Writing a Good CV…Where to Begin?!

Tahani#MyPlacementStory, Advice, Applications, CVs, On Placement, Tahani Baldwin, Work Experience

Job applications, am-I-right? We’ve all been there. It’s a lengthy process, and anyone who is anyone will tell you the most tedious part about applying for jobs is the application itself.

Perhaps you’ve spent the last few hours on sites like Indeed.co.uk, tirelessly searching for a job that’s right for you. You may have come across a few that seem way out of your reach, or some that feel just too underwhelming for the skills you possess. Then, low and behold, you come across one that catches your eye. Good pay, and best of all, you’ve had similar experience in a previous role. But you might ask yourself, how on earth does one write an adequate-enough CV for it? And more importantly, how can my CV stand out in the application process?

Inevitably, an employers final call on who gets the desired job is mostly down to the application. Feeling the pressure? Sure, but never fear! Below are some of the greatest tips I’ve learnt when it comes to writing CVs for any kind of working role.

And whilst you’re here, check out the Aston Futures to find job vacancies, placement opportunities and events

So much CV writing, so little time.

1. Study the job description.

Okay, I don’t mean actually study it.

Most job offers will come with a separate section/document that details the responsibilities of the position you’re applying for. For instance, what your daily tasks are, or what you area of work is. Seems pretty straightforward enough, but most job descriptions will also list the type of skills potential employers are looking for. These can be anything; from having good IT skills and time management to being able to balance deadlines and good team-working abilities. Others will even go as far as to name the type of necessary or desirable work experience for the applicant. An employer offering a position in hospitality might ask what previous experiences you’ve had in that sector, for instance.

If you’re unsure of where to begin with the application process, start from the job description. Ensure you have a thorough read of it, and make sure that it’s still the one you want to go for.

2. List previous experiences, skills and positions of responsibility.

Think back to your most recent achievements. This can be anything, from voluntary experiences, small part-time jobs, or even roles you’ve had during university. For instance, being a student representative. Identify what type of skills you’ve developed from these previous roles, such as developing communication skills or good organisation, and list any positions of responsibility you’ve had. For example, being a society committee member.

Employers want to know that the applicant has had previous experience in other work sectors, so they can carry the skills learnt from that into the role they’re applying for. No matter how big or small you previous experience was, or what kind of skill you’ve gained from it, make sure you’re listing it as something additional to put in your CV.

3. Tailor your CV to the job description.

Sure, it’s great that you have so much experience working in customer service, but how does this apply to the role you’re going for? What was it about working in customer service that makes you the right candidate for the job? What key skills did you learn from that experience that you can then apply to the next one?

Anyone can list the jobs and experiences they’ve had before. However, it’s even more important to describe how exactly it’s helped you get this far, and why it will help you in your next role. And who knows? Perhaps working in customer service has enhanced your ability to verbally communicate with others, which means your team-working abilities will excel in your new role. Whatever it is, make sure any skill, experience or qualification you’ve gained aligns with what a potential employer is looking for, and make this known in your CV. (and be sure to utilise the job description here!)

4. Add your education and interests.

Make sure any qualification you’ve received is listed in your application. This can be anything from your GCSEs, A levels, your university degree etc. Be sure to also include your grades, subject, institution, and even the dates you attended these institutions. Perhaps take a step forward to list what sort of modules or projects you were a part of, and briefly describe what you did during them. This further showcases the key skills you’ve taken away from your education and how this can be applied to your next role.

Don’t forget to add an additional section for your interests! This can be a very brief descriptor of what you do in your free time, such as a sport you play, an instrument you practice, or any clubs or societies you’re a part of. It might seem like such an unrelated thing to state, given all the previous experiences and skills you’ve listed already. However, not only is it a nice conversation point during interviews, but it’s a good insight into what else you do outside of work.

5. Make it clear and concise.

Potential employers have to go through many applications, and in truth, CVs are only ever given a quick glance. Ensure that not only what you’re stating stands out, but that it’s clear, very brief, and your CV is no more than two pages long. Double check for spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes before sending it off, and use consistent formatting throughout. As a major pro-tip, use bullet-points! This will help highlight any key skills or achievements you list, as well as making everything clearer to read. As another tip, make sure you put your name at the top, in large font, centralised and bold, and place your email address and contact number below it.

Additionally, make sure you name at least two points of references at the end of your CV. These references can be anyone from your most recent employer, to your university tutor. Ensure you also list their email addresses so they’re easily contactable, should the employer reading your CV need a further reference.

6. Powerful personal statements.

This no-more-than-5-sentence section might seem totally trivial, in comparison to everything else you’ll write in your CV. But if anything, this is the first thing an employer will look at. This short section should cover the basics of who you are, what you can bring to the job in terms of the skills and experiences you’ve previously gained, and your career aims. Ensure this is directly under your contact details, and keep it factual and to the point. Your personal statement should be a very brief descriptor of what your application will entail, so avoid putting in anything that isn’t backed up by the rest of your CV.

*sighs* If looking for a job wasn’t a hassle enough, CV writing always feels like an additional chore alongside it. But if anything, CVs are a mere step towards a potential job, and following these tips enabled me to get shortlisted for every placement role I applied to. And whilst job applications are overwhelming in itself, I hope at least some of the tips provided will make the process a bit easier. You’ve got this!

Now to work on my cover letter….

Written by Tahani.