Essential CV Writing Tips

Essential CV Writing Tips

6 months ago

by Annemarie Schiemann

​Make a Good First Impression with Employers

Your curriculum vitae (CV) is your personal marketing document – it’s your opportunity to leave a good first impression with potential employers. A well-crafted CV will set you apart from other candidates and show hiring managers that you’re serious about the role.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into essential tips to create an impactful CV and increase your chances of landing your dream job.

How to format your CV

  • At a glance, your CV should look neat, organised, and easy to read.

  • Aim for a CV length of 2-3 pages. Your CV should never exceed 3 pages unless you are applying for a senior-level role with extensive technical experience (such as an engineer role).

  • Include essential contact details including: your name, address, phone number, and email address. For bonus points, optimise your LinkedIn and include the link in this section as well.

  • Prioritize formatting for readability; choose a basic font like Calibri or Times New Roman in size 11 or 12.

  • Maintain clear transitions throughout your CV, using bold or italics for headings and subheadings.

  • Ensure you write in a passive 3rd person point of view.

  • Present information under subheadings in bullet point format for easy digestion.

  • In the "Experience" section, list entries in chronological order with the latest company first, using bold for the company name and position to draw attention.

Tailor Your CV for Each Application

Demonstrating your effort in aligning your CV with the job's needs sets you apart from generic applications.

  • Analyze the specific job requirements and adjust your CV accordingly.

  • Highlight experiences, skills, and achievements directly relevant to the job.

Write a Tailored Cover Note

A cover note/letter is still an essential part of your CV in 2024 for any white-collar and many senior level blue-collar applications. When including a cover note, be sure to tailor it to the company; try to avoid copy-pasting!

  • Analyze the specific job requirements and adjust your CV accordingly. One useful tip is to format your cover letter like a table; in the left-side column, copy-paste qualifications from the job posting, and in the right-side column describe how you meet those qualifications.

  • Highlight experiences, skills, and achievements directly relevant to the job.

    • Demonstrate your genuine interest in the position; try to avoid fatal clichés.

  • Cover Note Clichés to Avoid

    • “This Is Exactly the Kind of Role I’m Looking For” - redundant: you wouldn’t apply if this wasn’t the type of role you were looking for!

    • “I’m the best person for the job” - your CV should demonstrate without you having to state it directly!

    • “This job would be a dream come true” or “ever since I was a child I wanted…” - maintain professionalism – your CV is not the place to get sentimental.

Include a Personal Statement/Professional Summary

Position your professional summary directly after the header of your CV. This summary is the first thing the hiring manager will read second only to your personal information.

  • Keep your personal statement brief, consisting of 3-4 sentences.

  • Highlight key strengths relevant to the role and mention any career goals you have.

  • Aim to grab the employer's attention and provide a quick snapshot of your professional identity. Be creative!

Focus on Achievements Rather Than Duties

Highlighting your achievements in the experience section showcases the outcome of your duties, focusing on the “why” rather than just the “what”.

  • Emphasize how a mix of hard and soft skills contributed to achieving specific outcomes in your everyday duties and broader projects and tasks.

  • Quantify achievements using time-related metrics, percentages, cost savings, and project impact to provide concrete evidence of your success.

Crafting an effective CV is a strategic process that involves attention to detail and customization for each application. By following our tips, you'll create a CV that showcases your qualifications and positions you as an ideal candidate for the job.

Stand out from the competition and make your CV a powerful tool in your job search journey!

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