- There is no perfect CV – but you need to aim towards getting it as perfect as you can. Every employer may have subtle preferences that differ, but in the main a good CV will pass most job applications
- Ensure your CV is on 1-2 pages max and structured in a manner that can be easily absorbed by a prospective employer
- Include only relevant things assuming you have a surplus of things to add. For example, ‘relevant’ work experience is more valuable than experience in a shop as a part-time worker during your studies. If you have little ‘relevant’ experience, then you should include other work experience
- Do not add anything that gives away your age. An good objective may help your CV to stand out from the rest. Employers like to see extracurricular activities, so if you have these, be sure to include them
The use of CVs as part of the recruitment process varies between employers. In high-volume recruitment roles, it is unlikely that employers will sift candidates out of the process based on their CVs as this would take up too much time. However these employers could still request CVs that may be subsequently passed on to an interviewer some way down the recruitment path. For jobs that are of low-volume, it is common for employers to ask for CVs. Often, this is the first thing an employer sees about a candidate, and the only thing that represents you at that stage. Thus it is important to ensure your CV is near to perfection.
Our experience has exposed us to hundreds of recruitment situations across employers and therefore we have developed a good idea of what a good CV should look like. Although we will cover the main points in this section, remember that writing a great CV is your responsibility. It is important to note that some employers may request particular information on a CV that may not be covered below; it is therefore vital that you follow the employer’s guidance over the information that we provide below.
There are many ideas floating around about how long an ideal CV should be, but what do you think? If you were an employer, how long would you want the CV to be? Four pages where you may spend longer to uncover a particular area that you are looking for? Or a single page, where everything is succinct and to the point, and you do not have to go far to see the information that you want. The latter option is often most desired but 1-2 pages is acceptable.
Many candidates often have a CV full of superfluous information which probably ends up frustrating the person reading it. In graduate roles, our experience has shown us that CVs that are around 1-2 pages long are desired, whilst CVs which are a single page long and crammed with information using a small font are not pleasant to read.
Often candidates who have had part-time jobs whilst at university, or earlier, may include these experiences in their CVs. Whilst this is acceptable, often it may be better to include the relevant experience you may have had only. If you have had little experience in work, then it is ideal to include all employment examples; however if you have had a few years of relevant experience, then avoid including any of the part-time non-relevant work you may have done.
Things to include
Including your name, contact details with emails, education and work history are common themes. In the past individuals have been known to include their date of birth too. However, with age-related legislation from 2006, this is something that can be avoided.
Including an objective or a personal statement can help, but it is vital to ensure this is to the point and specific. General statements are common and unlikely to help your CV stand out. Think about what it is you are trying to achieve and then break that down too.
References are commonly included, although the details of referees can be withheld, instead replacing these with a comment such as “available upon request”. This avoids referees being contacted prior to you becoming aware, or even before you have had chance to notify them. Employers will have to contact you to determine the contact details of the referees, at which point you will know of their intentions.
Work history should be provided in a reversed chronological manner with the recent employment depicted first. Employers want to see what you have been up to recently, instantly, and may not necessarily want to see what you did 7 years ago.
It is also useful to include any hobbies, interests or extracurricular activities you have been involved in. Employers like to see things like travel, community or charity-based work, leading initiatives such as running societies at university and so on. Sports, particularly those that involve team work are always good ways of letting the employer know that you enjoy operating in a team environment.