Careers Future

How to create a CV that stands out

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Writing a CV can feel intimidating. You might feel like there’s too much to include or that there’s too little to write about. Extending your CV or making your CV concise can both be challenging. This time last year I was constructing my CV so I could start applying for placements for my third year of university. I felt quite overwhelmed and putting it all together proved to be a demanding task. I was procrastinating a lot and I didn’t know where to start. I wanted to make a CV that stood out from the rest and would eventually reward me with a placement. I had to make sure my CV was interview-level worthy first…

Here are my top tips for creating a CV that stands out:

  • Attend CV and Cover Letter workshops: Make sure you attend any lectures, presentations and workshops regarding job applications, placement hunting and how to successfully write a CV and Cover Letters. They are very useful!
  • Choose a professional layout: There are fantastic free templates available at your disposal on Microsoft, Apple/Apple Mac and the internet in general. There are lots to choose from so make sure you choose a sophisticated and eye-catching template.
  • Make sure your email address is professional: If you made your email when you were eleven too, then you are not alone. However, is not appropriate for a CV! It’s very easy to create a new email with a more professional email address.
  • Spell-check your CV: It is incredibly important that your CV doesn’t include any spelling or grammatical errors. These can make your CV look very unprofessional and even if the content within it is impressive, employers won’t hesitate to reject you from the application process for this reason. If you struggle with your spelling, grammar and vocab there are free online services such as Grammarly, Microsoft and Apple/Apple Mac which can assist you with this.
  • Use the job’s listed duties and responsibilities as a checklist: When you find a job/placement you wish to apply for, use the list of job responsibilities as a checklist for the skills section of your CV. Sometimes the first round of the selection process may be scanned by a computer to assess the compatibility between the job’s requirements and the skills listed on your CV. Therefore, if your skills don’t match up with their job description then you might be rejected from the job before reaching the interview stage.
  • Order your work experience in a chronological way: If you have plenty of work experience, ensure it is listed in a linear order. This is so employers can clearly see your history as an employee over the years.
  • Go into detail about your degree: You should always mention the degree you’re completing. Don’t be afraid to include further details about your degree such as the grade you’re currently working at or proof of that grade whereby you include completed and graded modules. For example, if you achieved 75% in a module, include it on your CV! A first-class grade is very admirable and shows your current attainment levels.
  • Avoid vague and generic phrases: This can be anything from ‘team-player’ to ‘hard working’. Make sure your CV goes into detail about how efficiently you’ll be able to work in your chosen job role and how much of an asset you will be to the company or organisation you wish to work for. Don’t be afraid to sound ambitious and passionate- it’s what makes you stand out from other applicants.
  • Include your personal interests: It’s great to show your potential employer that you have interests outside of the workplace and outside of education. The best trick is to link your interests back to how they make you more employable (I’m trying not to sound like a capitalist). For example, if you enjoy cooking in your spare time, you can argue that cooking requires ‘precision and time management in a pressured environment to ensure [your] food is as tasty as possible’.
  • Include every success to boost your CV: Don’t be afraid to big yourself up on your CV. This is particularly useful if you feel your CV is looking a little empty. If you have a blog or a Linktree which is suitable to be read by employers- put the links on your CV. If you received a random award for something you did at school, college or anything extra-curricular- include it on your CV. Every success counts!
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