Improve your CV

Creating your first CV can be a daunting prospect. Here are a few simple rules to help you craft yours

A curriculum vitae (CV) is likely the first thing employers or recruiters will see from candidates in a job application process. It’s a first impression and it’s important to create the right one.

But what should you put on a CV? How much information should you share? How do you make it stand out from others?

We ask some experts and pull out some top tips so you can create your CV with confidence.

Sell your skills

Your CV should have a short personal profile at the top of the page. “What you really want to do is sell yourself as best as you can,” says Sue Ledgard, corporate account manager, business consulting, at Grant Thornton. Think about your biggest professional attributes and what you can bring to a company. Then, the rest of the CV should be bullet points, to keep it as concise and engaging as possible.

Your skills are very important to convey on your CV. But even if you don’t have much experience in a workplace, think about skills you have picked up from your education background. Have you captained a football team? Are you part of any clubs in or out of school? Did you lead a group project? Perhaps you’ve had to give a presentation or you’ve needed to motivate your team before or after a game. How could this help in the workplace?

“If you’re just starting out, you’ve still got skills. You don’t need to have a job to have a skill,” says Sue.

And when you’re writing bullet points about your previous work experience, don’t just list all your responsibilities. “What somebody is more interested in is what you achieved in that role, rather than just a job description,” says Sue.

Keep it personal

It’s key that your application is tailored to the job you’re applying for. Look at what the job requires and ensure that you’ve included what it’s asking for. You may need to change your CV for each job too, pulling out different skills and rearranging the order, so the most important things for that particular specification are nearer the top.

And if the job asks for a cover letter, this is even more of a chance to sell yourself.

Claire Steiner, co-founder of the Future You Foundation, says: “The people who are reading it will think ‘they understand what the job is about, and this is what they can offer me’.”

Check your CV and cover letters thoroughly for any spelling and grammar mistakes. When you’re ready to send your application, make sure your email is personalised. “Research the company,” says Claire. “If you’ve done your research, you can probably find out who the person is [that you need to send it to].”

Top tips

  • Highlight your skills and achievements: You will have acquired more skills than you think, even if it’s through school projects or extracurricular clubs.
  • Tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for: Companies want to know why you’re applying there specifically.
  • Keep it to bullet points: Aside from your personal profile, keep your achievements and experience simple and easy to read.
  • Don’t forget: Check your spelling and grammar.
Credit: Lenovo, Kaspars Grinvalds/