How to write a CV? We have all asked this question at some point, especially when job hunting. Your CV is one of the essential elements for a job interview; after all, it is what gives your potential employer their first impression of you. Follow our guide on how to write a CV and create the best CV possible for your experience, skillset and the applied-for job role.
What Is A CV?
A CV (curriculum vitae) is Latin for 'course of life', which in essence is a document that provides an overview of your skills, work experience and academic achievements. Additionally, you can sprinkle in your personality by including a personal profile and hobbies.
However, don't be tempted to describe your entire life to the recruiter; they do not have the time or patience for that. A CV is 1-2 pages long and is a snapshot of your academic and professional life. Keep it concise and relevant (no need to mention your first high school crush).
What To Include In A CV?
Recruiters are pros at scanning CVs and deciding whether or not someone is suitable in a matter of seconds. Knowing what to include can help bag that next job and before you know it, you can buy all the chicken nuggets in the world.
The basic components that make up a good CV are:
Include your full name, email address, contact number (can be mobile, home or both), and home address.
You are probably thinking: 'woah! That's my personal information, why should I put that on my CV?'
Depending on the employer, some may require a candidate to have a permanent address or will need to know where you are located. If you are still unsure then include the city or town where you live instead.
This part is the golden introduction to your CV and yourself.
It is important to tailor this to the job at hand. For example, if you are applying for a shop assistant role, express your passion to help customers or to develop your experience in a retail environment.
This section should be no longer than 5-6 sentences, so no waffling! If you want to avoid clichés or need some fresh ideas, we have a handful of CV examples for you.
Look through the job advertisement and write down all the skills they require. Afterwards, scan through and see what ones are relevant to you and include it on your CV.
Please, no lying! If you say you are advanced with Microsoft Excel (who is?) then make sure you follow through with this statement.
Another tip: whenever you list a skill, add a quick example of when you demonstrated this. That will really impress the employer.
Knowing what to put in your work history can help list it in a concise and informative way. Commonly, most people include their work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent first.
How do you list all this employment information? Keep it simple for the recruiter and layout your experience in this manner:
- Name of company (including duration i.e 2017-2019)
- Name of role
- List of achievements and duties covered (keep it relevant!)
Do you not have work experience? Then fear not, further down the page we have some helpful tips to guide you with writing a school leaver CV.
This is the opportunity to list your grades and certifications! Again, keep it relevant and do not feel like it is necessary to include every single grade. Similarly to your work experience, list your work education in reverse chronological order.
Are you unsure what to write because you still haven’t received the grades you have listed? No need to worry, you can also put your predicted results!
You may feel like as a student it is a little too early to list achievements on a CV, but you couldn’t be more wrong.
Think back to anything you have achieved or participated in at school...still nothing? No need to worry, in our CV Examples we have listed a few ideas!
Mentioning your interests allows your personality to shine through. As much as it is true, it’s best not to put: socialising with friends or spending copious hours on Fortnite. Try and avoid clichés like 'reading' (if you are applying for a journalism role or something similar, then highlight your passion in creative writing) and if you are still struggling to decide what are the best hobbies to put on a CV then check out this list below...
- Learning a new skill in your spare time (e.g. coding)
- Blog writing
Wondering what references are? They are people nominated as referees who are happy to testify about your character, attributes and anything you may have mentioned on your application.
Wondering who can be a reference on your CV? Unfortunately, it cannot be your mother, but these below are more suitable examples to put on your CV.
- Former Employee
However, on your CV you can simply write 'references available upon request'.
How To Write A CV With No Experience?
If you have recently left school or yet to acquire work experience, then you might be a little worried. Don't be! Below are some tips to help you tailor your CV to make you stand out from the crowd still.
Tailor your CV to the job description
Carefully look through the job advert, pulling any keywords or requirements they have specified. Are they looking for someone with teamwork or attention to detail skills?
If so, you can easily use your academic experiences too. Group projects might be a nightmare for some, but the skills you can gain are highly beneficial. Include these preferences in your personal profile and skillset list.
Let your personality shine
By not having an employement section on your CV gives room to add more glorious information. List further achievements you've made during school or your personal interests and hobbies.
Despite a high percentage of employers favouring candidates with work experience, they also prefer candidates who are suited for the role too. This means you can look through their values and demonstrate your similar values.
Add a cover letter
Increase your chances by adding a cover letter to your application. This is the chance to display your passion for the job, including reasons why and how are you best suited for the role.
Some candidates may not bother attaching a cover letter so you can remain one step ahead of the game. Look through our cover letter samples to get inspired!
What Key Skills To Include In A CV?
A recruiter can scan through a CV in less than 6 seconds before deciding if the candidate is fit for the job. That’s why placing your skills at the very top of the page is crucial for employers to know if you’re the right one or not.
Ideally, it is best to have a combination of soft and hard skills as this demonstrates your technicality and how you are as a person.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are a combination of people, social and communication skills, including character traits too. If you feel like you are lacking in technical skills, then harness your soft skills in to show the employer you are a well-rounded individual.
What are good examples of soft skills to put in your CV?
- Time management
- Positive attitude
- Strong work ethic
- Highly motivated
What are technical skills
Technical skills are having the ability to perform a specific task at hand. This type of skill is normally taught or gained from previous experience.
What are good examples of technical skills to put in your CV?
- Data analytics
- Social media
- Project management
Below is an example using our very own StudentJob CV Builder. This gives you an idea of how a professional CV layout should look like. Add your personal style in a simplistic way and employers will certainly notice yours from the pile.
You can take away these CV templates and also use them for the future! Traditional CVs layouts have very much remained the same for years and are not expected to change any time soon.
Different Types Of CVs
Of course, there is not just one type of CV, there are several! Here we list a few and the subtle changes they have. Need visual inspiration? Check out our CV Examples here.
School Leaver CV
GCSE's are almost over and looking for a first job finally dawns on you. Writing a school leaver CV is ultimately the same as writing one with no work experience. Emphasise on your soft skills, highlight any achievements made and list your education in reverse chronological order. Haven't received your GCSE results yet? Mock results are fine. Do not worry about having any experience. You will find some jobs will specify that no experience is needed as training is provided.
Hopefully, you have gained some work experience and if you have; include it! List any key responsibilities and achievements from your employment too.
The graduate labour market is very competitive, so getting your CV noticed among hundreds, possibly thousands of others is not easy! A graduate CV will be expected to have more technical skills placed and is an opportunity to dig into your previous work experience. At this particular stage, your CV will have to be two pages long (unless specified) so include all the relevant information! Mention those gap years, skills and extracurricular activities you have taken at university.
What Not To Include On A CV?
We have spoken enough about what to include in your CV, but it helps to know what CV mistakes to avoid.
Make sure you have checked the spelling on your CV! Use free tools such as Grammarly to help you (if you're unsure, ask someone to proofread the document).
Remember, if you say you are advanced in programming, make sure you can prove it!
Maybe you like to laugh at memes in the dead of night or enjoy that nice cup of coffee in the morning. However, if it is not relevant for the job, don’t put it in!
Not too long, not too short
If you have produced a Shakespearean play, then employers would rather spend their time reading something else! Keep it to 1-2 pages long.
Your first email address
Sorry to say it, but the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org does not belong on your CV, or anywhere in fact.
Long gone are the days of using word art and crazy fonts to make everything fabulous. Hiring managers and recruiters want something simple to read.
If you are wondering what font size and font to use on a CV then best stick to:
- Font size 12
- Arial / Calibri
Create Your Free Online CV
If you are not computer savvy or lack the experience in writing a CV then fear not. We have the perfect CV tool for you!
Why should you use our CV builder?
- The StudentJob CV Builder allows you to create a professional CV, quickly.
How? Upload your existing CV or fill in the empty fields. Choose a layout, and voila, your CV is ready and waiting.