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how to write and layout a cv

Your CV is one of your most important selling tools and represents you. It will be used to help you secure an interview and it is also a chance to make the right impression with a prospective employer. Therefore make sure you get it right – employers review a number of CVs and you need to make yours stand out.

When writing a CV, content is paramount but so is how you present the information - it is therefore worthwhile to invest time into producing a professional CV.

When sending your CV, unless told not to, you should include a covering letter (here's our tempate ). In this letter you should explain which vacancy you are applying for, where you have seen the vacancy advertised and an overview of why you should be considered. But don't just repeat all the information that's in your CV.

If you are sending a speculative CV, write a short note explaining what kind of position you are interested in. For more information on covering letters, click here.

Your Select consultant has vast experience of how to write a CV and will advise you individually on CV content and layout, however in this section we have given a few initial pointers.

Presentation

Presentation is vital so remember to:

  • Use only one typeface
  • Use bullet points where possible
  • Keep the layout clean and organised
  • Limit your CV to a maximum of two sides of A4 – employers are busy and you shouldn’t over elaborate
  • Print your CV with black ink on white paper. Decorative borders, colours, fancy typefaces and images are not necessary
  • Double check your CV for spelling and grammatical errors and to ensure that it makes sense. It is always worth getting a friend or your consultant to review your CV before you send it out.
  • Keep it simple!

Content

When writing your CV:

  • Keep information factual and to the point
  • Give examples wherever possible to describe your skills and experience
  • Be honest – your CV represents you and if you get an interview you will have to talk through your CV
  • Provide all your work history and explain any gaps
  • Tailor your CV to each job application to highlight the most important information for that position

Layout

  • You should aim to place all the most important information (personal details, education, current job, relevant skills) on the first page.
  • Start with your personal details followed by a profile of yourself. A summary of about 50 words highlighting your strengths and qualities.
  • Include details of your education and qualifications, including names of schools and results achieved.
  • Then detail your work history in a chronological order, starting with your present/most recent job. A brief description of responsibilities and achievements in each job can prove helpful.
  • List any skills such as computer skills, foreign language, etc and any other training you may have had that is relevant to the job that you are applying for.
  • You can then list some of your hobbies and end the CV with a section for references. You do not have to provide these and it is acceptable to stated ‘available on request’

There is no such thing as a perfect CV but you must ensure that it is easy to read, structured and contains the relevant information. We have a CV template that you can use, but you can also create your own.

Checklist before sending:

  • Ensure there are no spelling mistakes
  • Use clean white paper and never send a photocopy
  • Find out the correct person to send the CV to or you run the risk of it not being received
  • Post or email your CV depending on how the employer has asked to receive it

Good Luck!