Here at Ignite Digital Talent, we have many years of experience at looking at CVs so we wanted to share those CV writing tips with you. We have all heard of examples of novel job applications. Infographic CVs for example, or a YouTube video ad. In reality, this style of CV or self-promotion rarely works in isolation. Whilst social media definitely has a role to play in the recruitment process the majority of companies still require a CV. Recently, we did a survey to find out what attributes land a CV in the Yes pile.

We spoke to the people who see your CV at every stage of the recruitment process. This included everyone from the team here at Ignite Digital, right through to HR departments, senior management and specialist leads.

We always aim to pass on our best advice, so here are our top 10 CV writing tips:

1. One CV does not fit all.  Tailor your CV to each role.

There is no perfect blueprint for a CV.

General CVs just don’t work, your CV needs to answer each individual job brief.

Adapt the details of your skills and experience around the requirements of the job description.  Include some keywords, but avoid duplicating text from the job description in order to satisfy requirements.

If you feel you can craft a relevant, tailored and well written personal profile then include it. However, if it is just generic phrases, such as your skills as a ‘good communicator’ then leave it out.

If you have the creative skill to add some visual design elements to your CV then go for it, but take care that your individual style or creativity does not detract from the vital information. Consider the culture of the business and role.

2. Make a good first impression – Clear, concise presentation and layout

Include only the most relevant information on your CV.  No one wants to read your full biography just yet.

Avoid too much text. Use clear headings and space to signpost the reader through your CV.

Avoid using small fonts in order to fit more text on the page.

Use no more than 2 pages (there are exceptions to this of course, but within reason – 8 page CV’s are not a good idea!)

Don’t use an unfamiliar or outdated format that is difficult to read or will appear unformatted if opened by someone else.

3. Keep your CV up to date

Remove skills and qualifications that are no longer relevant.  For example, software training which is now obsolete.

4. Start with the present

Cover the last ten years of work.  Start with the most recent and  focus your time and energy on the last 5 years.

Make sure past jobs are in the past tense. Current roles and responsibilities should be in the present tense.

5. So what?

Just listing your responsibilities doesn’t help the recruiter understand your achievements and strengths. Answer the ‘So what?’ question for each of the accomplishments you list.

Try to quantify your achievements to give them value and demonstrate where your real strengths are. Think of profit and growth.  If relevant, you could share customer satisfaction scores.

6. Don’t over claim

Don’t oversell your achievements.  Presenting 2 slides in a new business pitch is not you securing “£100 million of new revenue”.  Be clear you were part of a team.

7. Photos are old school

Pictures on CVs rarely do anyone any favours. With the use of social media, there is now little requirement for this.

8. Other interests- watching TV does not cut it

This is the opportunity for you to demonstrate skills you have gained outside of the workplace and to make yourself sound more than just your job.

You may work all hours of the day and collapse in front of the TV every night, but listing passive activities isn’t a good idea.

9. Naming your CV file

99% of CVs will be emailed.  Make sure the file name is easily recognisable as your CV and doesn’t look like you have applied for 43 jobs.

Jo Maid Insight Director CV’ is much better than ‘JMResume43May2015′.

10. Check and recheck

Check the grammar. Check for spelling mistakes and check that the layout and flow are easy to follow.

Ask a friend to read your CV.  Ask them to focus on what the main ‘take-aways’ from your CV are.  What do they remember as your key skill or a particular highlight?  Are these the most relevant for the job you are applying?  If they are not in line with the role you want, then go back and tweak your CV accordingly.

If you would like more information on how to order your CV then this article by the Guardian Jobs is a fantastic resource.

If you are looking for great advice and resources to assist you in your job hunt then you can’t go far wrong with our Job Hunting Resources. We hope these CV writing tips were useful, and this content will help you as you embark on your next career move.

About the author: As a founder of Ignite Digital Talent, I lead our brilliant team to ensure we deliver time and time again for our clients. I also stay closely networked with industry influencers to ensure we are well placed to understand the issues and challenges our clients face.

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