Opinion

Top tips on CV writing

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Not getting interviews? Could your CV be holding you back? An employer’s first contact with a potential employee is via their CV. Often, an employer may decide whether or not to pursue a candidate’s job application after reading only the first few paragraphs of a CV. First and rapid impressions matter.

People very often under-sell themselves in their CVs and other areas of job application so it is important that people emphasise their strengths appropriately.

Your CV should compel the reader to interview you, should reflect your strengths as a professional in a competitive job market - and of course, should be perfectly crafted.

Moreover, your CV must stand out from all the others that employers receive, representing you as a unique and valuable individual, hitting all the right spots when it comes to the organisation’s requirements.

CV-clinic-thumbCVs must be kept up to date, be tailored to reflect each job’s particular characteristics and clearly communicate your qualifications and the knowledge and skills gained through your experiences. Your career aspirations should be clear and you should describe how you intend to perform in any new position.

But it’s not just facts that employers are interested in; you must also be able to convey your personality, your energy and motivations and your professional interests, your unique attributes and why you beyond anyone else, are vital to the organisation’s success. A powerfully written and well-presented CV gives you a big advantage over other job applicants.

Top tips

  • Find some sample CVs that you believe are well written, appealing – and which have succeeded in getting the owner a job interview.
  • CVs should be no more than two A4 pages in length.
  • Each time you submit your CV, tailor it to the job being applied for, usually by adjusting the personal statement.
  • Emphasise positive achievements rather than responsibilities and include attributes, such as a language over and above those required by the job.
  • Always tell the truth - but don’t undersell yourself.
  • Presentation is key so make your CV look neat and attractive – and there should be no spelling or typing errors. Paper CVs should always be printed on white paper using black ink. If submitting a CV online, keep to a clear typeface with no elaborate embellishments.
  • If citing hobbies or activities undertaken outside of work, choose with care.
  • Quotes drawn from testamonials from colleagues or previous employers are not necessary.
  • Ask a colleague or friend to read over and check your CV with a dispassionate eye.
  • Never include a photograph or confidential personal information such as your passport or national insurance numb.

For help and advice with writing your CV, contact the CV Clinic.

About the author

Pauline Byers MBE is a nurse, midwife and health visitor with over 20 years experience of preparing adults for careers in health, social care and teaching.  Trained as a career coach, mentor and senior lecturer in health care, she supports professional practitioners for entry, employment and promotion in the NHS and independent sector. Pauline is now offering help and advice to nurses looking to improve their careers as she takes the lead of new CV service, the CV Clinic.