10 CV Writing Tips - 12 Days of Christmas - Day 3


It’s day 3 of Millbank’s “12 Days of Christmas”! Today’s post is a must-read for anyone actively seeking a new job.

When looking for a job, it’s absolutely essential to get your CV right. Without a good CV that represents your skills and experience, you’ll struggle to even get to the interview stage.

At Millbank, we see hundreds of CVs on a weekly basis, so we have pretty much seen it all in terms of CV content, style and effectiveness. So, what makes a good or bad CV? Here’s ten titbits of advice.

Keep it to a sensible length

While the length of the perfect CV varies from industry to industry, no hiring manager is likely to want to have to read through a novella for each applicant – they simply don’t have time. While some jobs call for detailed background information, it’s sensible to put all the most important information in your CV and include a more detailed appendix for reference if necessary.

Check your spelling and grammar – repeatedly

Poor spelling doesn’t just reflect badly to those reading your CV. They can also trip you up if your CV is parsed and entered into a database, where recruiters may search for specific keywords and phrases. If this is misspelled on your CV, it might not even appear in search results.

Do you really need to include a photo?

There is a trend of including a photo on CVs, perhaps to add a personal touch or stand out from the crowd. However, some people argue that a CV should be an objective document focused on skills and experience, which a photo detracts from. So, while there is an argument either way, it might be best to play it safe and forgo the photo.

Tailor your CV to your audience

There’s a decent chance that not every company you apply to is the exact same, or is looking for exactly the same kind of person. If you’re serious about getting an interview, spent some time researching the role and the company and tweak things like the skills you emphasise over others, or the wording of your summary, to match.

List your experience chronologically

In almost every business, the most important work is the most recent. Hiring managers want to know what you are doing now and most recently, so order your experience from newest to oldest.

Use formatting to make it readable

As previously mentioned, hiring managers don’t have a lot of time to read every CV, so make the job as easy as possible by making your CV readable. Use clear headings and bullet points so the most important information can be scanned through quickly.

Send a standard, compatible file

At Millbank, we prefer to deal with Word documents in the CVs we receive as these are easier to process. PDFs are also common, but we have seen CVs which are clearly printed then scanned into a PDF, making them hard to work with or send on to clients. It’s best to avoid too many tables and unusual formatting so the document is legible not only to humans, but to the systems that inevitably process CVs.

Keep it up to date

When it comes to your CV, don’t rest on your laurels. Even if your job title hasn’t changed for a while, if you’re looking for something new, review your CV and add any new skills or qualifications you’ve gained, or significant projects you’ve been involved with.

Talk about your personal achievements

Try not to come off as too passive in your current or previous roles. To do this, avoid writing a list of responsibilities. Instead, talk about how your work has actively benefited your company or its clients directly. Numbers and figures are very powerful on any CV.

Be direct in your personal statement

Your personal statement is your chance to speak directly to the employer. Use it to tell them not just who you are but what specific skills and experience you would bring to the role. If you research the role and company and align what they need with what you could bring, you are sure to stand out as long as this is put across well in your personal statement.

Check back throughout December for the remaining “12 Days of Christmas” from Millbank!

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