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We know the job market is competitive. To get the job you are looking for, you need to show you are better than the other candidates. The best way to do this is by having a killer CV.
Your CV is the tool you use to sell yourself. It is the tool that will make you stand out from your competition, and it is the tool that an employer is going to use to judge you against other candidates. So, it is important to write your CV with the employer in mind.
This guide will take you through the basics of writing a CV, with a focus on structure and content. We will show you how to demonstrate your education, your work experience, strengths, skills and achievements in the most engaging way.
We also have a range of different example CVs to show different ways you can structure yours, with guidance on what to write under each heading. You can also download and use one of our accessible CV templates.
Before you start writing your CV, it is important to think about what goes an employer does when they are shortlisting for a role.
For example, employers will regularly receive more than 200 CVs for one role. Martin Sigsworth, our former senior employment manager, has extensive experience in the recruitment sector, and describes the reality of shortlisting and what the employer will be thinking when they are looking at your CV.
“A lot of people think, when it comes to shortlisting, a recruiter is going to have lots of time and will be sat with a cup of tea and some biscuits and will read and fully take in this amazing CV which they have produced. To be honest I used to think the same.
“The reality is that shortlisting is one small task in this employer’s busy day, where they are still expected to do all their usual duties but with an extra 200 plus applications to sift through.
“The priority is to get through them as quickly as possible. They make quick decisions on the CVs they look at, and they certainly don’t read CVs that are over two pages long.
“CVs that make it through are those which make an immediate impact and begin with a strong personal statement.
“Personal statements which say things like “highly motivated”, “strong team player” or “hard working” are viewed as too generic and dismissed quickly as they don’t address the key skills and experience, being looked for. Spelling mistakes and poor formatting are also a quick-fire way to get those 200 CVs down to a manageable amount.
“The CVs impossible to ignore are those that clearly demonstrate the individual’s skills and experience and what they could bring to the organisation”.
Keep it short, no more than two pages – no matter how interesting you think you are, the employer hasn’t got the time.
Make an impact – use your personal statement to demonstrate what you can bring to a potential employer. Highlight your skills and experience and relate them to what the employer is looking for. An easy way to do this is to think “so what?” for every skill you write down.
No silly mistakes – the quickest way to not get short listed. Check for spelling mistakes or poor formatting. Proofread your CV, proofread it again, then send it to our employment team to check and, finally, proof it again.
How you structure your CV will largely depend on your circumstances. For example, somebody who has recently left school with limited work experience is going to have to structure their CV differently to somebody who left school ten years ago and has lots of employment history.
If you are unsure how you should structure your CV, look through our CV templates below and see which one best represents your own situation. They provide a good basis for structuring your CV and provide guidance notes so you know what you should be writing under each heading.
A question we always get asked is if somebody should mention their disability on the CV. There is no right or wrong answer to this and it largely depends on personal choice. There is certainly no legal obligation to have it on your CV.
If you are going to inform a potential employer of your visual impairment on your CV it is essential you make this a positive. Within our We work resources other blind and partially sighted professionals talk about how they disclosed their disability and how to turn this into a positive. Whether you describe your visual impairment as your problem-solving super power or highlight how being blind or partially sighted means you are excellent at finding different ways to do things and embracing challenging situations, never be negative.
All that is left is to download one of our accessible templates and produce a selling document that is going to get you in front of an employer. At that point, you can use our interviews resource which gives methods and techniques to make sure that you are the best candidate to walk into that room.