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The Secret to Writing a Successful CV? Get the Basics Right

A CV is much more than a professional document; it is a record of your key achievements and career milestones, and it could start a life changing journey.

Every jobseeker, no matter how experienced, needs to make a great first impression with their CV. These days it’s likely that you’ll be competing for a job opportunity with a considerable number of qualified applicants, so it’s important that you make the best possible first impression.

For those of you who want to create a successful CV to secure your first (or next) job, I’ve put together the 6 steps to creating a great CV.

1.Win them at First Glance with an Attention-Grabbing Personal Statement

  It’s crucial to get this section right as this opening paragraph can decide whether or not a recruiter or a hiring manager continues reading, so you want to grab their attention.

This is your golden opportunity to sell yourself and answer the basic questions a hiring manager will want to know: Who are you? What can you bring to the role? And what are your career goals? Just remember to keep it short and sweet!

2. Write an Achievement-Focused Employment History

Many people make the mistake of summarizing the job description of each position in this section, which frankly results in a truly yawn-worthy CV.

To successfully sell yourself and keep the reader engaged, only write a few bullet points to outline your key achievements and the skills you developed during your time there.

Tell me what you did beyond the requirements on your job spec. Where did you add value? Where did you demonstrate initiative, leadership and/or vision?

If you’re in a technical job, this is the best time to talk about the recent projects you have worked on and the skills you have gained.

What if I’ve have over 15 jobs on my CV?

A contractor who has 30 years of employment may have 30 jobs on their CV which could end up being 15-20 pages long. Let’s be honest, who would be willing to read that many pages?

3. Include Education & Qualifications

This should be from GCSE/O Level onwards, stating the amount of qualifications gained and grades achieved. Simple.

4. Include the Hobbies/Interests that Reflects Your Desired Personal Brand

An interesting one for me - I see some a variety of comments here which raise eyebrows! I think it is best to keep this simple, highlighting the things that show off the skills you’ve gained that employers will look for. Indicate examples of when you’ve had positions of responsibility, working in a team or entrepreneurialism.

5. Include ‘References on request’

At the end of your CV write: ‘References on request’. This shows confidence to the employer that you’re happy for them to contact your previous managers/HR for a positive reference.

6. If you’re applying directly, tailor the CV to the role

After you’ve created a strong template, you should figure out what the job entails and how you can match each requirement so you can create a CV specifically for that role.

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