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Is your CV costing you interviews?

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  • Writer's pictureCV People UK

Top CV Writing Tips and Best Practices for 2024

Top CV Writing Tips and Best Practices for 2024

Creating a standout CV is crucial for securing interviews and job offers in the competitive UK job market. With the rapid changes in job application processes and employer expectations, it's essential to keep your CV up-to-date and tailored to meet the latest standards. Here are the top CV writing tips and best practices for 2024 to help you craft an effective CV that grabs the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.


cv writing tips

1. Tailor Your CV to the Job Description

One of the most important aspects of CV writing is tailoring it to the specific job you are applying for. Generic CVs are less likely to catch the recruiter’s eye. Here’s how to tailor your CV:

  • Highlight Relevant Skills and Experiences: Carefully read the job description and highlight the key skills and experiences the employer is looking for. Ensure these are prominently featured in your CV.

  • Use Keywords: Incorporate keywords from the job description into your CV. Many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that filter applications based on these keywords.


2. Create a Strong Personal Profile

Your personal profile, or summary, is the first section of your CV that recruiters will read. This is your opportunity to make a great first impression.

  • Be Concise and Specific: A good personal profile is no longer than 4-5 lines. Clearly state who you are, your career goals, and what you can bring to the company.

  • Show Your Unique Value: Highlight what makes you stand out from other candidates. This could be specific achievements, unique skills, or your passion for the industry.


3. Focus on Achievements, Not Just Duties

When detailing your employment history, focus on your achievements rather than just listing your duties. Achievements demonstrate your impact and effectiveness in previous roles.

  • Use Quantifiable Metrics: Wherever possible, quantify your achievements with numbers. For example, “Increased sales by 20% in six months” is more impactful than “Responsible for increasing sales.”

  • Be Specific: Provide specific examples of how you contributed to your previous employers’ success. This gives potential employers a clearer picture of what you can do for them.


4. Highlight Relevant Skills

A dedicated skills section is essential, especially for roles that require specific technical skills or expertise.

  • Hard Skills vs Soft Skills: Focus on hard skills relevant to the job you’re applying for, such as software proficiency, technical knowledge, or language skills. Soft skills, like communication or teamwork, can be included but should be supported by examples in your employment history.

  • Show Proficiency Levels: Indicate your proficiency levels for different skills. For example, you might specify “Advanced” for Excel or “Fluent” for a language.


5. Education and Professional Development

Your education section should be clear and concise, but don’t underestimate its importance.

  • List Relevant Qualifications: Include your highest qualifications first and only list those that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

  • Include Ongoing Learning: Show that you are committed to professional development by including any courses or certifications you are currently pursuing.


6. Optimise for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

With many companies using ATS to screen applications, it’s crucial to optimise your CV for these systems.

  • Use Standard Formatting: ATS often struggle with unusual formats. Stick to a standard CV format with clear headings and bullet points.

  • Avoid Graphics and Tables: These can confuse ATS. Keep your CV text-based with simple formatting.

  • Include Keywords: As mentioned earlier, ensure you include keywords from the job description. This increases the likelihood of your CV passing the ATS screening.


7. Keep It Concise and Relevant

A CV should be concise and to the point. In the UK, a CV should typically be no longer than two pages, unless you are a recent graduate, in which case one page may suffice.

  • Cut the Fluff: Only include information that is relevant to the job you are applying for. Remove any outdated or irrelevant information.

  • Prioritise Information: Place the most important and relevant information at the beginning of your CV. This ensures it gets noticed even if the recruiter only scans the document.


8. Professional Layout and Design

The layout and design of your CV play a significant role in making a positive impression.

  • Use a Clean, Professional Layout: Ensure your CV is easy to read with a clean, professional layout. Use a simple, professional font like Arial or Calibri.

  • Consistent Formatting: Use consistent formatting for headings, bullet points, and text. This helps create a polished and professional appearance.

  • White Space: Don’t overcrowd your CV. Use white space effectively to ensure it’s easy on the eyes.


9. Include a LinkedIn Profile

Including a link to your LinkedIn profile can provide recruiters with additional information about your professional background.

  • Keep Your LinkedIn Updated: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and aligns with the information on your CV.

  • Showcase Recommendations: LinkedIn recommendations can provide valuable third-party endorsements of your skills and experiences.


10. Proofread and Edit

Errors in your CV can create a negative impression and reduce your chances of getting an interview.

  • Check for Spelling and Grammar Mistakes: Carefully proofread your CV to ensure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. Consider using tools like Grammarly for additional checks.

  • Get a Second Opinion: Have someone else review your CV. A fresh pair of eyes can catch errors you might have missed.


11. Add a Cover Letter

While not part of your CV, a well-written cover letter can enhance your application.

  • Personalise It: Tailor your cover letter to the specific job and company. Address it to the hiring manager if possible.

  • Highlight Key Points: Use your cover letter to highlight key points from your CV and explain why you’re a great fit for the role.


12. Continuous Improvement

Your CV should be a living document that you update regularly.

  • Keep It Updated: Regularly update your CV with new skills, experiences, and achievements.

  • Seek Feedback: Ask for feedback from colleagues, mentors, or professional CV writers. Use this feedback to continuously improve your CV.


13. Customisation for Different Roles

If you are applying for different types of roles, consider creating multiple versions of your CV, each tailored to the specific requirements of each type of role.

  • Highlight Different Skills and Experiences: Customise each version of your CV to highlight the most relevant skills and experiences for the particular role.

  • Adjust the Personal Profile: Tailor your personal profile to reflect your suitability for the specific role you are applying for.


14. Digital and Printable Versions

In today’s digital world, having both digital and printable versions of your CV can be beneficial.

  • PDF Format: Save your digital CV in PDF format to ensure it looks the same on all devices and cannot be easily edited.

  • Print-Friendly Version: If you are attending job fairs or networking events, have a print-friendly version of your CV that is easy to read and professionally printed.


15. Highlighting Transferable Skills

If you are changing careers, it’s important to highlight your transferable skills that are relevant to the new industry.

  • Identify Relevant Skills: Identify skills from your previous roles that are relevant to the new industry and highlight them in your CV.

  • Provide Context: Provide examples of how you used these skills in your previous roles to demonstrate their relevance.


16. Professional Affiliations and Memberships

Including professional affiliations and memberships can add value to your CV and demonstrate your commitment to your profession.

  • List Relevant Memberships: Include memberships in professional organisations that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

  • Highlight Roles and Contributions: If you hold any positions or have made significant contributions within these organisations, be sure to highlight them.


17. Volunteer Experience

Volunteer experience can be valuable, especially if it is relevant to the job you are applying for.

  • Include Relevant Volunteer Work: List volunteer experiences that have provided you with skills or experiences relevant to the job.

  • Highlight Achievements: Just like with paid employment, focus on achievements and the impact you had in your volunteer roles.


18. Gaps in Employment

If you have gaps in your employment history, it’s important to address them positively.

  • Explain Gaps Briefly: Provide a brief explanation for any significant gaps in your employment history, such as time taken off for further education, travel, or family reasons.

  • Highlight Productive Activities: Highlight any productive activities you engaged in during these gaps, such as volunteer work, freelancing, or further training.


19. International Experience

If you have international work experience, make sure to highlight it, as it can be a significant advantage.

  • Highlight Global Experience: Emphasise any international roles or projects you have been involved in and the skills you gained from these experiences.

  • Cultural Adaptability: Demonstrate your ability to adapt to different cultural environments and work with diverse teams.


20. Hobbies and Interests

Including hobbies and interests can add a personal touch to your CV, but it’s important to do so strategically.

  • Be Selective: Only include hobbies and interests that are relevant to the job or demonstrate valuable skills or qualities.

  • Showcase Unique Interests: Unique hobbies can help you stand out and provide talking points in interviews.


Conclusion

Crafting a CV that stands out in the 2024 UK job market requires attention to detail, personalisation, and a focus on showcasing your unique skills and experiences. By following these top CV writing tips and best practices, you can create a compelling CV that not only passes ATS screenings but also captures the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. Remember, your CV is a living document, so keep it updated and continuously seek ways to improve it. Good luck with your job search!

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