How do you write the perfect CV?

​Imagine having to sift through mounds of the same, boring, poorly written C.Vs, day in and day out.

With a significant decline in CV quality and a huge increase in competition, this is the reality of what hiring managers and recruiters have to put up with when they’re at their desks.

Make sure your CV is not one that makes them sigh and attract more interviews with these three tips for writing the perfect CV.

1. Personalise to fit the industry and role

The vast majority of C.Vs and applications and generic and largely the same, yet the types of jobs and people in the world couldn’t be more different.

When we try and fit our personalities and experience into a generic CV, we dull what makes us different and such a perfect fit for a particular role. Of course, time and effort are huge barriers to personalising your application for every single role, but this can be overcome with a little insight and ingenuity.

For example, if you’re applying for jobs in the accounting industry, you may tailor your approach around your love of finance or order or analysing and interpreting data. You may choose to display your experience on your CV in chronological order, listing your positions according to the date, and focusing on numbers to show how you think and the impact you had in your roles.

2. Covering the five basics

Although there’s not one perfect structure, strong CVs tend to follow a similar format. This includes a header, professional summary, work experience section, education, and additional experience.

The header is where contact information and other important data should go, so you want to use a bold colour and font to make it clear and stand out.

The professional summary — a brief, two or three-sentence description that encapsulates who you are and why you’re a great fit for the role — is typically what attracts the most attention. It can thus be part of your header, and should be clear and concise — avoiding buzzwords like ‘hard working’ and ‘passionate’ and focusing on the skills and accomplishments that set you apart.

A detailed work experience is important for writing the perfect CV, but more roles and explanations do not always mean better. Get the main points across with the STAR format: Situation, Task, Action, Result. Recruiters and hiring managers are not particularly interested in what you did in a previous job but rather the impact you had while you were there.

Education is, in general, not as important as it used to be. And the space you give it will be dependent on the industry, role, and your level of experience.

Similarly, the amount of weight you give to additional experience — which includes volunteering, social projects, and community work – will vary from industry to industry and role to role. However, many top employers today are looking for candidates who go above and beyond to give back to their communities and society, so this is not a section anyone should overlook.

3. Good design shouldn’t be noticed

With time and attention being scarcer than ever, the design and formatting of your CV are increasingly becoming factors that can make the difference between writing the perfect CV and writing one that never gets read.

Standard guidelines include using an easy-to-read font of at least 11 pt, adding margins of .7 inches, including sufficient white space between sections, and sticking to a subtle and non-overpowering colour theme throughout.

Designing a good CV doesn’t mean making it complex and filling it with vibrant colours; good design should make your CV quick and effortless for employers to read.

Combine all the guidelines above with experience, good writing skills, and an expert recruiter, and your CV is sure to be a winner.

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