How to write a good CV

24 Nov 2022


Claire Crompton

Claire Crompton

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As charismatic as you may be, a good CV is essential for landing a job. Poorly written CVs will be dismissed by employers immediately, so it’s important that yours ticks all of their boxes. Here’s how to write a good CV.

Things to include in a CV

While everyone has different skills and expertise, there are some key features that every CV should include. These are:

  • Full name
  • Professional title
  • Contact details – home address is not required, just an email and phone number will do
  • Personal profile – a few lines about you, professionally
  • Work history and experience
  • Education
  • Key skills
  • Achievements
  • Hobbies and interests

How to format your CV

Use your name as the title

Whoever’s looking at your CV already knows what it is, so you don’t need to waste space adding ‘Curriculum Vitae’ as the title. Instead, use your name in a large, professional font, so employers immediately know whose CV they’re looking at. Plus, you want your name to be the very first thing they see, so it should be the largest text on the page.

Use a professional font

letters a and z showing different fonts that might be relevant for a cv

Most employers won’t want to see comic sans on a CV. Additionally, elaborate, decorative fonts are difficult to read and will waste space on the page. If an employer has lots of CVs to look over, they won’t want to spend lots of time deciphering different fonts. It’s best to stick to a clear, professional-looking font such as Arial or Times New Roman.

Depending on the industry you’re applying for, different fonts may be more appropriate. For example, a tech job will want to see a more modern looking font, whereas applying for a more traditional industry may favour serif fonts like Times New Roman.

Use lists

Your CV isn’t an essay, so there’s no need to include long or elaborate sentences. Brevity is essential when writing a good CV, so make use of plenty of lists to avoid your CV becoming too long winded. Bullet points will help you to keep lists organised, and make it clear what your different points are. Although bullet points should be kept short, make sure you’re still writing in full, grammatically correct sentences.

With bullet points that contain dates, such as work experience or education, organise these in reverse chronological order. This means the most recent work will be at the top of the list. Employers will want to see your most recent experience before your old achievements.

Pay attention to file type and name

Different computers often use different word processors, so make sure your CV is saved in a universal format that can be opened on all programs. This can be a .docx file, however the word processor that an employer uses may reformat your CV. So, don’t let your hard work go to waste – saving your CV as a PDF will preserve the formatting, meaning it’ll look exactly the same as how you created it.

Don’t forget to give your CV a relevant, professional name when you save it. This should be something along the lines of ‘Your Name CV’, as well as any other information you feel is necessary. But, it’s better to keep the name short, and make sure your name is first so that it’s easy to find your CV in an employer’s documents.

How to write a good CV: top tips

Proofread – a lot!

If it’s between you and another candidate, the smallest mistake can make all the difference. Don’t let a simple spelling or grammatical mistake be the reason you don’t get the job. The only way to check your CV for errors is to proofread it – multiple times. Especially if you’ve spent a long time perfecting your CV, some errors may be difficult to catch. Make sure to come back to your CV with a fresh mind and give it a couple of thorough reads. You can even ask a friend or family member to proofread it for you – the more people that check your CV, the better.

Check industry standards

Some industries prefer a CV to be kept short and sweet, whereas others may favour long, detailed accounts of your skills and experience. To be sure, check the job vacancy post, online forums, or even ask a professional about the standard CV expectations for your field. It’s always good to seek industry-specific CV advice, as many may have lesser heard of rules. For example, some fields appreciate a GDPR statement on your CV so that it can be shared with others, whilst this won’t be necessary for lots of other jobs. Do your research, and all will be fine.

Include relevant keywords

A lot of the time, employers may use Applicant Tracking Systems, which scan through your CV to determine how relevant you are to the role. So, it’s important to include all the necessary keywords. For example, if you were applying for a digital marketing career, you’d want to include SEO, content marketing, and other relevant keywords in your CV.

Take note of the traits, experience and responsibilities that appear on the job post – these are always helpful to include in your CV. If an employer is looking for someone who shows incredible attention to detail, make sure this is stated on your CV so that they know how well you fit their criteria.

Try to tailor your CV each time

As tempting as it can be when job searching, avoid sending out your CV to multiple companies at once. Unfortunately, your CV isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of document, even if you’re applying for the same role at different companies. Their brand values or job expectations could differ, so you’ll also need to alter your CV accordingly. Providing a CV that’s specific to the job you’re applying for will be more effective than a generic one.

Add any relevant websites

an art portfolio with drawings similar to an online portfolio for a cv

If you have a LinkedIn or other professional social media pages, these should be linked on your CV. Most job applications nowadays happen online, meaning you can link to your online assets. At the very least, you can include your usernames to allow employers to look you up. If you do choose to include your LinkedIn on your profile, be sure to read our blog post about how to improve your Linkedin presence first.

If you have a blog or online portfolio, be sure to link to this, too. Your CV should pull out all the stops to impress potential employers, and linking to your own website is a great way to save space on the page whilst still giving the option for employers to see more of your work.

Quantify your achievements

Numbers sell – something we know all too well. Clients and employers alike want to know exactly how much you can benefit them, and the easiest way to show this is by quantifying it. Don’t just mention the ways that you improved your previous projects – let them know that you contributed to a 263% increase in media coverage over six months. This is much more impressive as it shows exactly how effective your work was, and the results you can achieve.

For more insightful career advice, take a look at our Content Hub. To contact a member of our digital marketing team, get in touch here.

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