Starting your CV in 7 simple steps

CVThere it is – the job opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

The criteria reflect your experience; the responsibilities excite you and the benefits are just the cherry on top.

There’s just one problem, your CV hasn’t been updated in quite some time and could certainly do with a rewrite. If recruiters spend an average of six seconds looking at a CV before deciding whether to read on or skip to the next one, first impressions are paramount to your success. Faced with an empty template, there’s a good chance you’re wondering how to start your CV. Fortunately, we’ve broken the process up into seven easy steps you can follow to create a winning professional resumé:

Pick a simple format

With the number of tools available online these days, it’s easy to get lost in the design of your CV before you’ve even considered content. The template you choose should be clean and free of clutter; it should direct the reader to the important information within. If you’re starting from scratch, add in the relevant headers as follows:

Name and contact details

Personal profile

Work experience

Education

Skills

Additional sections

As always, it’s what’s inside that counts so don’t spend too long mulling over header size or font family. Stick to Arial or Calibri which are considered professional and best practice for uses in business communications.

Add your contact details

Starting your CV might seem like a daunting task, but if there’s one easy step you can tick off, it’s your contact details. Providing a professional email address is essential (avoiding Hotmail or any ‘cute’ names) and adding a phone number will make it as easy as possible for a prospective employer to get in touch.

Start with experience

Your personal statement may stay blank for the time being, but that’s okay: it’s much easier to sum up your value as a candidate having delved into your relevant experience, key skills and notable accomplishments. Forming the bulk of your resumé, the work experience section should begin with the most recent or your current role and work backwards. There’s no need to write the War & Peace of every job to date – simply start by detailing your key responsibilities before moving on to your proudest achievements and the most relevant skills developed in each role.

List your academic achievements

This section is simple and straightforward; your academic qualifications along with the date you achieved them should sit neatly under your work experience. If you have industry-specific certifications or are a member of any professional bodies, listing them here will signal to a hiring manager your commitment to learning and development.

Bullet-point your core skills

Let’s face it – attention spans are getting shorter. While a hiring manager should give every application the same attention, there’s no harm in highlighting your key competencies and specialist knowledge through several bullet points to make your value abundantly clear. Soft skills are welcome too; they form a fundamental part of hiring decisions so don’t hesitate to list your excellent communication skills along with the job-specific expertise you bring to the table. Since many recruiters will use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to aid in the hiring process, adding in your core skills will boost your chances as the tool scans CVs for keywords relating to the job in question.

Return to your personal statement

Having taken a trip down employment memory lane, identified your most valuable attributes and honed in on your core skills, you should be primed to put your best foot forward in your personal statement . To truly stand out from the competition, try to open with a hook that sells to the recruiter your ambitions, experience and unique value in a short and succinct opening paragraph.

Put your recruiter hat on

Having drafted up your CV, step out of the candidate mindset and into the shoes of a hiring manager or recruitment agency. Bearing in mind the requirements of the job you’re looking to land, have a final check through your resumé and ask yourself objectively whether your value comes across.

About the author

Lucy Evans is an Executive Recruitment Consultant specialising within the Wealth Management industry. She works for Heat Recruitment, a specialist recruitment agency based in Bristol operating across the UK that specialise in Engineering, Information Technology, Insurance, Financial Services and the Legal sector. They place candidates in both permanent and contract roles.

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