How to write a great CV

How to write a great CV

How to write a great CV

Applying for a job? Follow our complete guide to writing the perfect CV and hugely increase your chances of getting hired.

Putting together your ideal CV might seem like a daunting task, but with our shiny student CV template and top tips on what to include, you’ll be able to write one that wows employers from beginning to end.

Get yourself comfortable and go through this guide (we’d recommend grabbing a cup of tea and some biscuits first) and by the end, you’ll be looking at a prime example of a student CV, with your name at the top.

How to write a CV for students

When writing your CV, things will be a whole lot easier if you prepare beforehand. We’d suggest you start by jotting down your past jobs and notable achievements in a list – this will help you identify the points that are worth mentioning, and what’s not quite impressive enough to include.

Your CV shouldn’t be longer than two pages, and you need to work on making it well structured, concise, and different enough to grab the recruiter’s attention.

But you also need to be careful about over-embellishing certain things and going overboard in an attempt to stand out from other candidates. There’s a balance, and it’s just a matter of finding it. You can always look at some student CV examples to get some inspiration.

What do employers look for in a CV?

Never send off the same generic CV to multiple recruiters. Each time you apply for a job, think about what the employer is specifically looking for and write your CV with them in mind.

Tailor your CV to the job

Most people think that once you’ve got a CV sorted, the job’s done and you can use it for every job application. While this is true to an extent, you should also try to adapt your CV and experience to demonstrate that you’re right for that specific job.

This doesn’t mean you have to craft a brand new CV from scratch for every single job application but have a think about what specific experience or skills would impress that employer and make sure these are prominent in your application.

Also, be sure to do your homework on every company you apply for. Each business is unique, so take the time to research their website, their social media accounts, the job ad, and maybe even look up current employees to see how the company’s structured.

Aim to be the perfect candidate

Employers will be looking for certain traits in a new employee, so the ‘perfect’ candidate will vary from one vacancy to the next.

However, while it can be down to specific skills or relevant work experience, there are a number of key personal qualities and skills that employers are always hunting for.

Best skills to include on your CV

  • Self-management (including time-keeping)
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Customer care
  • Academic and extra-curricular achievements
  • IT skills
  • Commitment and enthusiasm.

What is the best CV format?

When starting your CV, think about how best to arrange your experiences so the employer can easily understand and follow what you have to say. The two most popular formats are reverse chronological and skills-based.

Both have their advantages, and the choice is yours.

Skills-based CVs are usually best when applying for roles you don’t have a lot of previous work experience with – they allow you to emphasize how the skills you’ve gained are transferable to this role.

chronological CV is best if you’ve got a lot of work experience and/or education in the field that you want to show off.

Whichever you choose, make sure it all fits onto two A4 pages.

Reverse chronological CV

This is the most common type of student CV. Here are the best ways to write a reverse chronological CV:

  • List your previous work experience/qualifications in chronological order, with the most recent at the top.
  • Explain what you learned and achieved in those roles. Be as specific as possible and focus on results.
  • Highlight skills as you go along or summarise them at the end (though if you find yourself repeating the same skills, you might be better off with a skills-based layout).

The format is quick and easy to put together, but please note that it can look generic and draw attention to any gaps that you have taken out of work.

Skills-based CV

These tips will help you write the perfect skills-based CV:

  • Emphasize your skills first
  • Pick the top five skills for the job you’ll be applying for, then choose two or three examples for each skill from a range of situations including education, work, and other activities
  • Then, list your work experience and qualifications, with years and a brief summary of key duties or achievements.

This type of CV can help you target the job description directly, but try and keep your examples as specific as possible so it doesn’t become vague.

What to include in your CV

Follow these five key steps to best demonstrate your skills and ability throughout your CV:

  1. After giving your contact details, we’d recommend following it up with a brief personal statement to explain yourself in a nutshell (one or two sentences max).
  2. Under the headings of education and employment history, including any relevant experience from the past few years.
  3. For each, include a key example or two to show what skills you learned or what you achieved. Don’t just say that you developed skills, but explain how e.g. “I managed the social media accounts for the student newspaper and by developing more engaging content I increased our followers by X%” is better than saying “I developed skills in social media management”.
  4. Go back to the job description and try to directly link your examples to this. Look at the key skills employers are seeking and think about how you can demonstrate you have those.
  5. Add any wider personal interests at the end to help convey your character and personality.

Courtesy / Credit: Save the Student

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