How to write a good CV

Learning how to write a CV is a really important skill - especially when you complete university and enter the job market. In this blog, we’ll cover how to write a good CV, what to include, the best CV format, and helpful tips to make your CV show what you’re capable of.

Select the right CV format

There’s no correct choice when it comes to using the ‘perfect’ CV format. Everyone is different, and a CV should reflect this. When building your CV, there are a couple of points to keep in mind to ensure its format is legible and clear.

  • Choose a format with a logical heading structure
  • Avoid formats with too many images or colours
  • Keep the fonts professional
  • Don’t be afraid of white space

Before crafting your CV, consider how much information you want to include as this could impact its style. Remember, your CV is meant to sell your experience and skills - it’s not there to showcase your design efforts (but they do help).

What to include in your CV

After planning your CV format, you can test whether it fits by including all the important technical information.

Before we dive in, here’s a tip from us: tailor your CV to each job application - showcase the most relevant skills and experience to the job role, and don’t just send a generic CV to every employer. Make sure to do your research about every company and job role.

Now, let’s explore what should feature in your CV more generally.

Contact information

Make sure to include your full name, phone number and email address. You need to be easily contactable by recruiters and potential employers. This is also a good place to link your portfolio or networking profiles, such as LinkedIn or Indeed.

Don’t include personal details such as your age, nationality, relationship status or residential address. Only include a photo of yourself if necessary for the role, such as modelling or acting.

Summary

When looking at standout examples of good CVs, they almost always include a summary. By including a topline summary of who you are and what role you’re looking for, potential employers can quickly understand if you’re right for the job or not.

Consider including this summary at the top of your CV. It can be just a few lines and must highlight your strongest skills and experience.

Professional experience

When detailing your professional experience, make sure your work history is clear and in a specific order.

Your list should begin with your most recent or current position of employment and then work backward. List the company name, your job title, how long you worked there and your main role responsibilities. Your list should include relevant full-time, contract or voluntary roles.

If you’re fresh out of uni and applying for your first job, you can focus on including the skills you’ve learned through specific academic projects, work experience or volunteering. What’s more, add your interests or hobbies that show off skills like strong leadership or organisation.

Education

Similarly to professional experience, make sure to list your education history from most to least recent. Add the institution name, title of your qualification and the dates you attended. This is also a good place to include any notable achievements, awards or certificates.

If you’ve just graduated and don’t have much work experience, you can include any volunteer or academic projects that helped you learn a new skill. Alternatively, you can list your specialised courses and the grades you received for them.

Technical and soft skills

A CV featuring your technical and soft skills is essential to showing potential employers what your noteworthy skillset is.

What’s the difference? Well, technical skills (also known as hard skills) are the ones you’ve learned and developed by completing certain training and qualifications. They are the skills needed to complete a job, such as graphic design, electrical engineering or data analysis.

On the other hand, soft skills are professional skills that aren’t necessarily quantifiable but equally important for completing a job, such as good communication, organisational, or leadership skills.

When deciding what skills to put on a CV, list your technical skills specific to the role you are applying for and then highlight three to five soft skills.

References

It’s typical to include a list of references on your CV so a potential employer can contact them to discuss your previous experience.

We suggest including two or three different references if you’ve already got work experience. However, if you’ve just started looking for work, then you may not have any references from previous employers yet. If this is the case, you could include a professor or course representative that you’ve worked with closely.

One very important thing to note is that you must ask your references for permission to include their contact details on your CV - it’s just a common courtesy.

Examples of good CVs

Every CV is special, and yours should be a fine balance between professionalism and personality. We can’t list all the examples of good CVs we’ve seen, but we can point you in the right direction. Check out these sites for some examples:

Common mistakes to avoid while writing a CV

Creating a memorable CV is tricky, and there are some important no-nos when it comes to creating one. Avoid the following CV errors:

  • Provide irrelevant personal information
  • Not proofreading your CV for misspellings or grammatical errors
  • Lying or including misleading information
  • Ignoring gaps in your work history
  • Making your CV too wordy or too long

FAQs about how to write a CV

How many pages should a CV be?

Your CV should be a maximum of two pages in A4 size. Try making it fit on one page with short, concise text and a streamlined CV format.

How do I navigate the gaps in my CV?

It’s normal to have gaps between studying or work experience - life happens! Our tip is to always be honest - don’t lie on your CV. The National Careers Service has written a really helpful article explaining gaps in your CV professionally - read it here.

How do I check if my CV is good?

Ask yourself these questions to check whether or not your CV is good to go:

  1. Is my CV tailored to the job I’m applying to?
  2. Is my CV under two pages, concise and professional?
  3. Are there any work history gaps or qualifications I need to address?
  4. Have I showcased my achievements and skills?

We hope this guide on how to write a CV was helpful, and that you feel ready to enter the working world - don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds.

 

If you’re still completing your final year at uni, and have queries or questions about wrapping up your time at iQ, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.