Without a doubt, a CV is the most important part of your job hunt. Although the job interview is obviously extremely important too, you will never get to that stage if your CV is not up to scratch. Your CV is the first impression a prospective employer has of you, and it is crucial to remember that for the employer, it is just one of potentially hundreds of CVs on their desk.
So the big question is: how can you make the employer pick your CV? In this blog, I’m going to impart a few bits of wisdom that I have picked up after more than a decade of management. So let’s look at a few basic rules…
How to write a CV for work in the UK
1. Avoid colourful designs
Firstly, it is not a fashion show or an art exhibition. The likelihood is that you’re applying for a professional role within a professional environment, and your CV needs to reflect that. That means no fancy fonts, no rainbow colours, and no glitter! (You laugh, but I have seen them all on CVs…)
2. Don’t add your age or picture
Only tell them what they need to know. However, when you’re just one name on a CV, amongst hundreds of others, don’t let the employer rule you out just because you’re older, or indeed younger, than the average/stereotypical employee for that job. For this reason, avoid adding information such as your date of birth, your gender, or a picture of your physical appearance. Don’t let your chances of a job disappear because the employer doesn’t like your hairstyle!
3. Pay attention to structure and formatting
Just one more thing about the look of your CV; order and structure are key. With hundreds of CVs to look at, one thing I can say from experience is that if your CV is poorly laid out, if the formatting is all over the place, or if the information is not easy to find, then you get moved to the ‘no’ pile. Luckily, this is an easy fix. All you have to do is stick to one style for your entire CV…
How to structure your CV
Ensuring that your CV has one, formal, structured layout means that any information the employer needs is easy to find. That, and it makes reading the CV a lot easier!
What to put on your CV
Ok, so now we know how it should look, what should you write? Below you’ll find a breakdown of the different sections that are normally included on a CV for those looking for work in the UK.
The first few lines of your CV should include your name, postal address, email and telephone number.
Most CVs in the UK will start off with a couple of sentences explaining what you are looking for. This is called a personal statement. Your personal statement should look something like this:
“With a degree in Cookie Production and a passion for all things crunchy, I am now looking for full-time employment in the field of biscuit production and manufacturing…”
You should list your work experience in chronological order with your most recent job first. You might also want to add what your job involved and what you achieved in your last position.
As with your work experience, you should list your most recent qualification first. If you are a recent UK graduate this will include your undergraduate degree and your A-levels. If you didn’t study A-levels, then write something like “Spanish Baccalaureate (equivalent to British A-levels)”.
Interests and Achievements
Now that your CV is starting to take shape, let’s add the little things that might slightly tip the odds in your favour. Consider adding your hobbies, interests, additional skills and qualifications, they all count. Do you play football with your friends every week? That’s a great display of teamwork and communication.
Do you enjoy doing escape rooms? Problem-solving and logic skills all round! Perhaps you once auditioned for X Factor. That shows confidence and the ability to communicate well in front of others. It doesn’t matter what you do, it is all about how you sell it to the employer!