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How to get your CV right – FAST!

How to get your CV right – FAST!

Some advice on getting your CV right - in the amount of time an internal recruiter will spend reading it*.

(*On their second pass, if you're lucky!)

Here's a really quick guide to writing a CV. And for a bit of fun, we've written it so it takes you about as long to read as someone will probably spend reading your CV – and even then, only if they like what they see at first glance and think it warrants a longer look! (Their first pass will take a matter of seconds).

Sorting through a pile of CVs is a chore for an internal recruitment or HR person. They'll have a quick glance at yours. If it is clear-looking, the introduction is strong and all of your roles seem relevant and hang together, they might read it in more depth – but still pretty quickly.

Here's how to earn that second read:

1. Keep the visual layout simple

Keep it simple. Don't make the reader work hard.

Serif or flowery fonts and clever, tricksy layouts are a bad idea. Remove anything that gets in the way of simply explaining:

  • What you can do
  • Your achievements and skills
  • Where you worked and when
  • What you are like

2. Make sure the content is clear

Under your name and contact details, start with a brief summary of you can bring to a role and the skills and experience you have gained.

Then go on to your roles under the heading "Experience" or similar. List your roles chronologically, starting with your most recent first and working back in time. Clearly show dates, company names, industry and the approximate size of your past employers. This helps people to quickly get a sense of your experience. Make sure the dates align and that there aren't any gaps in your experience.

Under your roles, briefly state your responsibilities. Then, if you possibly can, write more about what you achieved than what your responsibilities were - especially for your more recent roles, where you'll want to go into more detail about what you did.

3. Length and depth

Your CV doesn't ever need to be longer than two sides of paper (two pages). If you've had a lot of roles, you need to provide detail for only about the last ten years of your career, if you have that long.

If you're new to work, list any work experience gained alongside or before education or during holidays. Employers like to see what part-time roles you've held, and whether you were able to combine education with work. Include time spent travelling and any work or valuable experiences gained while you travelled.

4. Interests and hobbies

People debate the importance of including your interests in a CV. By all means include them, briefly, if your interests demonstrate that:

You're a people person
You have passions relating to your role
You have a good balance in life
You're a high achiever (keep it brief, and don't brag!)

5. Don't...

  • Include a photo
  • Try to make your CV too wacky. Content and clarity is what's important!
  • Rush the job – make sure your CV has no spelling errors, typos or gaps in your employment history.

...and that's about as long as someone will spend reading your CV if they've decided it's worth a second pass!

If you want a longer read, we've other articles about CVs here and here – and contact us if in doubt.


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