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Effective CV Layouts

Highlight Your Strengths, Show Results

Don’t forget to include your results
Don’t forget to include your results

Don't worry too much about whether to follow a functional, skills-based, or chronological format. Instead, focus on finding the most effective way to showcase the qualities and experiences that make you a strong candidate. Although there are no hard and fast rules associated with writing a CV, these simple guidelines will give you the best opportunity to shine.

Put yourself in the shoes of the employer

Write down a description of the person the employer is looking for and use this as a blue-print for this particular CV. The more effectively you show a clear match between the skills required and those you possess, the more likely you are to succeed.

Be honest and factual

If you find it difficult to match your own experiences with the requirements of the role, perhaps it is not the one for you. A CV not only gets you through the door but will structure the interview. Providing inaccurate information will only lead to problems further down the line. In fact 86% of interviewers think that CVs are not completely truthful. Give yourself the edge and tell the truth.

Headline key skills and attributes

If a recruiter has to dig through your CV to find strong evidence of where you have proven yourself against their criteria, then you are limiting your changes of being noticed. Be sure to draw attention to your key skills and attributes in a precise and clear format.

Provide your most relevant information first

If the information contained within your CV clearly demonstrates your suitability for a role and enhances your chances of being short-listed, always include it near the beginning. The beginning of your CV should act as a hook for the reader and will impact their future perception of you.

Avoid irrelevancy

As interesting as the recent birth of your cat’s new kittens might be to you, unless it relates to the job you are applying for, leave it out. Employers will view irrelevant detail as a waste of space and will assume that you have little appropriate experience to offer.

Recent and relevant training

Including recent and relevant training highlights will emphasise your commitment to professional development and could make the difference between you and other candidates with a similar background.

Include references

These can be ‘available upon request', however, providing the details of individuals willing to speak on your behalf sends a positive message. If you are worried about potential employers contacting references before receiving their approval, let the interviewer know that they do not want to be approached until they have given you permission.

Make yourself easy to contact

Have all of your contact details easily available on page one. Make sure to include your name, address, phone (with an alternative number, if applicable) and e-mail. If you have created a particularly good personal website, then also include the website address.

Make the most of your experience and expertise

Only 8% of employers regard academic qualifications as indicators of an employees’ ability to do a job. There are obviously exceptions to this rule, such as roles that demand high academic ability (e.g. brain surgeon, physician). In general, employers see more value in a potential employee’s achievements, attitude and their ability to recognise what is required to successfully get the job done.

Keep it short

Your CV should be no more than two pages – remember quality over quantity. Don’t waste space talking about why you left prior roles, as this is sure to be brought up in the interview. Provide enough information to tempt recruiters but leave them wanting more.

Pay attention to the format, look and feel

Almost all roles now require a degree of computer literacy. Demonstrate that you understand the principles of presentation and make sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. Use a universal font such as Arial or Times New Roman and print with black ink onto a quality white A4 paper.

Always include a cover letter

For details on how to format a cover letter, please see “Cover Letters”.

Good luck!

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