There is a delicate balance between over-selling and under-selling yourself when it comes to writing your C.V. On one hand, you will no doubt want to include all the achievements you are proud of and show off your skills to spark the interest of your new employer.
However, it’s human nature (especially in the UK!) to avoid coming across arrogant, and therefore we tend to take a much more modest approach when it comes to talking about ourselves.
1. Write a Top-Notch Personal Summary
Planning out your C.V. is very important, especially as there are a variety of elements to a C.V. and each part has it’s own reason for being there. Your personal summary is about you, and what you see your main skills as being. Are you an “experienced administrative assistance with over 5 years’ experience” or a “recent English graduate with a 2:1 honours’ degree from the University of Bristol”? This opening line is your potential employers first impression of you.
Your personal summary is the first thing your employer will see, so make sure you stand out. In fact, according to an article in the Independent, employers take less than 1 minute to make their mind up about a C.V. So starting strong has many advantages, but bear in mind that this doesn’t have to mean using fancy words or including every skill you have, but rather summing yourself up in a sentence.
Don't Overdo It
After the initial introduction, you can expand on your skills, what experience you’ve gained and what you are looking to pursue now. However, don’t include too much here, as the rest of your C.V. will cover most of these bases.
Don't Talk Yourself Down
If you are just entering back into work, or are a student looking for on their first job, then you might feel somewhat intimidated by the personal summary. However, there is no need to be! The experience you have gained before your break from work, the skills you’ve picked up from life and the achievements you’ve gained in your studies can all be included.
2. Stay Relevant
Whether you are studying for an exam or writing your C.V. one of the key things to remember is to stay on track. Think of your C.V. as a question that your potential employer is asking you; why do I want to employ this person? Is it your skills, qualifications or passion for the role you are applying for? Are you keen to work in that sector and want to gain more experience? Consider the job you are applying for and try to avoid adding in extra information which isn’t necessary.
Of course, this can be trickier if you are applying for more than one job; which is why editing your personal summary (and creating a unique cover letter) for each role is a great idea. With your main achievements (school grades, main job roles and qualifications) in the body of your C.V, you can adapt the rest of it to suit the role you are applying for.
3. Be Professional But Still Be Yourself
Being “professional” sounds like an obvious statement when it comes to writing your C.V. However, when it comes down to the small things such as spelling and grammar, they could cost you more than you might imagine. In fact, a whopping 1/5 of employers would discard a resume after just one spelling mistake according to HR Morning, with a further 28% throwing out a C.V. after two spelling errors. Reading over your C.V. and asking a friend to read it through is an excellent idea before submitting it for a job role, and it can not only highlight spelling errors but also help you improve on your C.V. to make it the best it can be.
Don’t forget that being professional is also about being honest and being yourself. Embellishing too much on past achievements can set you up for a fall in the long run, but at the same time being very casual can often put employers off. Use formal language but retain a friendly approach by writing in first person and including a brief summary of your hobbies at the end. The last thing which can give way to unprofessionalism if a “quirky” email address; keep it simple and professional!
4. Avoid the Buzzwords and Cliché Phrases
With millions of people applying for jobs every day, it comes as no surprise that there are certain phrases and words which tend to come up often in C.V’s. These common words and phrases sometimes have good reason to be there (after all, who doesn’t want a “hard-working team player” for an employee?) but when employers see the same phrase over and over again, it can often appear disingenuous and quite frankly, it can get a bit boring. Try to justify why you are a “team-player” or in what ways you are “passionate” about that job sector.
According to an article in The Sun, words such as “motivated”, “initiative”, “social”, “organised” and “friendly” are among the most overused words in C.Vs across all job sectors. Be sure to stand out by finding new ways of phrasing overused sayings, using personal yet professional language and backing up your claims with evidence of your skills and abilities.
Writing a CV which will show off your attributes and make you stand out (without seeming boastful) can be tricky. By starting with your personal summary and demonstrating why they should hire you, you are already off to a great start. Staying relevant throughout is a must, especially as CVs which are over 2 pages long are often discarded.
Reading over your CV is a must to avoid spelling errors or grammatical mistakes, as well as making it the best version possible. Finally, add some personality to your CV so you stand out from the crowd and bag your dream job!
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