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How to upgrade your CV to get that job

3 minute read

One of the first things you’ll get asked for when applying for any job role or placement is your CV, so you need to make sure it’s doing the best job it possibly can to get you noticed and through to interview stages.

Tailor your CV to fit the role

When looking at any role, it’s important to consider your CV against that particular role.

Work through the ‘Job Specification’ highlighting the key words and important attributes, these are the qualities the employer is looking for, and you’ll want to make sure you’re communicating them throughout your CV. 

When you’re detailing your previous work, make sure you keep your bullet points relevant to the key words and if the role requires specific skills, try and bring these to life with with examples from your education or career history.  

Make a strong first impression

A personal profile, which is also often called a personal statement or CV summary, is a short introduction to your CV which sits at the top of the document. This is your chance to market yourself, but make it punchy!

Use your personal profile to highlight your skills and strengths. If you need a hand with this, try a personality test, the results might surprise you, but they’ll give you some insight into how and why you behave the way you do.

Include three or four adjectives to describe yourself – ask a friend for help if you need it.

Use the space to answer the question  “What has driven you to do what you want to do?” or “What are your career goals?”

Aim for a maximum of six sentences, short, clear sentences are better.

The CV’s body

Begin with your most relevant experience. If you’re just starting your career, then include any volunteering or relevant personal interests. 

A recruiter at Google recommends using the ‘X-Y-Z formula’ when writing about your achievements, “I accomplished X, as measured by Y, by doing Z.”

Always use dynamic language, here are some useful examples.

Mention your transferable skills, if you’ve worked in a cafe or a bar then you’ve already worked in a “people-focused role”, if you’ve helped run a university society, then you’ve already shown “organisational skills and administrative abilities”. 

Remember to…

Shout about your achievements – whether you’re taking an extra course to improve your digital skills, or started a blog, these are details that help employers understand you.

Be Concise – punchy phrases will help keep employers engaged. 

Proofread and proofread again – it’s an obvious one, but you can’t say you’ve got “good communication skills” or “meticulous attention to detail” if you’ve not checked your CV for spelling mistakes. 

Head here for some common mistakes to look out for.

Design and layout

If you’re applying for a creative role, you can use your CV to express your creative talent. To get some help standing out from the crowd, here are some creative templates. However, if you’re looking for something a little more traditional, then look here. 

Display your name and contact information at the top of your CV.

When you’re laying out your CV, you can use different styles based on your experiences. 

Reverse Chronological Style – this is the classic format and has five key sections:

  • Contact details
  • Personal profile
  • Work history
  • Education
  • Additional skills

This style works best for people with a steady progression in their career and work experience, remember to begin the work history section with your most recent work.

If you have an unconventional work history, then your CV could follow a Skills-based format, this is fairly similar to the reverse chronological style, but centres around the skills and attributes you’ve developed through your work. Your five sections would be:

  • Contact details
  • Personal Profile
  • Skills summary (with examples)
  • Education
  • Additional skills

Fonts and formatting

Go for a slim font that’s easy to read. Stay away from fussy fonts and remember to highlight key words in bold. You’ve got options, but never ever use Comic Sans. 

Your CV should be skimmable – smart formatting makes relevant information clear to see; keep your paragraphs and bullet points short, big blocks of text can be off-putting.

Finally – always save and send your CV in PDF format. Good luck!

Feeling inspired? Take the THIS IS HOW Quiz to find out more about what you’re good at and possible job roles that could be a match for you!