A well-written CV tells a story about your professional life. This story needs to convince recruiters that you are a candidate with lots of relevant credentials. Your CV can also be considered as a marketing tool which outlines your qualifications, employment history and skills. In the following article, I have highlighted some guidance on how to create a successful CV and listed 10 MORE things not to do on your CV, to complement our article: 10 things NOT to do on your CV
1. Minimal research
Prior to starting to draft your application, explore the job description to see whether you have the relevant experience and qualifications. It could be a real advantage if you have previously worked in a similar role. Most people would agree that moving within the same sector, the same job role and the same geographical area is a reasonably straightforward step. The most challenging move is the ‘career triple jump’ which means changing job functions, sectors, and countries. The more you research the role, the more you can increase your chances of writing a winning application and receiving a job offer.
2. Weak personal profile
This part is a snapshot of your application, and it should include a brief description of your skills and experiences. Make sure that you craft this section carefully and you closely link it to the job description. Do try not to include more than 5 or 6 lines. It is best to use the third person as opposed to using ‘I’.
Here is a template you can use and edit to make it suitable for your application:
A graduate professional with previous experience in the higher education sector. Experienced in delivering administrative support and coordinating marketing events. Confident user of virtual platforms and MS Office programmes. Demonstrates excellent organisational and interpersonal skills. Displays a positive outlook to all challenges, is flexible, and can manage priorities.
3. Not including your LinkedIn profile
If you have a LinkedIn profile, do include a link to your profile. Many people have outdated profiles which they have not visited for a long time. Take some time to look at your LinkedIn profile and see whether you need to update some of the information (e.g. education or work sections). It is important that your LinkedIn looks professional as recruiters are likely to look up your profile. If you have not got a LinkedIn profile, do consider setting one up. A well-written profile could boost your credibility and increase your chances of receiving interview invitations and job offers.
4. Using a CV template without making it bespoke
Even though you may be applying for several roles, it is essential that you create a bespoke CV for each vacancy. Recruiters can easily spot job applications which are generalised and do not align directly with the job description. Using a template could save you time however you need to tailor-make it to each job you are applying for. Your CV template should not include coloured fonts or an unusual structure.
Watch our CV advice webinar for top tips from experts!
5. Using ‘filler’ words
Do avoid using vague and broad language when describing your previous work roles. You might want to eliminate generalised or over-used expressions such as ‘many’, ‘lots of’, frequently’, ‘always’, ‘team player’, ‘extensive’, ‘hardworking’, ‘various’, several’, ‘different’.
6. Including GCSE and A-level results
If you have completed higher education studies and gained an under or postgraduate degree, it is best not to include details of your GCSEs or A-levels. However, if you have not completed a degree qualification or you are currently studying for a degree, it might be an idea to include these in the education section.
7. Forgetting about volunteering
Your volunteering experience could be invaluable. It could demonstrate professional skills, your commitment to make a positive difference, as well as outside interests. Many people believe that their volunteering is not relevant because the experience does not seem directly relevant to the job. Here is an example:
You have spent a year teaching English overseas after completing your university studies. You could have gained language skills and cultural awareness because of this experience. You have most probably improved your communication skills and interacted with people from a wide range of professional, cultural and geographical backgrounds. These experiences could all be helpful when applying for a range of professional roles.
8. No reverse chronological order
You will need to ensure that you list your educational, professional and voluntary experiences in reversed chronological order. A CV would normally have the following sections:
- Your name and contact details (e-mail, phone number, LinkedIn profile link)
- Profile statement (capturing your most relevant skills)
- Education (listing your higher education degrees, professional courses, and other studies)
- Work experience (highlighting your previous roles)
- Other (listing your professional associations, volunteering, additional projects, awards)
It is important that you list things from newest to oldest in the education, work and other sections.
9. Not aligning with the application form
At times, you may find that you would need to include the same information both in your application form and in your CV. As an example, you might be asked to list your previous jobs in the application form as well as submit an up-to-date CV. Do not be tempted to leave the work experience section blank in either of the documents. Make sure that the information in your CV and in your application form match closely.
10. Not asking for feedback
Whether you are starting out in your career or you have decades of work experience, you could find it helpful to ask for feedback on your CV. If you are still completing higher education studies, the careers department of your university is likely to offer some 1-2-1 support and give you further guidance on how you could improve. Many people however do not easily have access to a professional careers advisor. You could ask family members, friends or colleagues to have a look at your CV. This could help you notice mistakes you may have made or reassure you that your CV is suitable for applications.