a junior or senior level role, your CV needs to be professional, clear, succinct and reflect business awareness.
  • Tailor your CV: avoid sending generic CV’s to each position. Making slight tweaks to your CV which address your direct experience relative to the essential criteria listed on the job description will increase your chances of securing an interview.
  • Font: make sure your font type size and type are professional and consistent throughout your CV. Use standard formatting.
  • Tense: use a consistent tense throughout your CV.
  • Keep it Simple: clients generally prefer (unless you work in a creative role) simple and easy to read CVs that are full of relevant content, and which showcase your skills and achievements.Steer clear of long paragraphs. A short paragraph backed up by key information on bullet points is easier to read.
  • Achievements: demonstrate key achievements for the recent roles your worked in. Be specific, give exact figures, percentages, outcomes, values and numbers where relevant. It would be ideal if there was a blend of what you achieved through your direct work, and what your team achieved (if applicable) while clarifying your role in that achievement.  If you have written any relevant articles, or have been featured in any publications, you can choose to give specific reference to these here too if they are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Integrity: always be honest, and never exaggerate.
  • Career Gaps: be sure to explain any career gaps. Explain the reason for the career gap in a concise and positive way.
  • Spell Check: it’s easy to make mistakes on your CV so check it for spelling and grammatical errors, or ask a friend to proofread it for you. In a competitive market, this could be the difference between a hiring manager selecting you for an interview or not.

 

CV


CV STRUCTURE:

Choose a clear and professional layout. The following headings are standard titles to plan your layout:

CONTACT DETAILS

Include your name, telephone number and e-mail address. Include the city/area you live in, adding your home address is optional. Ensure your information is accurate and up-to-date.

PERSONAL PROFILE
This is your opportunity to summarize your key skills and highlight what sets you apart. Your personal statement should be carefully tailored to the job description and quickly summarize your experience, skills, personal attributes, and what you are looking for in your next role. Keep it short and engaging. It is recommended that this statement is no more than four or five lines.

WORK HISTORY

List your most recent position first, and then work backwards.  For each role, list your company name, job title and dates of employment. Then include your duties and responsibilities for each role, along with your key achievements,

For example:

(Job Title)
(Organisation)
(Dates of Employment)

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • List your most recent position first and focus on the outcome of your work.
  • Include precise and exact information on your job duties, the size and value of projects you worked on, the key responsibilities.
  • Highlight your personal role, rather than your team’s.
  • In this part write what the details of the project and what the deliverables were (without going into too much confidential business detail).

Key Achievements:

  • Focus on personal achievements, give specific information, outcomes and values where possible (without sharing confidential business information).
  • When referencing team achievements do not generalise, give exact factual information and clearly communicate what part you played in the delivery of the outcome.

Tip: If you have an extensive career history or are a contracting professional, you can follow the structure above for your most recent 3 positions, and then simply list your prior career history, highlighting the details of each organisation name, job title and the dates of your employment.

EDUCATION (if applicable):

  • List your most recent studies first. Include your professional and higher education qualifications, if applicable. These should be listed in chronological order, starting with the most recent. If you are currently studying, you can include this here initially.
  • Also include any relevant vocational training. If this list is extensive, list only the most relevant training to the role you are applying for.

ADDITIONAL SKILLS:

  • List here any IT packages you have used.
  • List any foreign languages you speak, if applicable.
  • List any methodologies you have worked with, for example Agile or Prince 2 methodologies.

HOBBIES AND INTERESTS:

  • This is an optional section to insert but is nice to include as it gives the hiring manager insight into your unique hobbies and personality.

REFERENCES:

  • You don’t need to include reference contact names and information, instead you can indicate that your references are available upon request.

 

While there isn’t a one size fits all approach for your to take when writing your CV, the above guide will give you a clear, professional, structured approach in which to demonstrate your unique career experience, skills and attributes, to increase your chances of being shortlisted for an interview for roles which directly match your expertise.

 

Lynda Morrissey, Senior Recruitment Manager, Longmire Recruitment. 

Lynda specialises in supporting not-for-profit organisations and social purpose businesses to recruit talented professionals across fundraising, digital and HR up to executive level, so that their organisations are resourced and empowered to continue to make important and unique contributions to individuals and communities in our society, and to the living natural world.

For more information about this article contact lynda@longmirerecruitment.co.uk

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