How to write a CV in 7 simple steps (with templates and writing tips)

By Harriet Piercy

Published Nov 23, 2020 at 10:32 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

The first thing your future employers see is probably one of the most important things. Many big companies don’t really have the time to sift through hundreds of CVs, which means they will automatically be drawn to the ones that tick all the boxes. One thing to think about before we start off is that your CV doesn’t necessarily have to be a statement piece. For example, a luminous yellow background colour or a CV the size of a wall, just to stand out, are usually very bad ideas. Employers are looking to find one essential information on your CV: whether you have the skills they need or not. Keep that in mind at all times. Then prove it.

Even if you are only applying for a short-term job, every door leads on to something else, so stay alert and when you get the job (which you will) do what it actually says on your CV. Now, CVs are never a one size fits all answer, which is why they can be so tricky, but here are the 7 things that will make or break your CV.

1. Your personal details

Yes, some people do forget to add this very simple information. What is your name? What is your email address, or, how do you want the employer to contact you? Do you have a website? You don’t need to make a header for your document that says ‘Curriculum Vitae’, it should be obvious enough what it is.

2. Have a short paragraph underneath your personal information

Write a few lines to introduce yourself. You can go into more detail if they ask you to come in, but who is behind your name, and why are you sending them a CV in the first place?

3. Work experience

What have you done in the past that made you arrive on their job application list? Even if they don’t have one of those, and you’re just enquiring for more experience, make sure that your work experience is relevant to the company you’re sending your CV to. Remember that everyone started somewhere, you don’t need to have a long list of things that you’ve done, and they don’t want a list of irrelevant experience contrasted to the job role you’re applying to either.

If you really don’t have any experience along the lines of what they want, then tailor what you have done to what they want instead. For example, you were a waitress for two years, and now you want to be a wedding planner. What did you learn while being a waitress that ties into being a wedding planner? Keep it short and feel free to format it as a listicle.

4. Education

This is along the lines of work experience too but if you do have a degree then put that on there. This will show potential employers that you have the right language skills they need and the right skill sets in general.

5. Hobbies and interests

This is what makes it personal, what makes you, you? Format this as a listicle too, and highlight your top interests. We’ve all heard the saying ‘Do what you love and it won’t feel like work’. Well, this really is true. Your hobbies are what keeps you going. Even if it’s nothing to do with the job you’re applying for, it shows you have depth and will be interesting to have around the workplace.

6. Keep your CV to one page

Keep it short and sweet. Answer the question we asked you to remember at the top and filter out your good bits, without filling it up with ‘fluff’ either.

7. How to design your CV

Finally, the design—once you’ve checked off all the information that you need on there, arrange it all in a way that is simple and easy to read. Remember it will be looked over quite quickly, and you don’t want all your efforts to go to waste by a potential employer pushing it to the side simply because it’s confusing. Save the wow factor for your portfolio, or website, if you have one. The details of the CV should be listed in order of importance. Keep in mind that simple always works best. In order to make your life easier, we created a lovely CV template that you can edit with your own information from here.

If you have this as the scaffolding to your CV building, then you should be good to go. Good luck, you’ve got this!

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