Your CV is the first impression you offer to a potential new employer, so it’s important to get it right. Together with our top Linkedin tips and interview insights, we've gathered some top CV advice from our consultants who work within sectors across IT. On this page you can find:
How to layout your CV | Where to upload your CV | CV Checklist | Common CV mistakes | CV Spelling and Grammar Guide
1. Tailor your CV for the job you want
For most jobs, a generic CV just won’t cut it; it’s really important you’re amending your CV for each job you apply for. An obvious tip is to make sure you highlight the skills on your CV that match the job description. But you can go beyond this – take a look at the company’s website and social media channels. Does your CV paint a picture of someone who would fit in well in this environment? This is a great way to let the hiring manager know that you’re a strong fit for this company.
2. Order your career history in a way that makes sense
It’s standard practice to list career history in chronological order on your CV, and nine times out of ten this is probably the best approach to take. But it’s important to use some common sense here. You might have jumped around jobs a little, and that’s fine. But, make sure your most relevant projects are the first thing your hiring manager will see. There’s no point in your first page being filled with positions irrelevant to the role you’re applying for.
3. Be concise – no one has time to read ten whole pages!
Common sense really is the key trait here; if you have so much experience that every word of your four page CV offers something of value then that’s fine. However, you’ll probably be able to trim your CV quite easily. Imagine it was you reading through application after application; you’re not going to have time to sift through every little detail – an overly long CV could even end up going straight into the bin. However, a concise CV demonstrates you’ve taken the time and effort to think about which skills are really necessary for the job you’re applying to.
4. Include the location you want to work
This might seem like a weird one – why would you apply for a job in a location you don’t want to work? But from a hiring manager’s perspective, if they get an application for a job in Liverpool from someone living in London, they may think you’ve just applied on a whim, or misread the location of the advert. If you’re looking to re-locate for a position, it’s not a bad idea to briefly reference in an opening statement.
5. Mirror the language used in the job advert
A bit of subliminal messaging can work a treat; if you adopt the language you see in the advert, you’re already showing that you’re a great fit for this role. This instantly offers the impression that you’ll fit in with the culture you’re applying for.
6. Don’t be afraid to mention your hobbies
As long as you don’t go overboard on the detail, mentioning personal interests and hobbies isn’t a bad thing. A lot of people seem scared to do this, but if it’s relevant, and you want to mention it, then go for it! If you’re struggling to trim your words down though, this should probably be the first thing to cut. The golden rule is to think about the job you’re applying for; will putting your hobbies in make you more attractive to the hiring manager? If so, then pop them in.
7. Focus on the value you added as well as listing your responsibilities
Listing technical skills and experience is obviously crucial, but it’s equally important to make sure you explain the benefit your work has had on the company. Listing skills is great, but if you can contextualise your value and demonstrate just how your technical ability made an impact, then this is more powerful. You’re then offering more than just a shopping list of your abilities; you’re highlighting how your skills directly benefited your past employer.
8. Keep the layout neat
A tidy CV gives off a great impression… but a messy one? Not so much. Keep your font size consistent and try not to use three different typefaces in one document. A messy CV is a bad idea; it makes it look like you’ve put minimal effort in, and is the best way to get your CV thrown straight into the bin.
9. Make sure you explain gaps
Job hopping can often be looked on unfavourably within the job market. Gaps in your CV are fine – life happens. But you need to be able to contextualise it; don’t just leave an unexplained five year career break in your CV. You need to provide reasons for time away from work; if there was a personal circumstance that lead to time out, then don’t be afraid to include this.
10. Get someone to sense check your CV
After reading your own words over and over again, you can become numb to your own mistakes. It’s a good idea to get a friend or colleague to look over your CV; you’ll probably be surprised by the amount of errors they manage to find.
At Computer Futures, our consultants are on hand to help through every step of your job search. We put our expertise to use to find the perfect job for you and make sure you’re well prepared to impress at every step of the application process. Find out more about what partnering with Computer Futures really means for your career below!
Before you send out or upload your CV take a step back and run through our quick CV checklist. Remember your CV is one of your most valuable tools for opening doors and securing that all-important interview, so make sure it’s perfect before you send it to prospective employers.
- Are my personal details up-to-date and easily visible?
- Is it easy to read and well structured?
- Do my most important skills and experience stand out?
- Are the spelling and grammar correct?
- Is my tone of voice appropriate?
- Have I given a brief summary of the main duties and responsibilities for each of my previous roles?
- Is the CV tailored to the job I am applying for?
- Is there any irrelevant info? If yes, remove it.
- Would I want to read it?
- Have I included relevant keywords so employers and recruiters can find my CV online?
Common CV mistakes
- Don't just list the jobs you've had, always include a short and precise description about your key responsibilities and achievements.
- Keep your CV professional at all times. Personal details about your religion, parents and siblings or even details of your primary school must not be a part of your CV.
- Do not include information on courses that are not related to the position you're applying for.
- Avoid exaggerating your skills. Lying about your abilities may cause an unpleasant situation in your interview where you will be probed further.
- Don't just rely on the spellcheck, instead ask a friend or family member to proof read your CV for you.
- Don't leave unexplained gaps in your CV; always explain the gaps and be prepared for further questions regarding those gaps.
- Focus on accomplishments rather than the plain responsibilities your jobs included.
- Include relevant keywords so that recruiter and companies can find your CV - no matter how well written it is, it won't help you find a job if no-one is able to find your CV.
CV Extras - Spelling and Grammar Guide
The power of words
- Use positive words to describe yourself and your achievements.
- Use language that you feel comfortable with.
- Use keywords that recruiters or hiring managers will use when looking for CVs on job boards or databases - if you're looking for another IT Manager role, put "IT Manager" in your CV instead of "Technology Business Leader".
- Less is more - don't use three words where one word will do.
- Keep your sentences short and simple - complex and overlong sentences can distract from the point; there's also a danger that the recruiter or hiring manager reading your CV will lose interest.
Tone of voice
- Keep it professional - don't use colloquialisms, slang or swear words.
- Use the active voice not the passive form
- The active voice takes the form of "A does B"; the passive takes the form of "B is done [by A]".
- The active voice gives a stronger, more confident delivery.
- Passive constructions can clog up sentences and the message loses clarity and impact.
Technical jargon and industry acronyms
Ensure you use relevant industry terminology - this will help your CV to be picked up by recruiters and hiring managers when they run keyword searches. Be mindful, though, that filling your CV with technical language could be perceived as pretentious, and result in confusion rather than clarity.
Write in the first person understood
- That is, write without using pronouns - instead of writing "I managed a team of 5", write "Managed a team of 5"
- Do not use first-person pronouns (I, we) - your name is at the top of your CV, so the recruiter or hiring manager knows it's about you.
- Do not use third-person pronouns (he, she) when referring to yourself - this will make you look pompous.
Less is more
- Where possible, remove articles (the, a, an) - word count is precious on a CV, don't waste it or bore your reader with unnecessary speech. Use "responsible for budget" instead of "responsible for the budget".
- Omit helping verbs (have, had, may, might) - these words weaken claims and credibility. Write "managed" instead of "have managed".
- Avoid being verbs (am, is, are, was, were) - they can make you sound stagnant. Try "data collated" rather than "data was collated".
Consistency is key
be consistent with your tenses. Don't switch back and forth between tenses:
- Use the present tense to talk about your current job.
- Use the past tense for previous roles