How to write a good CV

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Your CV is the first chance you get to make a good impression on a potential employer. A top-quality CV will therefore considerably boost your chances of being called for an interview.

Standing out from the crowd in a way that showcases your talents effectively could make the difference between securing an interview and missing out on your ideal role.

Now that you know how important a quality CV is, how do you write one?

Asia Skifati, Manager of the Walters People Business Support Division in Belgium answers the 6 most commonly cv questions asked by candidates.

“Learning what employers look for in a CV and how to highlight your skills and expertise effectively is a valuable professional skill, one that is well worth developing to ensure successful job hunting throughout your career.”

Question #1 - How long should my CV be?

Your CV should be clear, concise, complete and up-to-date with current employment and educational information. Try to generally keep it no longer than 4 sides of an A4 paper.

As you further progress in your career it is only normal that your CV will grow in length as you gain more experience. It is however not always necessary to include your earliest job experience, particularly if it is not relevant to the role you are applying for.

"Don’t have any gaps. Providing a full employment history is important and applicants should be prepared to discuss any gaps where they have taken time out of the workforce,” says Asia. “However, as you become more senior you can start removing the details of your earliest jobs and focus instead on your most recent and relevant achievements".

Question #2 - Should I include my personal interests?

Some personal information about your hobbies is fine, but keep it simple and think about what this adds to your career profile and what it means. Bear in mind that your employer will be looking for information that is relevant to the role you are applying for.

"Think about your interests and hobbies and consider how they have equipped you with new skills or experience that are valuable in your profession,” advises Asia. "You do not need to tailor your skills to the role you are applying for. Certain qualities such as being a self-starter or possessing leadership skills are valuable to most employers".

Question #3 - Should I put my referees on my CV?

Before making an offer, your employer will need to verify your employment history by contacting your referees.

It is not necessary to write the details of your referees on your CV. Simply state that they are available on request and make sure you have asked your referees for permission to contact them. Arranging for former colleagues who are happy to be contacted in advance ensures that the entire process runs more smoothly.

"You should also keep your references informed on when they could potentially expect a call. Even if you have a good relationship with your referee it is always safe and courteous for them to be aware of your progress – you never want the phone call to be a surprise”.

Question #4 - Should I include a photo on my CV?

Despite photos becoming increasingly popular with professionals, many employers are put off by it and it could actually hurt your chances with some companies and businesses. "Instead of including a photo on your CV, upload a professional picture to your LinkedIn profile” says Asia.

“Employers are very likely to check your professional social media presence as part of their recruitment process and this is a more appropriate place to have a headshot."

Question #5 - Should I put my work or personal email address on my CV?

Unless you’ve clarified it in advance with your current employer, do not give out your work contact details when applying for new opportunities.

If you are using a web based email provider such as Gmail, consider whether your email address is appropriate for professional use. If not, create a new account with a more professional username.

Question #6 - Should I include a cover letter?

A cover letter provides candidates with the opportunity to stand out over the many other CVs and showcase how they are different from everyone else. That being said, cover letters need to however be specifically tailored to a role. Although a generic letter may be tempting, you will make a much stronger impression by providing your potential employer with information that is specific to the job you are applying for.

If you decide to include a cover letter, use it as an opportunity to clearly outline your skills and experience and how they match those required in the role and address the letter directly to the interviewer.

Don't forget to consult our interview tips in order to best prepare for your job interview.

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