Your CV is the most important tool that you have to impress your potential employer. Know how to write a CV, and you’ll be on your way to securing the job of your dreams. Get it wrong, and no matter how perfect you are for the role, you won’t even get your foot through the front door.
How to write a CV
There are many elements that you need to consider when crafting the perfect CV. Whether this is your first CV in your job search or you’ve decided to re-write an existing CV, you may have many questions such as, “How to write a CV?”, “How long should a CV be?” and “What information should I include?” You also have to consider how to tailor your CV and lay it out, as well as consider what format it should take, be it a digital resume or a more traditional form.
We’ve created the definitive guide to crafting the perfect resume. From how to write a CV; to knowing what you should include and exclude; to tips on how to lay out and tailor your CV - we’ll help you create the perfect CV that will get you the job you’ve been dreaming of.
What is a CV?
A CV is a written document of everything that relates to your work history. Your CV can include your experience, skills, achievements, education and qualifications. As your CV is often the first impression that your potential employer will have of you, it’s also one of the most important documents that you will ever create.
Your CV needs to be up to date, meticulously correct, and it’s essential to land a job - you can’t/won’t secure a first interview without it.
CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, which is Latin for ‘Course of life’. Technically, a resume is generally a shorter account of professional and educational history; whereas a CV is longer than a resume and more in depth, covering professional accomplishments, awards and recognitions.
How long should a CV be?
Your CV should be no longer than 3-4 pages long. If you are a student, you may not yet have a great deal of experience, so 1-2 pages is completely acceptable.
If you have several years’ worth of experience and accomplishments, however, it can be a challenge to keep it within the 3-4 page limit when writing a CV.
Remember that truly great CVs are short and succinct – so be sure to follow our guidelines as to what to include and exclude in your CV.
What is the best CV font?
Every candidate wants to put their best font forward, particularly when it comes to their CV. Just like you shouldn't begin your CV with your "Activities and interests" section or allow it to creep onto five pages, the best CV font is one that covers a few bases.
Here are the best fonts for CV writing - see how they weigh in with your favourites.
How to write a career objective
While often overlooked, career objectives are one of the most important parts of your CV as they complement your experience and skills and give prospective employers a sense of your work-related ambitions.
They don’t need to be particularly long to make an impact, but they do need to be well considered and well executed to be both meaningful and impressive.
Here are our tips on writing a career objective that wows every employer you encounter.
How to explain career gaps in your resume
Life can take you in unexpected directions, and you may have employment gaps. The important thing is how to make a resume that attends to these gaps.
Here are our tips on how to handle employment gaps in your resume.
How to 'do' a CV
Now that you know what to put on a CV, make your first draft. Then, take a break and review it a few days later. With fresh eyes, you can be more objective.
Consider: Are my achievements relevant for the role that I want to apply for? How can I demonstrate that my skills are of value to the organisation?
Tailor your CV, and edit it as necessary. Finally, get a trusted friend to proofread your CV. You can spend all the time in the world crafting what to write on a CV, but all that time can be wasted with just one spelling mistake.
How to tailor your CV
Tailoring is the key to making a good CV great. If you ensure that the information is personalised specifically to the role and employer, your CV will stand out from the pack.
First, start with researching the role and employer, and identify what achievements or skills you have that are relevant for the job at hand.
Then, bring those achievements and skills to the forefront using these key tips.
Having a well-presented CV is critical to securing your perfect job. It's not enough to have great content; your CV layout needs to be easy-to-read, professional and appealing.
Your hiring manager will have seen hundreds of different CVs. That means that it’s important that you follow the general standard when laying out and ordering the information, to help them navigate the content and to ensure your experience stands out.
While the skills for your CV will vary according to the role you’re applying for, its seniority and the industry you work in, there are some skills that will always be valued by employers.
Here are our tips on the top five skills you should include on your CV.
CV templates and samples
A CV template is used as a guide as to how a professional CV should be laid out. Resume templates also provide helpful information as to what content should be included in a CV. Often taking a ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ approach, a resume template can help to short-cut the time-intensive process that is creating the perfect CV.
There are thousands of CV templates and samples available online that can be downloaded and updated. Visit our CV templates page for CV samples including accounting and IT resumes.
How to make sure your CV stands out online
Increasingly, employers are interested to see your digital CV. A digital CV is, as it sounds, a resume that is readily accessible online via your own or a third-party platform.
In creating an online resume, there are many different options available. You can take a full ‘bells-and-whistles’ approach, and build your own website or create a video to create a big impact. Or you can leverage an existing networking platform, such as LinkedIn. You can also use a free online CV builder.
An online CV has the advantage of being discoverable by potential employers, but also has the disadvantage of not being tailored to suit a specific role that you may be going for. While they certainly have their place and will become increasingly more important, digital CVs are best used in conjunction with a more traditional, off-line CV.
You can never invest too much time towards crafting the perfect CV. Even if you get the basics right, there are important nuances to consider that will help ensure that your CV gets to the top of the pile.