5th December, 2018

How to Write and Format Your First CV

By Hannah C

If you want to take your first steps into the working world then you’ll need to pull together a killer CV. Impressing a potential employer is the name of the game, so it needs to look great and be packed with all the information they want to read.

Let’s take a look at how you to craft your first CV in a way that will wow your future boss.

Starting out

The very best applicants know what the employer is looking for and tailor their CVs to each job description. Carefully read it from top to bottom. Then read it again. Then again. Maybe once more for luck. 

Highlight the keywords and skills mentioned in the job description and make sure to include them in your CV. For example, if the employer is looking for someone with ‘an eye for detail and great teamwork’, you better make sure to include those exact words. Many employers now use ATS software that scans CVs for keywords and phrases. If you don’t include them, your application may be automatically rejected.

What to include

When it comes to piecing together your CV there is certain information that should always be included. Break it down into these five sections:

Contact details

Your contact details are a must — make it as easy as possible for the employer to get back to you. Include your name, address, telephone number and email.

Personal statement 

Your personal statement should be a short paragraph that explains why you are the stand-out candidate for the role. Reel in the employer by introducing yourself and highlighting your most relevant skills and experience. You should also include what your next career move will be.

Employment history 

Your employment history should list your roles in reverse chronological order, with your most recent job at the top.  Don’t worry if you’ve not done a lot of paid work, there is still lots you can include. Work placements, volunteering, community projects and internships are all places you could have gained transferable and applicable experience.

Include the company/organisation, its location, website and your dates of employment. Then highlight any responsibilities you had that would be relevant for the role you are applying to.

Education and qualifications 

Your education history should be a reverse chronological list of academic and professional qualifications you have attained. Remember to include the institution, qualification and the dates you attended.

If one of your qualifications is relevant to the role, make sure you highlight that to the reader. For example, if you’re applying for a position in a media company and you took a media degree then make sure the potential employer knows about it.

Other skills and experience

Your ‘other skills and experience’ section is a great place to highlight anything else you have that might be relevant for the role. For example, if you’re a wizard with words and speak another language or have another skill that is relevant to the job, include it here.

Formatting your CV

When it comes to formatting your CV, simplicity is key.

Bullet points, bolding, underlining and italics are fine but make sure you stick to the same rules throughout. For example, if your first section heading is in bold, then make sure all subsequent section headings are also bold.

You can also tailor the layout to your advantage. For example, if your education is very relevant to the job you are applying for, then place an emphasis on it by putting it towards the top of your CV.

Final touches

Once you’ve got all the relevant information down, highlighted your prize features and included all your keywords, it’s time to check for errors.

It is absolutely vital that your CV is error-free. Check, check and recheck your work for any mistakes. A spellchecker will help but it won’t pick up every typo.  Check for consistency errors. Don’t say you started one school in Sept 2015 and then started university in September ‘18.

It might seem insignificant but when there are hundreds of applicants for a job, these types of mistakes can be the difference between being invited for an interview and not. When you’re 100% happy with your CV and you feel it is ready to send, save it as a PDF. This will keep the formatting as you intended.

Writing your first CV: Your conclusion

Pulling together your first CV can be a daunting task, but hopefully, this guide will help you on your way. Remember, the key to writing an eye-catching application is knowing exactly what the employer is looking for. Read that job description carefully and include everything they are after. Make sure to double-check everything you write — you wouldn’t want a silly mistake to stop you from landing that dream job!

Author Bio - Andrew Arkley is the founder of PurpleCV, one of the UK's leading CV help providers 

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