How To: Write the Perfect CV

How To: Write the Perfect CV

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A CV is designed for one purpose – to get you an interview. However, on average a recruiter will spend between 20 to 30 seconds looking at your CV. Therefore, you need to make a good impression quickly.

It is important that your CV stands out, is relevant, accurate and interesting as you are selling yourself. To achieve this a good CV should include:

1: Personal details – contact numbers, email address, postal address.

2: Personal Statement 
- This is your chance to make a good impression. If you don’t achieve this at the start of your CV the recruiter may not read any further which will affect your chances of getting an interview.

Employers will want to know what you can offer the business, what you will do for them. Personal statements are often very self-orientated but employers will not be interested in what you want from a career. Statements such as career orientated, looking for a challenge do not present the right impression. Statements such as “results orientated” tell an employer what the benefit of employing you would be.

3: Employment History – Employers will focus on this aspect of the CV. Therefore, this is an opportunity to convince the recruiter of your suitability for the job and answer these questions: Why should they hire you? What value would you add to the business? What is unique about you and how can you meet and exceed their needs?

During this section you need to tell the recruiter your career history without making it mechanical and boring. Always give your career history in chronological order giving the most recent jobs the most detail as it is most likely that the skills and experience gained in these posts that will determine your suitability for the role. Always give start and end dates for jobs. Although this section will normally remain fairly static, it is worthwhile ensuring that your have listed duties, skills experience which is relevant to the job you are applying for. This may mean adding extra information to ensure you have given full details needed to demonstrate your suitability for the job. However, do not tell lies or exaggerate, as a good recruiter will be able to establish this at some stage during the recruitment process.

If there is a gap in your employment history explain why – i.e. some time was taken out to travel.

4: Education 
- If you graduated/have recently graduated from a highly regarded university, obtained excellent academic results or are currently studying towards a professional qualification relating to your chosen career, then position this section near the top of your CV. However, if your career history is your strongest selling point then place the Education section towards the end of your CV.

5: Skills
- After Employment History, this is arguably the most important part of your CV because it highlights your unique selling points as a prospective employee. Make it easy for employers to spot your talents and be clear about what you are offering.

You need to sell yourself and demonstrate your skills and achievements and show how you are going to be a positive addition to their workforce. Be deliberate with your choice of skills. If you are unclear about what skills the job requires because the job advert gives little information, then search similar job titles and note what those positions are looking for.

Once you have done that, create a list of your matching competencies in terms of transferable, job-related and adaptive skills such as communication, technical or problem solving skills.

Always remember your audience
- Employers will quickly scan a number of CV’s and they do not want to be reading a list of skills or an employment history that is unfocused. So keep it clear and uncluttered. Keep your list short and tailored to the position that you are applying for. Remember your CV is designed to market you to a potential employer.

Generally we would not recommend including a hobbies section as employers are rarely interested in this. The only time it is useful is for young people with no or limited employment history where they can demonstrate their outside interests are relevant to the post, or adds to their skills. i.e. any voluntary work etc.

We do not recommend including a photo on a CV. If photos are included they are generally removed once received before passing to a manager for review (for equality reasons).

CV’s, the key thing is to keep relevant, accurate and waffle free – how many pages to include very much depends on how much a story needs to be told, which could be two pages or three or four pages for some people.

Do not mention social media unless it is a in skills or part of appropriate employment history and only if it is relevant to the post. For example a marketing person would put this in their skills and also mention it as part of their employment history to say they use it as a marketing tool. For a class room assistant it is unlikely to be relevant.

NCC Home Learning offer over 350 Distance Learning Courses that will help bolster your CV, also available is an Effective Personal Development Diploma to ensure the positive expansion of your skill set.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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