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Job Search Tips: How do I write a compelling CV?

14 February 2023

by Hannah Keeton

The first thing you should do once you start your job search, whether you're looking for your first entry-level job or you're an executive with a wealth of experience, is to make sure you have a great CV.

Your resume is the first impression that employers will get of you and your capabilities, so you want to ensure that you stand-out from an ever-growing crowd. But where do you start when writing a CV?

You're already on the right track, by doing some research on what works best! Working with a recruitment agency will also mean you'll have a recruiter, who will be an expert in your field, that can advise on how to improve your CV moving forward.

First things first, below we've covered some frequently asked questions on writing your CV:

1.     How should I layout my CV?

When it comes to how your CV should look, less is more! The person reading your CV will focus on the most important points, clear headings, and bullet points make a CV much easier to read. Remember, white space is your friend, not your foe. A recruiter will make a decision about your CV in as little as 8 seconds, so make sure the most important points are easy to spot and read.

2.     What order should my CV be in?

Display your experience in chronological order, starting from your current role. Qualifications should follow your experience in order of the most recent and most relevant. As an example structure, you could follow the below:

  • Personal details
  • Qualifications
  • Experience
  • Hobbies & Interests
  • References

Someone planning their CV layout during their job search

4.     Can I show off my personality on my CV?

Keep your CV formal so it appeals to everyone, you can always tailor your CV for different roles. Show off your personality at the interview stage or through your personal statement if it’s required. ​(Hiring Managers will often check your LinkedIn profile when considering you for a role. Watch our webinarwhere we discuss the power of personal branding, what it means, and why it's an integral part of your career.)

5.     I have an employment gap on my CV, will this negatively impact my application?

An employment gap doesn’t have to be a negative, a simple explanation should be enough to show your commitment to your career. However, be ready to go into more detail during an interview, try preparing some answers and an explanation so you don't get caught off-guard.

6.     Should I put a Hobbies section in my CV?

Having a hobbies and interests section is optional. It is a great way for the reader to find some common ground with you, which could benefit you in the interview stage. The hobbies and interests section can also be useful if you can relate them to aspects of the job you're interviewing for, think of what soft skills your hobbies have helped you to learn. Remember, only state your true hobbies – don’t get caught out!

Someone writing their resume, ready for finding a new job

7.     How should my CV be formatted?

When sending your CV to a recruiter, it’s best to submit it as a WORD document. Alternatively, if you’re sending your CV straight to the employer, use a PDF.

8.     How many pages should my CV be?

Based on your experience, 2 – 3 pages is the best length for your CV. Remember, if you have too much information, the reader will struggle to pick out the important parts. If you're searching for entry-level roles as a graduate and you find your CV is still at 1 page once filling out all of the sections, don't worry! Your qualifications and experience will fill out as you progress your career, you can even ask the interviewer if the job comes with new learning opportunities to highlight your commitment to upskilling.

9.     Do I need to write a personal statement?

Not all applications require a Personal Statement, however you should attach one with your CV if you can. It should be a brief summary of your journey so far and tailored to each role you apply for.

There is much more to the job searching process than just a great CV. Click the image below to download our Job Search Guide:

Looking for further advice? Head back to our Blog Home Page to view more information on CV's, interviewing, and more.

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