Ready to move on up that career ladder? Dig out those CV’s, blow off the dust and prepare to brighten them up with our top ten tips.

1.Use a Clear Structure

First impressions count for a lot. If you’ve recently graduated, or have little work experience (which we all know can often mean the same thing) pop your education at the top of the page to draw attention to your academic achievements. If it’s your glittering work history which is likely to impress a recruiter give that the top spot instead.  If you’re going for a creative job, don’t be afraid to take risks with a more unconventional structure. I once knew someone who swore that writing her CV as a poem was what got her interviews to become a primary school teacher. If it works, stick to it.

2. Keep it Relevant

Although your extensive experience delivering newspapers at the crack of dawn does indeed show the resilience and dedication of your fourteen-year old self it won’t necessarily help the current ‘you’ get that dream job. You don’t need to include every detail of your past work unless it relates directly to the opening for which you’re applying. In saying that, Tip Number Three is –

3. Be Specific

Degree modules match the vacancy?  Got applicable voluntary experience? Think your skills fit the position like an occupational glove? Don’t leave it out! Employers want evidence that you are as competent as you claim to be. If you can give concrete examples that highlight your capabilities you’re one up on all the other “passionate, enthusiastic and hard-working” applicants.

Image rights; Robert S. Donovan

Image rights; Robert S. Donovan

4. Adapt Your Writing Style

It goes without saying that your CV should be free from grammar and spelling mistakes but ensure you make use of targeted vocabulary too. Here, the thesaurus is your best friend. Don’t go over the top – a few carefully-selected key words will have more impact than an overly embellished description to prove that you know what you’re about.

5. Less is More

Recruitment drives are long, drawn-out processes. Recruiters don’t want to spend more time than they have to reading through applicant CV’s. A study by job search site TheLadders.com suggested that on average recruiters look at resumes for about six seconds. It’s your job to make those six seconds the bleeding best six seconds of the lot. Without crowding your words into a claustrophobic space try to keep to a single side of A4. If you do spill over onto a second page, staple the sheets together instead of clipping them, and always keep it easy to read in a simple font.

6. Avoid Cliché

All that stuff they told you to write on your CV back in secondary school just won’t cut it in the real working world. You don’t need to big yourself up with set phrases picked from a cheat sheet – drop the wishy-washy nonsense and you’re left with the important information.

Image rights; Flazingo Photos

Image rights; Flazingo Photos

7. Do your Research

Read up on exactly what you’re applying for and tailor your CV to match. You may want to add an introductory personal statement written directly for the vacancy. This doesn’t have to be (and indeed should not be) particularly long but a line or two at the top of the page shows that this isn’t a mass-produced document.

8. Emphasise Your Strengths

This might seem obvious, but when writing your resume, don’t overlook anything which could impress a potential employer. Extra-curricular activities, leadership roles, community work – if you can make it relevant, it’s worth including it. Additional skills should also be listed such as First Aid qualifications, language or ICT skills.

 9. Keep it Fresh

If it ain’t working, it ain’t working. Don’t be afraid to overhaul what you’ve already got and try a whole new approach. Get feedback from anyone you can persuade to read it and test it yourself. Within the first thirty seconds of looking at it, can you see all the important information? Are there any obvious gaps which need filling? Have you kept it concise and relevant? If you aren’t sold then it won’t fool anyone else either.

10. Cover Letter

Summarise your CV in a brief cover letter which directly relates back to the job spec. Explain your motives for applying for this particular vacancy with this particular company, and keep it individual – a generic cover letter won’t get you anywhere.

If you’re looking for a job, why not try The Evans Review’s Job Site. 

Header image rights; Flazingo Photos

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About the author

Sian Collins

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Bibliophile, logophile, linguaphile, philomath, big fan of dictionaries and thesauri. French student, more than a little pretentious.