CV writing part 1 – CV basics
- Create your CV using a universally accessible document package such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Open Office or a PDF if you’d prefer. If you’d like to use MS Word but don’t have a copy, you can use it online for free here https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/free-office-online-for-the-web . When using Word, save as .docx format (rather than .rtf or .doc to preserve your intended layout and formatting).
- Save your CV in the cloud – writing a CV from scratch can be time consuming, so in addition to saving it on your current computer or tablet, also back it up in the cloud for future use; as some people only look for new employment every few years I often hear ‘it’s on my old computer’ – save yourself the future time and trouble and save it in DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive or similar.
- Make sure it’s actually your CV you’re labelling as ‘My CV’ – I realise this sounds completely obvious, but in the last 2 weeks I’ve received a letter to a solicitor and a personal training workout plan instead of a CV when someone has applied to a vacancy online (both were called ‘Latest CV’ or similar). This is particularly true if you intend to upload your details to an online job portal (Totaljobs, Reed, Indeed etc.) so you can quickly and easily apply for positions with one click.
- Unless you work in a particularly creative industry where your CV offers an opportunity to showcase your talent for design, keep to a plain white background using black text – no graphics, background images, coloured panels, clip art or borders; the content should make the impact for you.
- Do not use headers/footers or include text in boxes – the reason for this is the content does not always ‘travel’ well, and information can go missing if you’re uploading a CV to an online job board or company application portal; as a recruiter, it’s not uncommon to receive CV’s with no contact details on as they were in the header and have vanished en route.
- Use a professional looking font (i.e. Calibri, Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet – Times New Roman is considered somewhat outdated) and ensure the layout you chose is congruent throughout – spacing, text size, indents, whether headings are underlined and in bold etc. Seemingly small details, but it’s not visually pleasing to read a CV which as a whole does not appear unified (this is very common when an existing CV has more recent positions simply added on in a hurry, without checking if it matches the existing content).
- Spelling – often overlooked (particularly when adding to an existing CV and presuming the content was correct). Your CV creates the first impression of you with a prospective employer, so it is vital that it does not suggest you don’t pay attention to detail or have a sloppy approach to tasks (which is unfortunately what spelling and common grammatical errors do). As you will undoubtedly have a spellchecker built into your word processing software, use it – check the language setting first though as many are set by default to US English. Spell checkers do not however pick up words written entirely in BLOCK CAPITALS so either avoid using these (a good idea anyway, they can come across as a bit shouty) or triple check them yourself if you wish them to remain. Similarly, company and proprietary product names will probably not be recognised, so you should verify the spelling from a reliable source (the company website for example) and then add the words to the dictionary; it is incredibly poor form to incorrectly spell the name of a previous employer or products you have sold and again, infers a general lack of care.
In part 2, Personal Details