A great CV is the key that opens doors

  1. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes

    Before you apply for any role you need to gain an understanding of the type of person the prospective employer is looking for. Whether it’s from a job advert, person specification or conversation with the company itself, use this information as a blue-print for your CV. The more effectively you show a clear match between the skills required and those you possess, the more likely you are to secure an interview.
  2. Be honest and factual

    Your CV will typically be used to structure the interview and could be the foundation on which the job is built, so providing inaccurate information will only lead to problems further down the line. Give yourself the edge by using your CV to accentuate your real skills and abilities, and to promote achievements and successes.
  3. Make yourself easy to contact

    It seems obvious but not everybody does it. Include all of your contact details on all of your pages as you never know if your CV will get split up. Always include your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address and, if you have a website that you think will add value to your application, include that too.
  4. Proofread, proofread and proofread again

    It’s critical that each area of your CV is easy to read and allows the key points to stand out. Use a universal font such as Arial, Times New Roman, Palatino or Courier, rather than one that may not be available on the recipient’s computer. Always check your CV for spelling and grammar errors, as a mistake could cost you the job. If in doubt, ask someone else to double-check it for you. And always include a covering letter!
  5. Understand the job description

    The clues are in the job application, so read the details from start to finish. Take notes and create bullet points, highlighting everything you can satisfy and all the bits you can't. With the areas where you're lacking, fill in the blanks by adapting the skills you do have. For example, if the job in question requires someone with sales experience, there's nothing stopping you from using any retail work you've undertaken – even if it was something to help pay the bills through university. It will demonstrate the skills you do have and show how they're transferable.
  6. Making the most of skills

    Under the skills section of your CV don't forget to mention key skills that can help you to stand out from the crowd. These could include: communication skills; computer skills; team working; problem solving or even speaking a foreign language. Skills can come out of the most unlikely places, so really think about what you've done to grow your own skills, even if you take examples from being in a local sports team or joining a voluntary group – it's all relevant.
  7. Tailor the CV to the role

    When you've established what the job entails and how you can match each requirement, create a CV specifically for that role. Remember, there is no such thing as a generic CV. Every CV you send to a potential employee should be tailored to that role so don't be lazy and hope that a general CV will work because it won't. Create a unique CV for every job you apply for. You don't have to re-write the whole thing, just adapt the details so they're relevant.
  8. Including references

    References should be from someone who has employed you in the past and can vouch for your skills and experience. If you've never worked before you're OK to use a teacher or tutor as a referee. Try to include two if you can.
  9. Keep it error free

    It's deceptively easy to make mistakes on your CV and exceptionally difficult to repair the damage once an employer gets it. As well as checking your spelling and grammar, make sure your employment dates match up and that you've provided the right phone number and email address.
  10. Keep your CV up-to-date

    When you put together a CV it's often difficult remembering the projects you have been involved with and the achievements you have made. To avoid missing important pieces of information out, revisit your CV every month adding anything of importance and cut any information that is no longer required.