How to write a CV
Tips for putting together a perfect CV to promote your talent.
Your CV is the window into your experience, education, interests and personality. It should tease and champion why you’re so great to show employers why you are perfect for their company. We’ve pulled together CV tips, step by step guide to creating your CV and collected some examples in this comphrensive CV guide.
- Quick CV tips
- When to create a CV
- 10 second CV rule
- The right CV format
- How to write a CV
- Your online CV
- CV design
- Creative CV's
- CV examples
Quick CV tips
- One page only
- Make clear what your career ambitions are
- Be concise with what you say
- Include only relevant experience
- Provide a flavour of your personality
- No pictures or images (KISS)
- Always send in PDF format
- Proof read again, again and again
- Get someone to review your CV (we can help)
- Keep your CV after starting a job
When to create a CV
As soon as possible. Always have a CV that is up to date with your achievements. In addition to that, your CV is one page that features the most relevant achievements for what you’re applying for.
It should be something you can update easily as you gain more experience, knowledge and should always be tailored to specific jobs.
“Always have a CV that is up to date with your achievements.”
10 second CV rule
There’s much said about CV’s only being read by employers for 3, 5 or 10 seconds before they make a decision. There’s no imperical evidence to define how long it is but you must assume that most employers looking at CV’s will only spend a little time before deciding to read the whole page.
So you need to wow them quickly. This means you need a simple CV design with concise copy that highlights the best bits. Don’t give them any reason to discount you with their first glance.
"Spend 10 seconds scanning it and shout out what you see."
Once you feel your CV is in the right place, there’s a test you can do. Spend 10 seconds scanning it and shout out what you see, a friend could do this for you too. Are the right ingredients coming across? If not, keep refining until it is.
Picking the right CV format
The perfect CV length is one page. Why? Well how often do you look for what you want on page 2 of a google search?
The reason it’s one page is due to the limited time employers spend looking across your CV. Your CV should clearly show what you have achieved academically and what relevant experience you have. Things like projects and interests should tease and not be fully descriptive. Keep it short, sharp and to the point.
Before creating your CV think about which software you will use. Google Docs, Microsoft Word, InDesign and Pages are all great and will keep it easy to update in the future. If you decide to go down the creative route in Photoshop, remember that the time spent building something incredible might waste time as you have to rework your CV when adding future experience or skills as well as smaller edits when applying for each role.
"Tease your talent and abilities with a one page CV."
To make it easy for everyone to read and print your CV, always export to PDF. If you are using a different piece of software to the employer and they can’t open your CV, it’s a massive fail.
Print off your CV, see how it appears before sharing with the world. Double check any links you’ve added. Do they work, go to the right place?
Another CV formatting tip is to bold the bits you want them to see. Often this would be degree, university, companies you worked at and anything else relevant and outstanding. Make sure each section is titled too, employer's eyes have been running around CV's all day, show them where to see your education and experience.
How to write a CV
Spending a crazy amount of time making your CV the most beautiful thing in the world isn't necessarily going to help you. In most cases, it's the information on your CV that counts.
With one page it’s vital to be really concise with what you include. The following CV template is a good structure to take whilst making it dead easy for employers to find what they need.
Plain text will do, save your personal brand for later.
Provide the best phone number and email address employers can reach you at. Add social links and blog links if you keep them up to date. To keep things clean, link text instead of adding long messy URL’s.
- Include a picture, people might be presumptive about who you are.
- Use your university or college email. Try to use an email that is pretty much just your name. Avoid your old school nickname, for example ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
- Worry about including labels like 'Phone' or 'Email'. It’s self explanatory.
- Have two numbers or two emails. Pick the most important contact information.
Unless requested, leave these bits off too:
- Date of birth. Don't give them a reason to discount you based on how young or old you are.
- Your address. Employers will assume you can get to where they are based.
- Drivers license number.
A pithy statement describing what you are looking for. Your key achievements will be shown later, your personality is best shown in an interview but your career ambitions and which job you are looking for will help an employer see you want what they are offering.
For example "I'm a graduate of [insert course] at University of [insert institution] looking for a [insert job title] role in the [insert] industry". This can obviously be updated for each role you're going for and simply helps the employer know they're looking at the right CV.
- Use cliché CV terms such as hardworking, organised, passionate etc.
- Summarise what they are about to read, let their eyes jump to those crucial bits.
State the last two places you studied, don’t worry about GCSE grades if you’re about to finish university.
Briefly include your grades achieved and if you're able to, mention your dissertation or final project as well as any relevant units that you have studied to back up the job are applying for.
Two/three lines per item max and if you have extra education such as short courses or online courses add these as one line.
Only pick the most relevant experience to the job you’re applying, three pieces of experience is enough. And one will do if that's what you've got. Your CV should be built in a way that you can easily swap relevant experience in and out. Have all your experience saved away in that other achievements file.
In describing your experience at past or current jobs show what you have learnt, the role you had and the people you worked under. Demonstrating to an employer that you have great workplace skills is as important as showing you can learn new skills too, so some variety is okay here.
Think you’re missing experience in particular areas for the jobs you really want? Go out there and get the experience whether it’s part time or full time during the evenings or weekends. It could even mean taking on personal projects in your spare time, attending events or doing short courses.
Include random jobs like being a egg collector, shot girl or shop assistant. If you have gaps in your CV, you can mention what you were doing when they ask you this in the interview. Otherwise list 'work experience' with one line for each role.
Don’t generalise, such as Microsoft Office, state the ones you’re really good at like, Excel and Powerpoint. Again the same applies when it comes to the Adobe Suite, be specific. This will help you standout.
Try to think about any tools or software you take for granted in your skills set that you are really good at. It could be analytics, video editing, social media platforms, research or project management software. Perhaps you've learnt some code or have some fluent (spoken/written) languages under your belt?
- Add charts declaring your skills, typically found on more creative CV’s, especially if you have included that you are at 100% within a skill. This means you can’t develop any more, right? Adding this might put off employers.
- Add items here that you’re not good at or used only once or twice.
This is where you can include any voluntary work, any homemade projects, any blogs you run, any films you’ve made, etc.
Summarise some of the things you’re proud of, don’t overbake it, simple descriptions should make the employer intrigued to meet you and find out more.
At FutureRising from our experience working with employers we know that they rate seeing personal projects very highly. It's makes you more attractive to their business as it demonstrates your self motivation and ambition.
Couple of lines max here, and only if there's some space left. Get across some of the things that make you different to help you stand out. Let your life story come later at the interview or when you have your job.
Listing our references or even stating ‘References on request’ is not required any more. Every employer nowadays is aware that they can ask for references.
Your online CV
Once on a shortlist of contenders for a job, you will be Googled. For employers it’s a good benchmark to see how connected you are, what you’re saying and how you look after your brand. Nowadays everything you do online is building a brand about who you are and who you want to be.
So you need to consider your whole presence online as your CV, you shouldn’t rely on the traditional CV to simply promote who are you or what you do.
Carefully monitor your online profiles (FutureRising, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Behance, LinkedIn, Dribble, Tumblr etc.) so your brand is consistent on all fronts.
Be considered in your approach, use no more that two fonts to add some style to your CV. Anymore might show that your approach to design isn’t on point.
Not necessary, just adds more time and when printed might not look too good.
Full colour can be great on your desktop or mobile screen but once printed might may not look great. The issue being everyone has a different printer with different settings. Best to avoid.
Try not to change the margins too much to squeeze stuff on the page. If you are only using the most important information you shouldn't have to play too much with margins.
Creative CV’s that use different, colours, typography, images, stats, charts, augmented reality can be incredible. If it looks great you can instantly stand out in a pile of CV’s.
Some people have gone even further to put CV’s on cakes, in hamster balls, on newspapers, on billboards. If you do have the time to focus your attention on a few employers you’re passionate about working for, go for it and do something that will bring attention to you.
With creative CV’s make sure you get a few people to look across it. Don’t get your best friend or family, you need someone who will give you honest, no nonsense criticism on how it looks or reads.
For inspiration, here are a handful of creative CV examples:
Shortly we'll be adding creative, academic, skills based and technical CV examples for you to download, edit and secure a job with. In the mean time if you would like us to feedback on your current CV please use the link below.