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8 pointers for the perfect CV

We all know it's difficult to encapsulate someone on 1/2 pages of A4, but here are some of the best bits of advice we have nailing the paperwork.


1. Keep it tidy!


It seems like the most obvious thing, and yet, so often recruiters receive CVs with wonky margins, mismatched text formatting, random indents, non-uniform bullet types... just to name a few. It is the quickest turn off for a recruiter. If you don't take the time to make everything look right, how can you expect someone to take the time to look at it?


Stick to standard font sizes. Keep it clean with Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman. The old ways really are the best. Don't bold randomly. Separate the sections so it's easy to read. Be proud of the way it looks.


(As a side note, don't use sections of block colour. If a recruiter is printing your CV it will give them two things: Irritability and a damp piece of paper.)


2. Lay in, Lay in, Layout...


Don't make your recruiter go hunting for the gems in your CV. Keep it simple!


As a standard, we would recommend:


  1. Profile (A little bit about yourself. They want to know who you are and why you want the job)

  2. Education (Keep it brief. Where, What, When, How did you do? Maybe some specifics about the course - but only if it's actually relevant to the job)

  3. Work Experience (Where, What, When, What did you learn and what did you achieve? Keep it linked to the job requirements. This is your chance to impress.)

  4. Skills (Have you got any other skills? Adobe, HTML, Sage? Don't get side-tracked with generalisations. i.e. spelling, attention to detail. You want to show them the specifics.)

  5. Interests (Passion is everything. Do you love chess? Or maybe you spend your time writing poetry? Did you run a Marathon last year? Get that in here. They want to see that third dimension. You have one! We all do!)

3. Spelling it out.


It seems obvious, and yet, it is the downfall of many an applicant. Don't leave typos in you're writing... you see. It's annoying. Feel that irritation. Just remember, your recruiter is going to be just as irritated by spelling mistakes as you are right now! Don't let it be your downfall!


4. A salesman at heart!


At its most basic level, your CV is selling you! If you don't believe it, why would anyone else. You have to be confident about what you are putting on paper. You are awesome, so show it!


5. The very first question...


It's a difficult thing to do, but the way you put together your CV should allow you to predict with almost perfect accuracy the very first question every interviewer is going to ask you.


For example, do you run a business on the side. Get it out there. Then, with any luck, the first thing an interviewer will ask is: "So tell me about your business." Guess who's the world expert on that! Did you study in a strange location? Make it clear. "You studied in China? What was that like?". Setting your CV up right can set you up for interview success before you've even started.


6. Every trick in the book.


Bit tight for space? Squeeze the margins. Reduce the font size. Shrink the headers and footers. NO! Recruiters have seen every clever ruse out there and you're not going to fool them.


Be more concise! That is all!


7. Cards on the table!


Be honest from the very first word to the very last full stop. Don't try to hide things. So things didn't go quite as planned in your AS-Levels? Don't panic, and don't leave them off. Explain. If you get into an interview and you've hidden grades you weren't happy with, the first question they will ask is what did you get? Why waste valuable interview time explaining when you can be honest from the outset. It'll mean you have more time to show them that grades aren't everything and you are so much more than your education!


And as a bonus: Honesty is an appealing trait in an employee!


8. Pass, Passion, Passionate, Passion fruit... (again)


Be passionate. Simple enough right? Yes! Show your passion for something, anything! Ok, not anything. A passion for socialising won't sell you (though we all have it!). But if you can show a recruiter or employer that you have a passion for cricket, or theatre, or learning languages, or the recorder, or something at all, you have the potential to be passionate about a job, a company, and a career.


You can inspire them to make you passionate about working for them!

In summary: You are awesome, you just have to show the recruiter and the employer in a clean, well thought out and concise way.