When you’re on the hunt for a job, your CV is often the only chance you get to make an eye-catching first impression. With employers usually having to sort through dozens (sometimes hundreds) of job applications, mediocre CVs are usually thrown on the trash heap immediately.

Read on to learn how to write a CV that will outshine the rest!


Creating the perfect format

The format of your CV is the first thing that potential employers will notice, so it’s vital that you pay proper attention to it. Strive to make sure that your CV looks clean and professional. Here are a few tips:


  – Keep it concise

Employers normally won’t have the time or inclination to properly read a CV that is more than a few pages. A good rule of thumb is to keep your CV at two pages long, although for certain professions (such as accounting or engineering), you may need to stretch it to three pages.

  – Font

Steer away from using flowery or cartoonish fonts such as Sago or Monotype Corsiva. Keep it simple with clean, modern fonts such as Calibri or Arial, in size 12.

  – Headings

Start each section of your CV with a bold heading to make for easy reading and referencing. You can also use lines underneath each section to separate them clearly.

  – Spelling and Grammar

Spelling and grammar errors are an absolute no-no. Make sure that all your grammar is correct: errors in these areas show sloppiness.

  – Borders

You don’t have to add one, but a simple, straight-lined border can give a professional look to your CV. Keep your border width at 1.5 points or less: any thicker and you’ll detract attention from the body of the CV.

  – Saving the document

The way your CV is saved on a computer is an aspect that is often overlooked. Saving in Microsoft Word can result in format changes when opened on other computers, so rather choose to save your CV as a PDF file.


What to include in your CV

Now we get to the really important part: the information you will include in your CV. You can structure your CV as follows:

  • Use your name as the main title. Adjacent to this, add your current job position, cellphone number, email address, and residential address.
  • Only add information such as your age, gender, and whether you have a driver’s licence if this information is directly related to the position you are applying for.
  • Add a short general description of yourself and the personal characteristics that make you the best candidate for the job.
  • Next, add the relevant technical skills that will assist you in doing the job.
  • You can then add your work experience. You should add your most recent work experience first. So if you’re currently employed, start by listing your position and the length of time you’ve been at your company. Also list your duties. You can then do the same for any previous positions you’ve held. If you haven’t had a permanent job before, then you could add any part-time jobs, internships, or work shadowing you’ve done. Read How to Enhance an Empty CV.
  • Move on to your education, again starting with your most recently completed qualification, the name of the institution, and the years you were studying. Follow this up with your secondary education. Create a separate section listing other relevant training, such as short courses.
  • If you have won any work-related awards or completed any highly notable projects, then you can add them in now.
  • Add the names of three references who can be called by prospective employers, along with their job titles and contact details. Before you do this, ask previous employers, lecturers, or other important figures in your career whether you may add them as references on your CV.

Remember that you can tweak these general guidelines according to the type of job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re in a creative field such as graphic design, you may have some freedom to be a bit more creative with your CV. See some examples of creative CVs here.

It’s a good idea to tailor your CV to suit each particular job you’re applying for, making sure that you highlight the skills and personal characteristics that are most relevant.

To make things easier, you can look for suitable free CV templates online, which you can simply download and complete. Here is an example, designed by Oxbridge Academy:


Download your free CV template now


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