Job hunting can be an extremely frustrating process. Depending on the kind of position you’re after, it can mean spending hours filling in lengthy application forms that ask you to type out all the information that can be found on the CV the company has already asked for, or you might trawl through job board after job board applying for as many jobs as you are suitable for and hear absolutely nothing back. If you’re having a rough time with it all, it can be easy to lose faith that you’ll ever find your perfect new job. One thing you can do to ensure you stand out from the crowd is to make sure your CV is in tip-top shape. With companies and recruiters receiving hundreds, maybe thousands of applications for any given position, having a CV that packs a punch is a sure-fire way to make sure you’re noticed. Your CV is your first chance to sell yourself, so don’t let your opportunity to make a great first impression go to waste. We’ve compiled our top tips to create a winning CV that will, hopefully, improve your job hunting prospects immeasurably!
Stay away from online templates
It seems that recently there has been an explosion of websites that allow you to generate a professional CV using a variety of templates. With a few taps and clicks, your CV will look sharp, presentable and stand out from the crowd of boring black and white CVs. Unfortunately, given the fact that they are so easy and they do generate a decent result, swathes of people flock to them to create their own CV when they end up on the job market again. The result? It has become obvious to recruiters and hiring managers who has and hasn’t used one of these sites. If you really want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll want to try and create your CV from scratch yourself. That way it will be a true representation of you and your personality. Sure, it takes longer, but spending a couple of hours creating your own CV template that you can easily edit will show potential employers that you are willing to go the extra mile in order to make an impression.
Don’t be afraid of colour
So many CVs are black and white. A lot of people will refrain from using any other colours for fear of appearing unprofessional. Sure, a CV is a professional document, but nothing about that says it should be monochrome. If your CV is well laid out with consistent fonts and font sizes, it will look professional no matter what colour it is. Imagine you’re a recruiter flipping through a hundred black and white CVs and then, suddenly, you see a pop of colour. You’d take a closer look, wouldn’t you? A great way of keeping things tasteful is to pick two colours, one for headers and one for the body text, and stick to that as your colour scheme. If you want to go one further you can create a matching template for your cover letter to tie everything in together.
Keep it short and sweet
Your CV should ideally be kept to 1-2 pages. As such, any extraneous information needs to go. You should never include your age on your CV, and you don’t really need to include your GCSE and A-Level results if you’ve got higher level qualifications. And while it may seem interesting to you that you spend your weekends playing World of Warcraft tournaments with your mates, a potential employer doesn’t need to know that, so if you have a fun ‘hobbies and interests’ section that sends your CV onto its third page, it needs to go. As a rule, your CV should include these sections:
If you have limited employment experience, you can add a variety of other sections to highlight your achievements, such as:
- Awards and Recognitions
- Volunteer Work
- Club and Society Memberships
- Notable Achievements
Another great way to keep your CV to 1-2 pages is to play with the margins and word spacing when formatting your CV. Widening margins and reducing the space between lines will allow you to fit a lot more in, but make sure it’s all still easily readable at a glance as the too-small text will likely mean your CV is stuck straight on the no pile!
Include a LinkedIn URL
LinkedIn is great. When you’ve got a lot to say about yourself and it won’t all fit on your CV, your LinkedIn account is where you can shout about it. You may have won numerous awards during your time at university, or you might be a freelancer who has worked on multiple projects over the past year that won’t all fit neatly on your CV. Directing people to your LinkedIn will allow them to see all this great stuff about you that you can’t fit, and keeping it well filled out and updated will also allow potential employers to come to you. It’s an invaluable tool for job hunters, so don’t sleep on it!