Adapted from a post by Rachael Blundell for the QMUL Jobs Blog
- Write a one sentence profile
Did you know that employers sometimes only have 10 seconds to look at your CV? Writing one sentence about who you are and what you are looking for can attract their attention so they will continue reading. This will ensure your CV doesn’t immediately end up on the unsuitable pile.
- List any previous work experience, paid or unpaid, in reverse chronological order
This means starting with the newest first. An employer wants to see what experience you have and whether it is relevant to the position. It is best to set it out this way so that the employer can see ‘your story’. Do include any voluntary work you have done as this highlights further employability skills.
- Underneath each job title list anything you achieved whilst you were in the role
As a recruiter I don’t need to know that part of your daily duties are to make a cup of tea for your boss. What I am interested in are your achievements in each job and what transferable skills they can bring to this role. For example ‘At University I worked in a group to achieve a 2:1 in a group presentation’ shows that you have experience of working in a team and can achieve goals.
- Adapt your CV to the job description or person specification
This is easy to do if you are applying for a specific role. Try and mention everything it says in the person specification on your CV. For example when it says ‘Ability to prioritise a varied workload and meet deadlines – Essential’ you could address this by saying ‘Adhered to assignment deadlines at university whilst working part time at H&M’.
- Condense or delete irrelevant grades
This is a common occurrence – secondary school grades taking up a whole page because you feel like you don’t have enough experience to make your CV long enough. You can have a one page CV – it’s OK. Just bear in mind that an employer might not be interested in the fact you got an A for Child Development GCSE when it was five years ago and irrelevant to the position.
- Get rid of references
If an employer wants to contact your references they will do so after the job offer stage. Unless you are filling in an application form that specifically asks for them, delete them and use the space to list more achievements.
- Only include interests if they are relevant to the job
It sounds like common sense but including ‘I like shopping’ when applying to a data analyst position is not relevant and it doesn’t show any transferable skills. ‘I like building websites in my spare time’, however, would be more suitable.
- Use the same formatting and font throughout
This shows consistency and attention to detail. It makes CVs much harder to read if paragraphs are in different fonts or sizes. Use a sensible font like Times New Roman, Calibri or Arial.
- Make use of online advice
There's so much advice out there (like this post!), so be sure to use it. If you're a University of London student or recent graduate and you haven't already, check out our CV resources in CareersTagged.
- Ask others for help
Get as many eyes on your CV as possible before you use it. Ask colleagues, friends, and family for their input, and if you're a current student (or a recent graduate), make use of the university careers service available to you.