How to Write a Strong CV

We understand that writing a CV can be a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time or you haven’t applied for a job in a few years. But it doesn’t need to be.

Here are some tips to get you started writing an effective CV:

What to include:

  • Contact details
    At the top of your CV, include your full name, home address, mobile number and email address. Having these right at the start will ensure that the recruiter is able to get in touch with you easily.

  • Profile
    Start the main body of your CV with a short personal statement. This is the first thing the recruiter will see, so it’s your chance to stand out from the competition. Explain your key skills, what you have to offer, and your goals. Keep it to a few concise sentences and tailor your profile to each job you’re applying for.

  • Work experience
    After your personal statement, it’s time to get into your work experience. Start with your most recent role first and then work your way back. Include the name of the organisation, your job title, the period of time you worked there, and your key responsibilities. This section isn’t just for paid jobs, if you’ve done any volunteer or charity work, talk about that too. Be sure to highlight the key responsibilities in your current role that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for - keep checking your CV against the job description and tailor what you write to best match what they’re looking for.

  • Education/qualifications
    If you’re applying for your first job, or you don’t have very much work experience relevant to the role, place your education before work experience. Again, start with your most recent qualifications. Include any professional or academic qualifications you have, the year you received them and the grade you achieved.

  • Achievements
    If you have any achievements you’d like to highlight, and you have enough to warrant a whole section for them, then do. Including your accomplishments can be beneficial in your job application, and try to include statistics and figures where possible. If sales increased by 56% after you started managing the sales team, say it.

  • Interests and hobbies
    Talking about your interests and hobbies isn’t entirely necessary, and if doing so takes your CV onto a third (or fourth) page, take it out. However, if you have any specific hobbies that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, it could give you a competitive edge, especially if you don’t have a lot of direct work experience in that area.

How to format your CV

Be careful about how you format your CV. No matter how well suited you are for the job, if your CV isn’t easy to read and navigate, you could lose out.

  • Keep your CV to two pages
    Not only does it look neat and tidy, but staying within the two page limit will prevent you from including any unnecessary information and keep your CV succinct.

  • Reduce your page margins
    If you’ve spent a lot of time on the content of your CV, you want someone to read it. Using smaller page margins will make more of your CV visible when the recruiter first opens the document. It’ll also help you fit everything into your two pages.

  • Don’t make your contact details too big
    Including your contact details is important, but making them too big will push everything else further down the page. Just include what’s needed, and using a slightly smaller font is okay, just make sure it’s still easy to read.

  • Clearly divide each section
    Use clear headings for each section that clearly state what each is. You can also use subheadings for things such as work roles and qualifications. Make sure to drop each section down to leave a space in between. If sections are too close together, it’ll be off putting to read.

  • Use bullet points
    Using bullet points (especially when listing your key roles and responsibilities) will make your CV much more user friendly and easy to read. Large paragraphs of text, again, can be off putting, so you want to keep everything separate to make life easy for the recruiter.

Strengthening your CV

  • Check your spelling
    Incorrect spelling and grammar can be the difference between getting a job interview and losing out. Your CV is your chance to make a good first impression, so make sure you double check everything before you send it to the recruiter/employer.

  • Use active words
    Your wording can be a lot more important than you think. If you say that you “looked at data”, could you change it to say that you “analysed and interpreted data”? Use words that make you sound proactive, not passive.

  • Back up your claims
    If you list something as a responsibility (or especially if you list it as an achievement), ask yourself, “How did I achieve this? What did I have to do or overcome? What were the results?” If you can back something up with evidence, it’ll make your CV stronger.

  • Include a cover letter
    When it comes time to send your CV off and apply for a job, you might want to include a covering letter or email. This will briefly mention your key skills and experience, your aspirations, and why you’re applying for the job.

Applying for a job is never easy. It can be stressful and intimidating, but having a better idea of what you need to include in your CV can make the experience a little easier.

XCL Group are experts at helping our candidates find their perfect job. Specialising in construction, automotive, engineering, production and office & commercial, we can help take away the pain of applying for a new job and help you find not only the right role, but the right company.

If you’d like to hear about the experiences of some of our past candidates, you can read our candidate testimonials. Or if you’re looking for a job right now, apply for one of our vacancies!