Good CV: 5 Tips For Writing One

Banner reads: CV Basics. 5 Tips For Writing A Good CV

A good CV is the first step towards an interview.    

It should outline your skills and experience and how they are relevant to the job on offer. Basically, it should tell a recruiter enough about you to make them want to find out more.    

However, writing an effective CV can be time-consuming and tricky.    

Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, this article will break down the key features of a good CV. I will also give you my top 5 tips to make yours stand out from the crowd.  

What should you include in your CV?   

Firstly, a summary statement, but more on that later!   

You also need to include your name and contact details.  You don’t need to put your full address: a city or town is enough to give an idea of your location.  Make sure you include an email address and telephone number.   

You could write the best CV in the world but it is pointless if recruiters don’t know how to contact you.  

Next up is your work experience. In almost all cases, this is the most interesting to employers so it should start on the first page of your CV.  Detail your experience in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent.  

Education and Qualifications should also be included.  Although these are important, most recruiters will only give them a cursory glance.  If a role requires a qualification, they will check you have it, but they won’t spend too long reading this section.  

Top tip: You can also include interests and hobbies, where they are relevant.  Use this section to highlight some of your transferable skills.   

Here’s where that summary statement appears…  

If a recruiter has a pile of CVs to look through, they will be short on time…and interest! Grab their attention from the start with a strong summary statement and they will want to read the rest of your CV.  

The summary statement should only be a few sentences long so those sentences need to pack a punch.   

A good CV will highlight your key experience and achievements in the summary and relate those to the job you are applying for.    

Top tip: Start by asking yourself why you are a good fit for this role. The answer is the basis for your summary statement.    

This should go without saying, but make sure your CV is typed and free from errors.    

In the many years I have worked in Human Resources, I can’t even count the number of times someone has claimed to have excellent attention to detail but has typos in their CV.  Don’t be that person!  

A good CV is set out in a way that makes it easy for the recruiter to read.    

Divide it into clear sections with headers and use bullet points to put across the key points succinctly. You should also lead with the most important information.  

Make it easy for the recruiter to see why they should interview you.  

Top tip: If you’re sending a hard copy of your CV, print out a fresh one. Don’t send a photocopied version of a generic CV.  

Remember when I said not to photocopy a generic version of your CV? There’s a good reason.  You should always tailor your CV towards the job you are applying for.  

I’m not saying you have to write a CV from scratch each time, some sections can be reused. However, before you start you should take time to read and understand the job description so that you can tailor your CV.  

A good CV will use keywords from the job description.  

For example, if you are an experienced Teacher but you are applying for a job as a Learning Facilitator, you should use this terminology to describe your experience.    

You want to make it easy for a recruiter to see how your skills and experience are relevant to their role.  If they have to translate your CV into their terminology, you are putting unnecessary obstacles in their way.  

Top tip: As you read the job description, make notes showing how you demonstrate that you meet the criteria of the role.  

When it comes to writing a good CV, it should be clear that language matters.  Using the right keywords is important but you should also be aware of the way you describe your skills and experience.  

You should use a professional tone but avoid sounding too cold and distant, especially in your summary statement.  Recruiters are looking for someone to fit in in their organisation so you should sound personable but professional.  

Every word counts in a good CV.   

You should aim to contain your CV within two A4 pages but you have a lot of information to give the recruiter.  It is important to be concise and if anything sounds like ‘padding’, remove it!  

When it comes to writing your CV, less is more. Avoid fancy and wordy descriptions of your achievements.  It won’t come across as personable and might even fall foul of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).   

ATS are computer programs designed to scan your CV for keywords to determine how relevant your CV is.  They will be programmed to search for common industry terms so don’t try to be too fancy with your language.  It will backfire!  

If you need to prioritise space, then focus on your current and most recent jobs.  For jobs that you held more than 10 years ago, you can be more brief in your descriptions.  

Top tip: Avoid using a passive voice in your CV. Always explain achievements in terms of what you did to accomplish them.  

Yes, writing a good CV takes time and effort.  If it gets you an interview for your dream job, it’s worth it though, right?  

Following these tips will help you create an effective CV.  Take time to read and understand the job description and carefully consider the language you use.    

Your dream job is right around the corner.  

If writing your own CV sounds tricky, don’t worry.  I can help.  

Here at Military Spouse Works, I can create or edit your CV to make sure it sells your skills and experience to recruiters in the best possible way.   

If you’re interested in finding out more, send me an email at info@militaryspouseworks.com today.    


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