Writing a successful CV: What should I include?
Key information that your CV should (and shouldn’t) include…
Your CV is usually the first impression you make on an employer, which is why it’s key you get it right first time. Our short video guides you through the basics of what your CV should include.
I have personally written over 20,000 CVs as a professional CV writer and have seen every type of CV blunder you can possibly imagine. As a professional CV writer, I make sure the CVs I create are full of the right information to engage, persuade and influence the employer to interview you.
Below are just a handful of useful tips to help you evaluate your own CV:
Your CV should not include:
- Passive language: if your CV includes phrases such as ‘responsibilities included’ or ‘duties involved’ then start again. This passive language tells the employer what you did, but not if you were good at it.
- Irrelevant information: since 2006, it is not OK to include Dates of Birth – a blessed relief to many! I have never included dates of birth anyway because your age is irrelevant; you can either do the job or not. Likewise marital status – unless it’s relevant to the job then leave it off. Question how far back you are going with your jobs, if earlier jobs and earlier education are now irrelevant to the work you are applying for then you can consider leaving them off. Every piece of information on your CV has to earn the right to be there; if it’s not there for a positive reason then consider removing it. If in doubt remember that the purpose of your CV is not to tell the employer everything – the purpose of your CV is to get you through the door!
- Unexplained gaps: if you have employment gaps of over 6 months in the last 5 years then include a brief, positively worded explanation otherwise the employer may make inaccurate assumptions.
Your CV should include:
- Targeted profile and skills section: The most successful CVs are the ones that respond to the role you are applying for and the objectives of the employer. A simple example is that of a sales person: for such a role the employer wants to know how much have you generated in sales for previous employers and did you meet your targets etc. Skills an employer would be looking for in a sales a role could be; relationship building; sales ability across the sales cycle perhaps; negotiation skills; financial acumen and a strong competitive, entrepreneurial drive. It’s vital in preparing your CV to make sure the CV is written to match the needs of its audience and on this basis, every time you send your CV out, I recommend that you check it is a perfect match for each job.
- Achievements: Include plenty of achievements throughout the CV, particularly in the career section. Think about what you have contributed towards each role. Consider – did you make any improvements? Did you train anyone? Did you offer any ideas or show any initiative? Did you manage any projects? Did you develop specialist skills or knowledge? Were you given any additional responsibility? Did you connect with any key customers? Did you meet targets/KPIs? Overall, think about if you performed well in your roles and if so, how can you evidence this on your CV? Also, consider including achievements outside of work – voluntary work, climbing mountains, running marathons and raising money for causes are all things that tell the employer a lot about you!
- Personality: Is your CV a dull read? Does it have heart? Does your CV sound like you or more like a textbook? The best CVs manage to strike the right balance between personality, skills, achievements and experience in order to captivate the interest of the reader and encourage them to interview you. Give some time and thought as to what qualities make you different than other candidates, your CV should include these in order to give you an edge.
Incorporating these things on your CV you will really increase your chances of being selected for interview.
If you would like me to do a free evaluation of your existing CV – just email it to me today firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you score out of 20 and guide you on how to improve it! If you would like a professional CV preparing, just email me your existing CV in the first instance to get the ball rolling (rates start from £70) and I’ll be in touch to find out more about you.
This blog has been written by Charlotte Eve, CK Futures Ltd, The Professional CV Writing Company.