Create a Successful CV
Recruiters spend just 6 seconds judging a CV. That’s how long it takes the average recruiter to decide whether to read on or discard your application.
This can seem daunting but with our helpful advice and CV builder, it’s fast and simple to make a CV that sticks.
What are the top 10 skills that employers want?
Top skills vary from job to job. When you create a CV, however, know that employers want to see the following:
- An understanding of the individual organisation and of the industry as a whole.
- Clear communication skills.
- Independent organisational skills.
- Confidence in your abilities.
- Time management skills.
- The ability to handle pressure.
- The ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
- Problem-solving skills.
What do you need in a CV?
Although every CV should be tailored to each role, it will generally include the following:
- Contact details
- Personal statement
- Employment history
- Education history
Our CV builder was created by experts to help you impress recruiters and get your foot in the door. Follow our advice on tailoring your CV in our builder to advance your career.
How to Write a CV: Your Top Questions, Answered
How to write a CV isn’t the kind of thing you learn in school. The following key questions and answers provide the framework to create a CV that will appeal to recruiters, beat an ATS, and secure the job you’re looking for.
How do I choose a CV template?
When you make a CV, you need to choose the right template. Take a look at our examples and note the structure, format, and language used, then ensure that your CV fits your profession.
How do I structure my CV?
The structure of your CV needs to be easy to navigate. Separate sections should be emphasised with headings. Bullet points in sections such as ‘Employment History’ and ‘Skills’ make it easy for a recruiter to find vital keywords.
What are the most common CV formats, and when should I use them?
The most common CV format is the reverse chronological format. In this CV format, your most recent work experience is listed first so recruiters see the most recent position you’ve risen to.
If you lack work experience you might want to opt for a skills-based format, which emphasises educational achievements and transferable skills.
How can CV examples help me to write a better CV?
CV examples show how to write a CV that gets you the job you’re looking for. You’ll be able to examine the template used, the format for specific positions, and the way in which the facts are set out.
How long should my CV be?
Since recruiters only spend 6 seconds reading the average CV, keep it to one or two sides of A4.
What are the biggest mistakes that jobseekers make when they write their CVs?
Avoid these common mistakes:
- Typos and grammatical errors.
- Not using the keywords that a recruiter and an ATS will look for. Study the job ad and relevant example CVs to find the right keywords to use.
- Using clichéd words and phrases like ‘hard working’, 'motivated’ and ‘team player’. A recruiter will expect some, but keep your language fresh.
Can an online CV builder help me write a great CV?
An online CV builder makes writing a curriculum vitae simple. You get a template designed by professionals for the position you’re applying for, making it easy to focus on content. Sample text, tips, and advice lend a helping hand along the way.
How can I best showcase my achievements?
Choose the most relevant achievements to the job in question and back them up with specific facts. Rather than saying ‘strong track record of boosting sales’ explain that you ‘increased sales in the south-east region by 15% in two months’.
Do I need a personal statement section?
A personal statement at the top of a CV will give a recruiter a brief but effective summary of who you are, the position you are applying for, and what you could bring to the role.
What’s the difference between a CV and a resume?
In the UK, the words ‘CV’ and ‘resume’ mean the same thing. In both cases, it's a summary of who you are, your employment history, educational achievements, and what makes you the ideal candidate for the position.
Is a Skills section important?
Including a skills section allows you to highlight any attributes that might not otherwise be covered in your employment history. Being in charge of a household, for example, may have given you the experience of handling a budget. Only include relevant skills to the job to keep the recruiter engaged.
I’ve got gaps in my work experience. How do I handle these?
Your CV is your chance to sell yourself to a recruiter, so keep negatives out. If you have any gaps in work experience, try to find a way of covering them by referring to transferable skills from other parts of your life.
Should I create a visual CV instead of a text-based CV?
It may be tempting to create a visual CV if you’re applying for a more creative position, but a text-based CV is the best way to communicate the maximum amount of information in a clear layout. Text that has been formatted properly will also pass ATS, and makes it simple for a recruiter to read.
What kind of personal information should I include?
The tricky art to CVs is choosing what to leave out and what to include. A recruiter wants to know about details which are relevant to the position you’re applying for, so you don't have to include your birthday, marital status, or whether you have children. Research has shown that even including a photograph with your CV could lead to an 88% rejection rate.
I have no experience - what can I write?
You may lack direct employment-based experience, but you could still have transferable skills from other areas of your life. Volunteering shows your commitment to hard work, while running a club proves that you can manage a budget.
Do I need to write a new CV for each job I apply for?
Tailor your CV to the position your applying for. A CV builder provides the right templates and formats as well as tips and advice. Each job application requires a slightly tweaked CV to include relevant keywords and to ensure that the details apply to the particular job.
Do I need a cover letter?
Always include a cover letter with your CV. This gives recruiters the opportunity to quickly appraise your application and decide whether the CV is worth reading. Using the same online tools to create a CV and cover letter will ensure that they both convey a consistent message and create a positive impression.
What is ATS and why does it matter?
ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. It's a form of software which is now used by 75% of multinational companies to scan CVs and look for particular keywords, weeding out irrelevant applications and making the recruiters' job easier.
If the ATS can’t find keywords, a CV is automatically discarded - before ever getting to a recruiter. Study the job ad to figure out what these keywords are.
How should I write my work experience section?
Use reverse chronological order so that your current status and level of experience is the first thing that a recruiter sees. Use bullet points to detail your experience and use facts and figures to support your achievements.
What do I put in my CV’s header?
The header of your CV section should include your name and contact details. You don’t need to give it a title such as ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae'.
I already have a LinkedIn profile. Do I really need a CV?
Although your LinkedIn profile may include many of the details a recruiter wants to see, a CV highlights your strongest features and gives more detail into your background in a quick and simple format. Include your LinkedIn profile if you want recruiters to explore more, but a CV is required.
Which contact details should I include?
Include your email address and mobile or home phone number. Also include your mailing address. Don’t use a work-based email address as this will look very unprofessional, and make sure the address you do use isn't a 'novelty' one. Perhaps set up a professional sounding email account for job applications if your current one is too personal.
Similar rules apply to social media profiles – your Instagram, for example, might include pictures from big nights out that you don’t want a prospective employer viewing. Also, consider your voicemail message and keep it professional.
How formal should my CV be?
Use a CV builder and study other examples from the same industry to decide how formal your CV should be. A simple rule when deciding how to write a CV is that it should be formal enough to look professional, but not so formal that it stops your personality coming through at all.
How important is spelling and grammar?
How honest should I be on my CV?
Although many people admit to being less than truthful on their CV, it really isn’t recommended. Concentrate on positive aspects of your life and career, but don’t make claims you can’t actually back up.
Falsely stating that you’re bilingual might boost your case, but it won’t feel like such a good idea if an interviewer starts asking you questions in French.
How to Write a Successful CV
Get inspiration from top UK examples
The main purpose of studying how to write a CV is to land the job you’re aiming for. The examples you find on our CV builder are created with exactly that task in mind.
How to write a student CV
When you create a CV as a student, the emphasis is likely to be on educational achievements rather than work history. Make sure you make up for any lack of direct experience by focusing on personal skills and life experiences.
How to write a great CV
Writing a great CV means using a template that provides the perfect structure. Make sure you include any keywords you need, and write a personal statement that captures what you can offer in less than 200 words.
When you create a CV for a marketing position you have to demonstrate your achievements in the field and back this up by using actual facts and figures. A recruiter will be looking for concrete examples of your abilities, the marketing channels you are good at, and platforms you are familiar with.
How to write a legal CV
A recruiter will expect a legal CV to be professional, precise, and highly accurate. It should showcase the legal experience you have, such as courtroom or arbitration experience, and present it in a clear, concise manner, as well as detailing the degrees you’ve earned.
When you create a CV for a nursing post you need to demonstrate that you have the right licenses, certifications, and skills. You should also convey your passion for the field of nursing, and a commitment to helping others, through your personal statement and additional skills.
How to write a CV for a part time job
A CV for a part-time job needs to include the same details as a CV for a full-time job. In addition, it should demonstrate that you understand the nature of working part-time and are willing to be flexible in terms of availability.
A CV for retail needs to demonstrate your experience of working in the sector and your understanding of how to deal with the public in a retail environment. The positions you’ve held should be set out in reverse chronological order, so the recruiter can clearly see how far you’ve advanced.
How to write a perfect CV
The perfect CV should be no longer than 2 sides of A4 - with the occasional exception for more experienced applicants targeting executive or managerial roles. It should be set out using a template that looks professional and makes it easy for a recruiter to skim-read and pick out key details.
How to write a successful CV
A successful CV leads to a job interview. This means being formatted in a manner which is clear and conforms to industry standards, making it likely to pass the 6 second recruiter review test.
How to write a graduate CV
A graduate CV will naturally focus more on educational achievements than work history. It’s still important, however, to include any experience or skills that might be relevant to the position, as well as a strong personal statement outlining your ambition and potential.
How to write a creative CV
A creative CV should capture your personality without missing any vital details such as work experience or qualifications. Don’t be tempted to include visual gimmicks such as ornate fonts or a quirky layout, as these will distract the recruiter.
How to write a CV with no experience
If you don’t have direct experience of the position in question, look for other areas of your life where you’ve shown the skills needed. On many occasions, skills can be transferred from volunteer work or even a hobby to the work environment.
How to write a professional CV
A professional CV should use the template and layout a recruiter will be expecting. It should be laid out clearly, using a consistent font and writing style, and needs to be checked and re-checked several times for spelling and grammar mistakes.
How to write a simple CV
When you create a CV, you should always try to keep things simple. Don’t include your whole life story - just the experience that’s directly relevant to the position in question. Personal information should be kept to a minimum, and lists and bullet points can be used to make it easier to skim-read.
How to write a good CV
A good CV looks professional at first glance, includes the keywords needed to beat an ATS, and explains quickly and simply why you’re suited to the job in question. It should also be tailored for each individual application, to ensure total relevance.
What Recruiters Expect From a CV
Making sure you create a CV that's professional enough to meet recruiters' expectations by considering the following:
- A clear layout with defined sections and headings that make it easy to skim-read. At a glance, a recruiter should be able to see that you meet the criteria.
- A recognised CV structure, which shows the recruiter that you’ve done your research and have taken a professional approach. It will also make it easy for them to quickly check facts such as your work experience and educational history.
- Both the recruiter and an ATS look for keywords. Figure out what those words will be by carefully studying the job ad and description. Too few keywords mean recruiters never see your CV, but don't stuff in too many or your CV may seem like spam.
- Make sure contact details are up to date. Make sure you give your current mobile phone number and that your email address is suitably professional. Don't use a work email address.
Learn How to Write a CV and Get the Job You Want
Create a CV that opens doors
Writing a CV can be tricky, but with help from our tips and CV builder you’ll find the process fast, simple, and effective. Knowing which format to opt for and using a professionally designed CV template will ensure that your CV meets all industry requirements and passes the 6 second test with flying colours.