How to write a CV for a job in the UK
Not everyone knows how to write and CV, especially a good CV that wins interviews! If you’ve not written a CV before or your comprehension of the English language isn’t great, writing a CV can be more difficult than you would initially think. It’s not always easy to write about yourself, your skills and your work history objectively, whilst ensuring you meet the demanding criteria expected of a contemporary, professional CV in today’s highly competitive market.
Your CV is a key marketing tool and you should always think about how to best promote yourself to a potential employer; using your key attributes, skills and achievements to make yourself stand out from the competition… securing an interview.
Whilst the majority of people have probably written a CV of some description at some point in their career history; now, more than ever, is it essential that every aspect of a CV is perfect in every way. It is all too easy to make some of the common CV writing mistakes we see every day.
Below you will find some helpful hints and guidance on how to write a CV and how it should be structured.
It is essential that the HR department or recruiter can get hold of you
You should include:
- Telephone Numbers (land-line/mobile)
- Email Address
You do not need to include:
- Age or date of birth
- Marital Status or Dependants
The contact details should be at the top of the CV so they can be easily located. You do not want to miss out on an interview because the recruiter can’t contact you! It is amazing how many CVs we see each week, which omit these vital pieces of information.
TIP: Make sure your email address sounds professional or at least half normal, not something silly such as fluffybunny@Xmail.com and remove the hyperlink. (Right click link, select remove hyperlink)
- Note down five to six of your key attributes and what you can offer the employer.
- Write a sharp, punchy profile that will capture the reader’s attention and encourage them to read on. Three to four relevant sentences should suffice, don’t waffle.
- Be confident and positive in your abilities and orientate the sentences around the type of position you are looking for. However, avoid the use of ‘I’ or ‘My’, or the third person, ‘she’, ‘he’, ‘Tom’, ‘Laura’, etc.
- You could also include a short, concise statement which advises the recruiter of the type of job you are currently seeking but we would recommend you use an objective section for this, where possible.
- Outline how your skills, academic achievements and experience could contribute to or add value to the organisation, make it clear what you could do for them.
TIP: If you have seen a particular job advertised, scrutinise the wording used in the advert or you could request the job specification. This will help you to identify the key attributes the company is looking for. Providing your skills and experience match those criteria, why not utilise those words? They will also help you beat applicant tracking software/CV scanning software.
It is usually good practice to include a short career objective: a few lines outlining your career aspirations. This is particularly useful for candidates still forging their career path.
Key Skills and Achievements
- Identify four or five of your best assets and list your key skills with a brief description of how you fulfil that skill in the workplace.
- Try to list three or four key achievements throughout your career, making the statements impactful and impressive – try to include facts, figures or another quantifiable in each sentence.
- The key skills and achievements section should reinforce the claims made in your personal profile where possible and demonstrate you are able to deliver.
Professional Experience / Work Experience / Career Summary
This is where you should document your career history to date. Start with your current or most recent job first and work backwards. The last ten years should be listed, with more focus placed on the last five years in particular.
You should include:
- Job Title
- Name of Company and its Location (full address or website is not necessary
- Dates of employment (years should suffice)
What the content should include:
For each position, think about the work you undertook and how this could benefit the potential employer and how it meets the requirements of the role being advertised. Menial tasks should be avoided if you have more suitable senior tasks, which can be listed and we would always recommend you group relevant points together.
How to write the content:
- Start sentences with power verbs for impact and use succinct bullet point statements, which are easier to read and demonstrate you can organise your thoughts in a cohesive manner.
- Facts and figures to reinforce your statements: think about numbers of people, amount of sales, locations, values, %’s, types of business, speed of handling, budgets, turnover, etc
Things to avoid:
- Repetition of the same words.
- Try to avoid using ‘responsible’, be creative and use other action words.
- Do not use names, ‘I’ or ‘my’, ‘he’ or ‘she’ throughout the entire CV.
TIP: Use strong ‘Action Words’ and ‘Power Verbs’ within your bulleted statements to give your career history and abilities real impact! e.g: Led, participated, actioned, identified, completed, developed, liaised, delivered, applied, collaborated, undertook, integrated, increased, achieved, exceeded, awarded, adopted… the list goes on!
Education / Professional Training
Under this section, you should include any formal education, courses or job relevant internal training programmes.
Start with your most recent or highly awarded qualification first and work backwards. Where grades are not so good, there are occasions when they can be omitted and if you are in a senior position, lesser grades are not always required
You should include:
- Name of Course
- Place of Education
- Date of Award
- Grade or Score
TIP: Languages and computer competence can also be listed, as can any relevant association memberships to give you more credibility.
If you are at a lower stage in your career or have outside interests which could relate to your job, then it can be useful to include a short statement to demonstrate these and skills, such as: team building, volunteer work, on-going commitment.
However, if you are more established in your career, the space would be better used to sell your work skills and we would recommend this is omitted.
You do not need to include reference details but can state: ‘References are available on request’.
Your CV should be no more than two pages long. It will demonstrate your ability to organise your thoughts cohesively and also validate that you are able to prioritize.
For the UK market, we recommend that photographs are not included unless you are going to apply for television or modelling work, or, if the position specifically requests you include a picture.
Do You Need More Help?
If you’re still stuck and don’t know how to write a CV, why not buy a CV template pack? It tells you how to write a CV and includes the correct template to use, example CVs and lots of help and guidance sheets to make the CV writing process less painful for you. Buy yours here today!