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How to Write the Perfect CV

Remember as a child in class, you would always look over at the brainy kid with the perfectly neat hand writing and feel a pang of jealousy as you stared at your own illiterate scribbles? Could have been Chinese for all anyone knew.

But as time passed, your writing matched the brainy kid’s, as did everyone’s. So now you’re all generally similar, some may be neater; some more articulate; some quicker. No one has a ‘perfect’ style; there is no strict template for how to write your ABCs. Much the same with CVs: each one will be different.

Envisage a pile of great CVs laid out in front of you. Some achieved higher grades; some have a little more experience; some are complimented by better references. Whose is the best? Impossible to say.  All great CVs, however, will adhere to similar templates and follow similar rules.

Play to your strengths

If you have spent most of your time in education, and the most prominent achievements you’ve acquired are academic, allocate a considerable majority of your CV to highlight these, and lead with them.

Detail the accomplishments you’re most proud of, or achieved highest in. If your strength is loyal employment, illustrate your dedication; if your references sing your praises, ensure they are noticeably visible and rank highly in your CV.

Do not lie

Granted, these thoughtless lies may lure more initial attention, but you are eventually more than likely to be caught out, whether that be in the interview when it’s slipped your mind that you single-handedly tripled a company’s profit, or a year down the line over drinks with the boss.

Trim the fat

Accentuate the most relevant and impressive things about yourself, but be clear and concise about them. Nobody wants to know, least of all employers, that your old colleague Susie had a fall one day and had to go to the doctor so you had to fill in whilst doing your own job whilst trying to eat your lunch whilst organising a campaign whilst fixing the printer, all to find out that you’re a good multi-tasker.

Succinct points will make a good enough impression, and are likely to have a much more bold impact. As a general rule, a CV shouldn’t really exceed 1 ½ or 2 pages of A4.
At an interview, if asked, there is nothing stopping you giving these examples and proving your point, but let condensed points speak for themselves on paper.

Check, check, and check again

Your CV is the very first impression of you that a client or employer will get. They know nothing about you until they start reading this documented version of you, so it is fundamentally essential everything is correct, and there are absolutely no errors. It sounds extreme, but as little as an apostrophe could cost you an initial interview.

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Create a professional email address for yourself. Clients would unsurprisingly be more inclined to meet with davejohnson@email.com than davethesexydude@hotmale.com. Anything you include on your CV will connote personality traits, so make sure everything points to your professionalism and not your overt persona at the weekends.

Make it a looker

Crowded, crumpled, congested CVs aren’t easy to navigate. Make sure there are plenty of gaps and lines are well spaced. Bullet points are a great way of organising a format. It’s unusual to include a picture on a CV, and use a clear, medium sized font – nothing too small or informal.

Tailor to fit

Say you are going for a marketing role. You may have great experience producing leaflets, banners and such, but if the role is Digital Marketing, there isn’t an awful lot of use including your print expertise.

Read the job role specification and connect your existing skills to the ones required. If social media is a bullet point of the requirements, detail which social media campaigns you may have been a part of and how successful they were.

Basically, for every role you apply for, revise your CV and tailor it to the specification (sounds a lot like hard work and time consuming, but worth it).  

By Amy Hinchliffe

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