If you’re trying to put together a CV, you’d be forgiven for being very confused by all the advice and different formats out there. You might also be forgiven for wondering what the point of spending time on your CV is when many companies have an in-house application form.
The best format for your CV
There are many formats you can use for your CV and the one you choose doesn’t matter as much as getting the content right. Having said that, there are a few things to bear in mind.
- Firstly, make sure you don’t pick one with American terminology (unless you’re applying for a job in the US!) as this makes it appear that you don’t pay attention to details.
- Secondly, make sure the font size isn’t too large or too small; size 12 is generally recommended for most documents.
- Thirdly, check how your CV appears to others. If you have used a Word document with a large amount of formatting, it might not display well on a smartphone when opened as an email attachment. One option is to save as a pdf but be aware that recruitment agencies often don’t like CVs in this format.
Your CV is a living document
For those who are unsure of the need for CVs at all, look at it from a different angle. Your CV should not be a static document that is done once and never changed. Your CV is a repository for all your job and educational information, to be used and adapted as needed for all employment or academic applications you make. It then becomes easy to copy and paste information into application forms or cover letters when needed.
If a job advert does ask for a CV, make sure you tailor the information to that specific job. Never just send out the same CV to every employer; adapt the personal profile to suit the job role and showcase in your previous experience the most relevant skills to the role.
Your personal profile
The personal profile section is probably the most important one on your CV and it is usually the most poorly written. The trend seems to be to fill it with buzzwords such as ‘I have excellent communication skills’ and ‘I am ambitious, confident and enthusiastic’. Never just list your skills or qualities in this section without backing them up with evidence. This section should briefly relate your most relevant experience and skills to the position you are applying for and highlight why you are the best choice for the role.
Use the person-specification for the job you are applying for and pick out two or three of the main things they are looking for and demonstrate how you meet or exceed the specification requirements.
Those are just a few things to consider when getting started on your CV and there are many other things you should be aware of. Do make sure you take the time to get it right and ensure your CV isn’t the one going into the reject pile.
Lyn Calver is Managing Director of LC Education & Training. She has spent over fourteen years in the education sector working with individuals and businesses to improve confidence, knowledge and skills. She is also a qualified lecturer.