How To Write A CV
Step by Step With CV Template
Leigh Gillatt • Careers Advice
HOW TO WRITE A MODERN CV 2021
Believe me, speaking from my own experiences, I know that writing a great CV from scratch can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task.
Even if you’ve had previous experience of writing a CV, you might still end up making some easily avoidable mistakes.
A CV represents the entry point into getting that all important job interview, and one step closer to landing the job.
So, what is it that recruiters are ideally looking for in a CV?
This beginners guide will cover all the CV guidelines and tips we’ve covered in numerous articles over the years, and provide you with a free to use CV template, all in one handy step by step guide. It’ll give you all you need to write a professional CV for 2021, including several example snippets.
By following our CV beginners guide, you will learn…
- How to write a CV
- What is a CV? And, what is a resume?
- How to choose the ideal CV design & CV format for 2021
- What content you should include, such as the key skills that should be on your CV
- Tips for how you can easily write an effective CV
- Use your newly created CV to apply for jobs
So, without further ado, lets get started...
How do I write a CV step by step?
How to write a CV in 2021:
- Choose the right format for your CV
- Create your CV header
- Write a CV Personal Statement
- List your work experience and key skills matched to that in the job description
- Including your achievements where applicable to help your CV stand out from the crowd
- List your Education
- Include some of your hobbies and personal interests
- Use CV keywords and action verbs
- Proofread the CV and then begin submitting it effectively
- Consider accompanying your CV with a Cover Letter
BUT HOW CAN YOU ACTUALLY USE THIS...
We'll cover each of these steps in more detail below so keep reading to learn more, but, also keep in mind that you don’t have to build your CV from scratch. A CV creator can provide you with a free CV template to work with, so all you have to focus on is writing a great CV. 😉
Now... Lets dive into the in-depth content.
Ever wondered why someone in the UK applies with a CV and yet in America its with a resume? And why do Australians apply with both? There are a few differences between the two types of job application documents.
What Is A CV?
A Curriculum Vitae, or CV as it is more commonly known, is an in-depth, two or more pages, summary of an individual’s professional and educational history used in the process of applying for job vacancies. CVs are the first things a potential employer will see as part of this process.
What Is A Resume?
A resume is a brief document classically no longer than one page as the intended the reader will not dwell on it for any great length of time. The aim of a resume is to allow an individual stand out from their fellow applicants; the competition!
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A CV AND A RESUME?
The main differences between a CV and resume are the length and format of the document, the amount of detail in the content, and the overall intended purpose. A resume being a brief summary of skills and experience usual condensed in a single page, and a CV being much more in-depth stretching two to three pages in length.
The idea of a resume is that it can and will be tailored to each position whereas a large proportion of a CVs content will stay put and any changes will predominantly be in the covering letter and highlighted key skills section.
HOW DO YOU STRUCTURE A CV?
Your CV is the first thing an employer will see when you apply for their job vacancy, and in most cases, how it looks at first glance will determine if the employer decides to read it in more detail or not.
They’ll be asking themselves as they look at it, does it look organised or cluttered? Is it too short or too long? Is it boring or does it scream out “Read me!”?
To give yourself the best possible chance of standing our from the crowd and enticing the employer into read your CV in more detail, our tips on how you should structure your CV should be as follows:
How should I structure a CV in 2021
1. CV Length
Keep it brief and easily read by using clear spacing and bullet points. – two sides of A4 will almost always suffice.
2. Font Choice and Font Size
Choose something professional, clear and easy to read such Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman with font size between 10 to 12, although your name and the section headings can be a little larger (size 14 or 16) and/or bolded.
Whichever you choose, avoid fonts like brush script or cooper black, that will make you CV look more like its fit for a comic or magazine rather than a job application.
3. Clear & Chronological Lay out
The layout of your CV should be in a logical order, with sufficient spacing and clear section headings.
Where you are listing items that include dates, for example work and educational history, make sure you lay these out in chronological order; starting with the most recent items first in the list.
4. Spelling & Grammar
Check your grammar and spelling thoroughly... and then check it again!
WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN A CV?
Not all CVs look the same. You may decide to include only some of these sections because others do not apply to your work history or your industry.
Include what seems appropriate for your area of expertise. But generally speaking, most CV include the following:Throughout this CV content section to our guide we will use an example Admin CV template to help demonstrate examples of each component. If you’d like to download this example CV template to work alongside our guide you can download it using the button below.
What Contact Information Do I Add At The Top Of A CV?
It’s not uncommon for people to forget this part of their CV altogether, simply writing the title of their CV as Curriculum Vitae only.
Likewise, some of the most common mistakes in CV writing are related to what people include in their contact information, so pay close attention to this section.
Here are some dos and don’ts of resumes to keep in mind:
- Add your personal information, such as marital status, nationality or religious faith.
- Include a head shot photograph of yourself
Example CV Contact Information
What To Write In A CV Personal Statement?
A study revealed that on average recruiters spend just under 9 seconds looking at your CV . So, similar to the way someone can quickly pass you by when using apps like tinder, use your Personal Statement (sometimes called Profile or Summary) section of your CV to really sell yourself and give the recruiter a reason to read on.
In one or two sentences, summarise who you are, your work experience and relevant skills, aiming to prove why you’re suitable for the position. Keep this strong and simple.
Example CV Personal Statemetnt
How To Add Key Skills On A CV
The "skills" section of your CV is a place where you can show your strengths and individuality. Start by stating each of your key skills as a bullet point that are most relevant to the role you are applying for.
Then back it up with a short account of how you learned that skill or why you believe you have it. Make these entries short, keeping to two- to three-lines clear straight to the point text.
This can often be a great place to add value to you CV by including things like computer software names you have proficiency in.
Example CV Key Skills
How To Add Your Employment History To A CV
This section shows when and where you have worked. Covering specific accomplishments you’ve made during each of the jobs you held.
Listing your relevant experiences in reverse chronological order, include your job title, the name of the employer, time in the position, and a few key responsibilities.
Rather than focusing too much on what responsibilities were in your previous roles, show what you achieved there and some of the skills you developed. A job title is enough to show an employer roughly what you did, but it doesn’t necessarily show your achievements.
Should I avoid gaps in my CVs work experience?
Whether it’s through choice or forgetfulness, some people leave previous jobs off their CV; resulting in a gap in their employment history.
Even if you were a stay-at-home parent for a while, include it. If a potential employer has to guess how you were spending your time during your employment gaps, they’ll likely suspect the worst.
Example CV Employment History
How to Write Achievements in a CV’s Employment History Section
Here are some simple methods of how best to include your achievements in your CV’s employment history section:
- Led a team of sales and marketing executives in a promotional campaign resulting in exceeding the company’s annual sales targets.
- Redesigned the Facebook business page which generated new customer leads resulting in increased profitability.
And remember, don't worry whether your experiences are "good enough", employers admire people who have worked hard in a variety of positions.
How To Add Your Education Information To A CV
Placing the most recent first, list your educational experience and achievements in this section of your CV, Include the school attended, dates of study, the type of qualification and/or the grade you achieved.
You may also wish to include other vocational qualifications in this section too such as HGV driving license or Microsoft Certified Engineer etc.
Example CV Education History
A CV's Additional Information Section
In this section you can list various additional things that may be relevant to your application and help you to stand out. For many within this section they include their hobbies and interests.
You don’t always need to include hobbies and interests in your CV but mentioning relevant ones could back up your skills – not to mention give you something to talk about at an interview.
Other options of what could be included in this section are:
Publications and Presentations: List any publications (digital or traditional media) you have written, co-written, or contributed to. You should also include any publications you are currently working on. Include any conferences you have presented at; listing the conference name and location, and the date you presented.
Professional Memberships: Include any professional associations that you are a current member of. Likewise, if you’re a board member of any professional body, also list your title.
Example CV Additional Info Section
WHAT KEYWORDS SHOULD I INCLUDE IN MY CV?
Deciding on what keywords to use within your CV can be a bit of challenge, especially if you’re not someone who has a strong vocabulary.
Generally speaking, the best types of words to use are predominately action verbs.
Action verbs help describe the skills you've highlighted to employers in your CV. Having an action verb at the beginning of a line in your bulleted list also helps keep the descriptions of each, short, yet powerful.
Appropriate keywords for your CV could include:
Where Can I Get A Free CV Template?
OK we get it, even with this comprehensive how to write a CV guide, writing a great CV from scratch can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task. And even if you’ve had previous experience of writing CVs, you might still be making the mistake of using the same one for every job. That's why our expert careers advice team have produce a handy downloadable free CV template.
Download Your Free CV Template Below
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO SUBMIT A CV
When it comes to applying for a job, there are several ways you can share your CV with an employer. Make sure you're aware of these dos and don'ts to ensure your hard work is represented clearly.
Saving Your CV As A PDF
Most employers prefer to receive a CV in PDF Format . To create yours, look for the "Save as PDF" or "Print to PDF" option in your word processing software, such as Microsoft Word. Review the file carefully to make sure any text and spacing formatting you added has been preserved in the PDF version of the document.
Emailing A CV
When emailing a CV, you will likely be asked to send it as an attachment. Review the job listing carefully to see if there is a preferred format; most likely, employers will ask for a PDF.
At Diverse Employment, we will accept CVs in many file formats, however, as with most UK recruiters, we generally prefer Word file formats such as .doc or .docx, and PDF files.
Printing Your CV
As many of our interview guides indicate, it's a good idea to have printed copies of your CV on hand when you go on interviews.
Start with a well-formatted document and make sure it has been proofread.
You also want to make sure it's the same version that you submitted as part of your application. Use a high-grade quality paper rather than regular cheap office paper; it will create a much better impression. Make sure your printer has fresh ink and then print a test run to check for any errors or inconsistencies.
Lastly, remember, only print on one side of each piece of paper.
HOW TO WIDEN THE REACH OF YOUR CV
By using the advice found in this guide, you will know how to create a great CV to apply for any job. But wouldn’t it be great if the jobs came to you?
During your job hunting, you will undoubtedly need to create numerous customisations to your CV based on the positions your looking to apply for.
Our advice here is to create a master CV that you can then use to adapt for whatever vacancy becomes available. This master CV will not only serve as the basis for different customisations, but it should also be the document you widely share through other potential job-hunting channels.
A master CV for example can form a great template to use when crafting a recruiter bait worthy LinkedIn profile. You may also wish to upload this master CV to the major UK job board such as CV Library and TotalJobs.
Your CV will already have the necessary recruiter bait content and an appealing format taken from our CV guide or CV creator - easiCV, and should help catch their attention when they’re looking to fill their vacancies.
The Bottomline: is that there are countless ways of finding a job, but almost all of them depend on having a great CV that impresses the employer reading it.
Consider Complementing Your CV With A Cover Letter
Ok according to statistics, as many as 56% of recruiters would say a cover letter to accompany as CV these days is just about redundant, a cover letter still remains one of the most important opportunities you will get to connect with an employer or hiring manager. It is the one and only opportunity you are likely to have to grab their attention and make them want to meet you instead of many of the other CVs they may have piled up in front of them.
Representing your career interests and highlighting your most relevant skills and experiences, a professionally written cover letter can say a lot about you as a person and as a prospective employee. So, you should have in mind that a prospective employer will be looking for your attention to detail.
So after hours spent crafting a great CV, just how do you write a cover letter?
Use our comprehensive guide on how to write a Cover Letter to accompany your CV:
Find out more about Diverse Employment's recruitment expertise and how our award winning recruitment services can help you find a job.
Leigh, a CPD Level 2 CV writer, is a co-founder and careers advice writer at Diverse Employment. Legh works closely with our team of recruitment consultants working on the frontline of the labour market, to ensure that all the latest employment trends and the most effective job-hunting strategies are maintained within our resources; providing you with the most up to date advice for managing your careers.