BrightSparks' Tips for Writing a Great CV
Looking for a new job or voluntary opportunity? To get one, you’ll need a great CV that shows off your skills and experience. Here’s our top tips on how to go about writing one:
Tailor your CV to the role
Read the job description thoroughly and highlight or underline the bits that describe the skills that the employer is looking for. Then write some notes for yourself, listing all the relevant skills and experience you want to include in your CV.
Divide content into sections
Your CV needs to make it very easy for employers to see that you’re the perfect person for the job. Long paragraphs of text are difficult to read so divide your CV into sections. Common sections are:
- Your name and contact details
- Professional profile: 2 or 3 sentences that quickly and clearly describe your professional background to the employer.
- Your work experience: This can be paid or voluntary work, as long as it is relevant to the job you are applying for. Write the job title, followed by your main responsibilities. It will help if you can include facts and figures. For example, instead of writing ‘I helped children with reading’, write ‘Over a 5 week period of 30 minute sessions, I helped 14 children to improve their reading skills’.
- Education and Qualifications: Include the date you got the qualification and name of the institution where you received the training. List these starting with the most recent qualification you received.
- Key Skills: This section should include any relevant skills that you don’t think have been identified in the other sections. One area talked about in detail on our Essential Skills for Working with Children and Young People course is transferable skills. You may not have direct experience of the job role you have applied for, but do you have skills from other parts of your life that would be useful in the job? For example: leadership, delegation, problem solving.
Your CV should be no longer than two sides of A4. If your CV is any longer than this, edit it down to be as clear and concise as possible. An employer will be looking at a lot of CVs and they won’t have time to read pages and pages of information about you. You’re much more likely to get an interview if you manage to keep your CV ‘short and sweet’ while showing clearly how you meet the requirements of the job description.
Tell the truth
It may seem like everyone ‘embellishes’ their CV, but doing so really isn’t a good idea. It is easy to get caught out during an interview or when employers do background checks.
Check and check again
Most employers will get a huge number of applications for every role they advertise. This means that they will often have to look for ways to dismiss applications and having spelling mistakes on your CV is a surefire way to end up on the ‘no’ pile. Take an extra minute to proof read your CV.
Employers will notice how your CV looks before they start to read it, so make sure those first impressions are positive. Your CV should be well spaced and clearly structured, with headings for each of the sections. If you are asked to provide a physical copy of the CV, print it on plain white paper, and make sure it isn’t going to get crumpled or marked by placing it in an A4 envelope. If you are emailing your CV to an employer, make sure you have given it an appropriate file name.
One size doesn’t fit all
When applying for multiple jobs, you should edit your CV for each role, rather than using the same CV for every job. It may seem like a lot of effort, but a generic CV is much more likely to be rejected because you won’t be showing off how you have the specific skills required for that role.
Keep your CV up to date
Whether you are planning a job change or not, it is worth keeping your CV up to date with every new skill or experience you gain. It may not seem important if you’re happy in your current position, but it will mean that when you are ready to apply for a role, you don’t have to try to remember everything you have learnt since you last applied for a role.