Looking for CV tips? Have you felt confused about what to include and how to make it look professional? Many people put off applying for jobs as they are not sure about how to create a successful CV. The following article will answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
1. Do I need to include my GCSE results in the CV?
If you have completed higher education studies and gained an under or postgraduate degree, you might wish not to include your GCSEs. However, if you have not completed a degree qualification or you are currently studying for a degree, it might be a good idea to include these in the education section.
2. How do I keep my CV to two pages?
Most people would agree that keeping your CV to two pages is ideal. You might however struggle to fill two pages if you have had only a couple of jobs before. In this event, do aim for at least a one-page CV highlighting your skills and background. Those with significant professional experience could find it challenging to condense their experience into 2 pages. You might find it helpful to list your previous jobs from the last 10 years only (as opposed to all your previous work experience). Do ensure that you list your educational and work experience in reverse chronological order.
3. What if I have taken a break from working?
You may have had a maternity break, had caring responsibilities or spent time travelling. As a result, there might be a gap in your professional experience. In this case, you could briefly explain the reason for the gap and go back more than 10 years in your work experience section (if needed).
4. What is most relevant in my CV?
Do take a look at the job description and the selection criteria for each job you are applying to. Once you have read these, you should be able to understand what skills and experience might be most relevant. At times, however, you might come across some brief job descriptions/ selection criteria which do not give you a clear outline of what is most relevant for the recruiting organisation. If you need any clarification, you could contact the HR department and ask for further information.
5. What do I need to include?
Once you have looked at the job description and the criteria, you could think about how you meet them. It is important that you tailor each CV according to the job you are applying for. Avoid submitting applications in a hurry and do take the time to draft quality applications. 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)
6. What do I not need to include?
Unless it is a requirement, you do not need to include the names and contact details of your referees. Do list your hobbies and interests only if they are relevant to the job you are applying for. It is best not to include a photo. When listing your responsibilities in your previous workplaces, do aim to be succinct. Instead of detailing a long list of your tasks, do select 5-6 of the most relevant ones. If you send your CV via online platforms, it is best not to include your personal address.
7. What if I duplicate the info in my CV and 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 your application form. Some applicants assume that recruiters can refer to their CV for previous job details. If the recruiter asks you to submit your work or educational details in your application form as well as in your CV, do take the time to meet their requirements. Be honest when describing your experience, skills, or background.
8. How can I stand out from other applicants?
Do look at the job description and the criteria first. Do you think that your academic background would be the most relevant to the position? If so, place the ‘education’ section towards the top of the CV. Do you consider your work history to be an excellent fit for the position? You might find placing your work experience section towards the top helpful.
9. What if I want to change my career?
If you would like to change sectors and step into a brand-new role, you might find it helpful to highlight your transferrable skills. Transferrable skills are important because they demonstrate your ability to do the job even if you have not done it before. These can highlight your potential to be successful in your new role. Some transferrable skills you might find relevant: effective communication, flexibility, problem-solving, data analysis, critical thinking, ability to work under pressure, organisational skills, problem-solving, IT skills.
10. What are the most common mistakes to avoid?
Cramming too much into a CV is a common mistake. The more clear, structured and bespoke your CV is, the more likely that you will receive an interview invite. You must avoid grammar and spelling mistakes because your CV could be quickly disregarded. Do avoid using unprofessional e-mail addresses or coloured fonts. It is essential that your CV looks professional. Many recruiters only take a few moments to scan through your application files.
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’, and ‘different’.
Think of your application as a marketing tool. The purpose of your CV is to give your future employer a taste of your skills, background, and experience. The more time you can devote to polishing your application files, the more you will increase your chances of receiving an interview invite and landing a brilliant new job.
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