In May, the ONS reported the largest quarterly decrease in unemployment since 2015, which is a great sign for UK job hunters. If you’re eyeing your next role, there’s no better time to spruce up that CV and any online professional profiles to make sure you’re getting noticed and presenting the best version of yourself to prospective employers.
How to write a CV
Even if some companies favour a different approach to applications, many still insist on the traditional CV format, so knowing how to write a CV is key. You may have a tried and trusted document, honed over the years and full of fantastic experience. It probably does the job, but could it do a better one?
Each time you’re setting off on your search for a new role, it’s vital to review all of the information you’re presenting to potential recruiters and hiring managers to make sure it’s bang up to date and a good reflection of who you are and what you can do.
Here are the main points you’ll need to include on a CV:
- Name and contact details
- Professional title (you may have more than one)
- Brief personal statement
- Experience/career history
Use this space (a few lines of punchy text) to give a sense of who you are, how long you’ve been doing what you do and what areas you specialise in, but avoid giving too many specific details.
Example: if you’re a marketing professional who has won awards for your work, you can refer to yourself as an ‘award-winning marketer’ then list the details later on as part of the relevant job description (or in a separate awards section if you’ve got lots to list).
Your personal statement will almost certainly need to be adapted for the different roles you apply for. Take the time to tweak it so the reader knows from the outset that you’re a great match for their exact posting.
Start with the most recent first and list in reverse order. Include the job title, the duration of the role and a brief summary of your responsibilities. If you’ve had a lot of positions and many years of experience, it might be time to trim the oldest and least relevant entries.
Example: a year spent doing an unrelated role as a holiday job 20 years ago doesn’t need to take up space on an already packed CV.
In contrast, for younger candidates with shorter CVs it’s worth keeping these entries in, as they show how you’ve been spending your time and create a more detailed picture of you as a person navigating their early career.
Volunteer for a charity or other organisation in your spare time? Tell prospective employers in this section (or under a separate volunteering heading if you have extensive experience to relate).
Start with your most recent qualification or period of study, then work backwards. Include the course name and type, institution name and dates. You can include degree classifications, but unless you’re straight out of school you don’t need to provide grades for things like A levels and GCSEs.
Consider adding a skills section. You can use it to highlight things like proficiency in IT packages, project management methods, or familiarity with foreign languages. These days, applicants often drop the more old-fashioned ‘interests’ section, except if it contributes to a more rounded picture of why the applicant is right for a specific role.
Example: an interests section showing your passion and commitment to children’s causes may be a bonus for an application to a children’s charity.
There are some beautiful design templates available online for the modern CV and they are perfect for certain jobs and industries. But be aware that they might not get you past the first selection round at a more formal setting. Try and understand the style of the organisation you’re applying to and choose a tone and visual approach to match.
Updating your LinkedIn profile
Companies and recruiters spend an increasing amount of time searching online to source candidates. If you’re not there, they won’t find you.
LinkedIn is a fantastic place to start. The profile page is slightly different to your traditional CV. The summary is the first thing readers will see, so make it interesting and to the point. You can make it friendlier and more casual than on a traditional CV. Start with a broad statement of what you do and how long you’ve been doing it, refer to your level of seniority if that’s an important factor in the kinds of roles you’re interested in, and refer to your career history, but leave the specific details for the relevant job section.
More LinkedIn tips
- Make sure your photograph is professional and clear. If you like, you can make your profile page pop by adding a background image too.
- Avoid jargon and technical language in your summary, but don’t be afraid to use technical language in your job experience section if you know that will chime well with hiring managers and demonstrate the kind of expertise they are looking for.
- Complete your skills list (and go back to update it each time you master a new one) – this helps you appear in more searches. Ask former colleagues to endorse your skills or, if they’re willing, to write you a recommendation so others can see why they should have you on their team. (Be sure to return the favour, too!)
- Grow your network by following industry leaders, former colleagues, old friends who may have relevant contacts and LinkedIn groups focused on your professional interests. Talk to others online, comment on posts that interest you, and be friendly and professional.
Remember: You’re appearing as ‘work you’, so don’t be tempted to slip into discourse that might compromise your credibility.
Creating an online portfolio
Some professionals, especially those in creative jobs, use a personal website as a showcase for their work. Anyone can create a really simple website using a template (there’s a choice of paid and free versions – see Squarespace, Wix, etc), and it could even be a single page with a couple of visuals to demonstrate examples of your work and some text to sell your abilities.
Talk to Appoint
We happen to know a thing or two about CVs. We also know what our clients are looking for. So, if one of our roles excites you, get in touch and we’ll help you present the best version of you to that potential employer.
If you’ve landed a new role that’s remote, check out our tips for starting a new job remotely.