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Better CVs Get Better Jobs – So Here’s 20 Top Tips to Boost Yours

Better CVs Get Better Jobs – So Here’s 20 Top Tips to Boost Yours

We often hear about how university graduates find it difficult to get themselves into work after they have left uni, but did you know that around 87% of the Britain’s biggest employers have vacancies waiting to be filled, but haven’t hired anyone because of the poor quality of CVs?

A study by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), a network that represents more than 750 businesses in the UK, found that the largest number of vacancies was in IT engineering and management posts, despite the number of students leaving uni with excellent grades.

It turns out that many graduates – and non-graduates, too – don’t take enough care over their preliminary paperwork like CVs, personal statements and covering letters, and too many people send out their CV in bulk, without tailoring it for a particular employer or position. Employers in the study said they do not want to read generic CV after generic CV, and applicants should not assume they will automatically get through to the interview stage just because of their grades or the school and university they attended.

AGR Chief Executive Stephen Isherwood explained that an employer’s first impression of a candidate will be through their CV and that impression really does count. “There are graduate vacancies out there and making fewer, targeted applications, rather than taking the scatter gun approach to finding a job, will pay dividends in the long run,” he said.

So, by spending a little more time on your CV, you have more of a chance of making it into the sector you wish to work in. To help you along, we have compiled a list of twenty of the best tips for writing your CV, to give you that edge over other candidates and give you more of a chance of getting your dream job.

  1. First things first, format is important. Make sure your CV is tidy and clear – don’t use messy fonts or bright colours because it looks unprofessional.

  2. Research is key. Research the role you are applying for and research the company. It is easier to show passion for a role if you know the true depths of it and what the company does. It could also help you to figure out of the role really is for you.

  3. Write in a confident tone, using positive language. Make it clear that you are ideal for the role, while avoiding arrogance.

  4. Quality not quantity. Keep it to the point – don’t just list everything you have done, especially if it is not relevant, but do focus on what you have achieved.

  5. Prioritise content. Make sure the most relevant information is available at a glance, up first, as this is more likely to capture the attention of your audience.

  6. Don’t be vague. Make sure your most relevant skills and experience stand out, and you don’t just reel off a generic list of skills about punctuality and “working well in a team”.

  7. Don’t overuse “I”, “me”, “my”, etc. The employer knows the CV is about you, and repetitive use of personal pronouns can become tedious to read.

  8. Listing other skills. If you have extra skills, such as in IT, or languages, make sure you make a note of them on your CV as it could be the deciding factor between you and another applicant.

  9. Relevant keywords. If an employer has to look over hundreds of applications, you want to make sure you have all of the relevant keywords that will make your CV pop. It is worth researching these online.

  10. Qualifications. Make sure you include details about your qualifications instead of just listing them – show your successes in project work or extracurricular activities.

  11. Interests. Only make note of activities that play to your strengths and are relevant. There is no point listing solitary, passive past-times like “watching movies” because this insinuates that you lack people skills – your interests should make you sound interesting.

  12. Figures. Numbers and stats can be important, so if you can use them, do.

  13. Email addresses. Have a professional sounding email address – not everyone gets the joke.

  14. DO NOT LIE. Be honest on your CV, don’t exaggerate or embellish on the truth, don’t say you can do or have done something if you can’t and haven’t. You will get found out and it just isn’t worth it.

  15. Referees. You only need two referees to sign your CV for you, and they should be employers who have hired you in the past. If you have never been in work, then a teacher or tutor are fine.

  16. Tailoring your CV. You don’t need to rewrite your CV every time you apply for a new job, but you should adapt the details for each role.

  17. Personal statement. A personal statement appears at the top of your CV and explains why you are the best person for the job, and should be adapted for each role, just like the CV itself.

  18. Covering letter. No more than a page long, a covering letter is used to state how you have the qualities the role calls for, contains any additional information lacking from your CV, explains any gaps, and ultimately demonstrates your writing style in a way your CV cannot.

  19. No more than two pages! Keep your CV to a maximum of two pages of one-sided A4 – no one wants to wade through pages of information.

  20. And finally, proofreading. Thoroughly check for spelling and grammar mistakes. Then check again and then again. Then get someone else to read through it for you. Even the smallest mistake could cause your CV to be rejected from the pile.

So there you have it. Of course, every company is different, but if you keep as close to these rules as possible, you will have a much better chance of getting that job. Good luck!

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