28 July 2014
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How to write a CV

For success in any job application it is vital that you capture the employers attention quickly and decisively. For this to happen your curriculum vitae must be eye catching, unique and relevant to the job you are applying for. A curriculum vitae is one of the most valuable assets when job hunting and a good CV is your passport to being invited to a interview.

Remember that every employer is looking for the best and most suitable candidate. For each vacancy they advertise they can receive hundreds of applications, all from good candidates. The sixty four thousand dollar question for any suitable job seeker is how do you stand out from all the other equally acceptable applicants?

Tips on how to write a CV
A good CV is a essential part of your toolkit when looking for a job. It gives companies the first glimpse of you as a potential employee and helps them to decide if you are worth interviewing. Make your curriculum vitae a masterpiece by writing one that markets you rather than just describing your career history and academic qualifications.

Concentrate on what the employer wants, not what you want
This is a fundamental issue to address. Start off by asking yourself the following questions:

What would the perfect candidate be like?
What experience and abilities is the employer looking for in a candidate?

Get the answers to the above two questions by reading the job advert, searching online for the vacancies job description or even calling up the recruiter and asking for a more information on the jobs daily duties.

Plan and prioritise information
After assessing what the employer is looking for, start to note down your key skill sets, experiences and qualities that match their requirements. Then arrange and rank this information in order of importance and relevancy. Finally plan your CV so the most valuable and significant data is at the top or in prominent places.

Self-assessment
Carry out a thorough analysis of your skills, work experience and abilities. Following this ask yourself if they match the job requirements. If they do then start planning to write a CV that matches the vacancy specifications as closely as possible. This can also help you conclude whether you are under qualified or even overqualified.

Research
Learn about the company you are applying to and also the job role. Discover if they have been in the news recently or have launched a new product etc. If they have then impress them by mentioning it fleetingly in your career statement or covering letter.
 
Your target audience
Always consider your CV from the employers perspective. Imagine being a hiring manager who has to read through 100 CVs in the course of a day. How can you grab their attention and stand out from other competing hopefuls.

Also remember that your target audience (the hiring manager or company staff) will be made up of professionals in their fields. You need to connect with them by producing a CV that appeals directly to them. 
Write in a direct and straightforward manner
Impress the reader with your writing style.
 
Consistency
Make sure that your CV is accurate and that all employment dates and information match and compliment each other.

Length of your CV
It should be not longer than two pages.

Length of sentences
Make every one count and keep these short, brief and to the point. Concentrate on writing coherent sentences that are easy to read, meaningful and relevant to the job you are applying for.

Visit our CV examples page to view professionally written templates that you can use as guides to build your own interview winning resume.

How to write a career statement for a CV
Personal profiles as they are also known go at the top of a CV or in a prominent position on the first page. As they are likely to be one of the first things a recruiter will see they should be thoughtfully written, concise and quickly point out your key relevant skills.

They can be difficult to write because you only have a small amount of space to convey your message and impress the reader. It need to be written in a way so that it: 

  • Can be read quickly.
  • Gets a employer interested in you.
  • Encourages them to read the rest of your CV.

A career statement helps to personalize your job application by introducing you to a prospective employer. They should be brief and impressive, typically no more than two paragraphs long. They should be seen as opportunities to firstly impress a recruiter with your communicating skills and secondly capture their attention by convincingly summarizing your goals, values and in a nutshell explaining why you feel you are suitable for the job.

Other names for ‘career statements’
They can also known as a ‘statement of purpose’, ‘personal statement’, or "letter of intent".

When not to write a career statement
If you attach a covering letter with your CV then you can get away with not including a career statement. Both of these share the same purpose in that they will convey your interest in a particular position or company and highlight your relevant skills, accomplishments and abilities.

Remember not to make it a carbon copy of your resume, meaning do not go over points you have already mentioned in your main CV body.

What is the purpose of a career statement
The main aims of a career objective is to explain your core aspirations to a possible recruiter and also show them how you can strengthen any company you work for.
 
What to include in a career statement
For them to be memorable personal mission statements do not need to be lengthy essays. Instead they should be no more than two brief punchy paragraphs that immediately convey to a recruiter your ambitions, what you can bring to a new employer and how you can improve their performance.

Below are some key areas to cover:

  • Try to address the needs of the recruiter.
  • Highlight your successes, accomplishments and any significant contributions you have made at previous companies you have worked for.
  • Show off your knowledge of the industry and job role.

The various stages of writing a career statement:

Stage 1
Introduce yourself by explaining who you are and what you want.

Stage 2
Make clear why you are submitting the application.

Stage 3
State why you are applying for a particular position. Give reasons why you feel you are a ‘good fit’ and describe how your skills and abilities match the job requirements.

How to write about your areas of expertise for a CV
In this section of your resume concentrate on those fields that you are proficient in or have specialist knowledge of and that are directly related to the vacancy you are applying for. If you have expertise in a certain area or excel at a particular task then give it maximum exposure, especially if it is relative to the job you are applying for. 

Ideally you should have one keyword or a short phrase of no more than three words to describe each of your competencies. To place more emphasis on them use bullet points to list them. As always in a tailored CV try to make your areas of expertise as relevant as possible to the job you are applying for. List no more that 12  keywords in total.

Below is a example of how a bulleted table should look like:


Relevancy
Write your CV to fit and match the requirements of the employer. By keeping your resume consistently relevant, related and focused on the job you are applying for, you can attract and just as importantly retain the readers attention. Employers will typically scan a CV looking for industry keywords or any relevant work experience. If you can quickly highlight any of these points to them then you stand a good chance of connecting with them and being noticed.
 
A good tip is to keep a copy of the job advert in front of you whilst you are actually sat down and in the process of writing your CV. This can continuously remind you of who you are writing the CV for and you can also use it as a reference point to ensure that you do not go off track. Tailor your application so that it matches the job application as much as possible.

The main downside of writing targeted and relevant CVs is that you have to write a new one for every job you apply for. This may be time consuming and demanding, but studies have continuously shown that targeted curriculum vitae’s have considerably more success than the same one that is sent out to every job.
 
Use a eye catching layout
Have a design that is simple, neat, orderly and easy to read. Well presented CVs can influence the decision of a hiring manager just as much as the content in it. There are no golden rules to creating a effective CV, but a carefully laid out one can demonstrate professionalism and ability on the part of a candidate.

Be conservative with the layout of your CV, never use unusual fonts, colored paper, bright colors, weird layouts or include a photo of yourself. It can make you appear as a extrovert and someone who does not take their work seriously.

CV headings
Use appropriate section headings to make it more readable and easier for the recruiter to navigate and find the information they are looking for. Just as important is to  make sure that each section is in the right position, so that it compliments what comes before and after it. For instance the top or beginning of your resume is the most prominent  location in it and the first place anyone will see. Therefore you should have your most valuable material (i.e. areas of expertise or relevant work experience) there and not say your hobbies or reference section.
 
Shout about your strongest points!
Don’t be shy highlighting your past and present achievements and loyalty. Be positive and focus not only on emphasising those skills and experiences that are related to the job you are applying for and also to your industry.

If you are going to spend valuable time writing a CV then make sure it’s a good one.

Read the job advert and list what the employer is looking for
Carefully go through a job advert and find out as much about the role before you start your CV design. Make a list of the skill sets, experience and qualifications that a recruiter is looking for. This is valuable information that you can use to write a targeted CV that will fit the job description.

If the job advert does not give much information about the role then do some research yourself. Call the company up and speak to the HR department and ask for details. Or research the industry and find similar roles and then note down their duties and responsibilities. By analyzing this list you should have a good idea of what the employers is looking for. All you have to do now is tailor you resume in a professional manner whilst at the same time skillfully matching your skills and abilities to the recruiters needs.

Being positive
Do not mention negative experiences, demonstrate a positive attitude by focusing on your successful achievements like promotions etc. Give details of your:

  • Industry qualifications
  • Relevant training
  • Management skills
  • Membership of professional bodies
  • Current market knowledge
  • Relevant work experience

Don't exaggerate
Do not go over the top and exaggerate your abilities, this can backfire on you and turn off employers. Also never lie in your CV, you can very easily be found out.

What not to put in your CV
There is no need to mention any of the following:

  • Your health.
  • Religious beliefs.
  • Sexuality.
  • Marital status.
  • Criticise previous employers.
  • Explain why you left your previous employment.

How to write a career statement
This is a brief paragraph that goes at the top of your CV. It is one of the first things the recruiter will see. It needs to be brief and impressive. List your goals and values as well as a few sentences explaining why you feel you are suitable for the job. Include industry keywords and also try to mention relevant news about the recruiting company.

How to write about your academic qualifications
There is no need to list every academic qualification you have achieved or training course you have completed. Only mention those that are relevant to the vacancy and that are impressive.

The main sections that should be included in a CV are:
Personal profile / career objective
Areas of expertise
Career objective
Academic qualifications
References

Include keywords related to the job or your industry
Nowadays most major recruiters will scan any CVs they receive and store them electronically on computer databases. They then use software to search these databases to find candidates who match their requirements. Typically they will search then using keywords or phrases.  


How to write your contact details

  • Always include your mobile number, just in case you move address and loose any landline numbers you have given.
  • When applying for international or overseas jobs remember to include your countries international dialing code.


How to write about your career achievements and accomplishments

How to write your areas of expertise

How to write about your references

How NOT to write a CV

Video CVs – have brief info and a link to a page about these.


General tips when writing your CV

  • Keep it current and up to date.
  • Make it as presentable and professional as possible.


Related topics:

How to write a cover letter

CV power words

What employers look for in a CV

What not to put in your CV

Why CVs are rejected

Writing a CV


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User Comments

MESOH said:
07/08/2013 l have been given an assignment to write a cv by my lacturer at my university,so what type of cv can l write help since there are many tamplates to choose from
carollee said:
10/09/2012 i need to do a cv to send by e mail could you please help me has i have not done one be fore and not very good on computers.n
Lisa Castle said:
17/07/2012 I have found your website extremely helpful and wanted to just mention that at the bottom of the page "How to write a CV" the sections below are not completed. This may be an oversight: How to write about your career achievements and accomplishments; How to write your areas of expertise; How to write about your references; How NOT to write a CV; Video CVs – have brief info and a link to a page about these. Many thanks.
mahbub alam said:
09/05/2012 i want to make my cv.please can you help me
kuphumla zweni said:
15/02/2012 i want to write a cv

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