7 top tips to create the perfect CV

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Nailing your CV is an essential but tricky achievement. Your CV is your ticket to the world of work and there are certain things you should remember when putting it together. Here are our seven top tips on how to create the perfect CV.

The tools needed to create the perfect CV 

1. Introduction

The top of your CV should contain your name and key contact details as well as a few short sentences outlining a little bit about you and what motivates you. A good example might be 'A creative and diligent History graduate from Durham, I am looking for opportunities to put my research and writing skills into practice in the professional world.'

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2. Education & qualifications

In the education section, it's important to give a brief summary of your education in reverse chronological order, e.g. starting from the most recent and working backwards. Make sure you share enough relevant details, for example, the names of specific modules you've taken if they apply to the role you're interested in.

A-Level and GCSE grades (or equivalent) don't need to be listed in full. Instead, it's preferable to reference the number of GCSEs you achieved and the grades, i.e. 6 As and 3 Bs. Also mention whether your GCSE grades include English and Maths.

Listen to our expert advice on creating the ideal CV layout.

3. Employment history & work experience

When you add your employment details make sure you include your employment dates, the full job title and the full company name. It is best to use bullet points to add your key achievements and responsibilities, ideally demonstrating with a specific example. We advise that you write your employment in chronological order (most recent first) and disregard anything not relevant to the role you are applying for. 

4. Key experience (extra-curricular, skills & interests)

This section should outline any relevant experience you have that makes you a good fit for the role you are applying for. This might be a university project or some work experience you have completed. On the whole, referencing that bar job in Australia or your Saturday job in your local supermarket are not activities you need to elaborate on in your CV. If you are short on experience, then a short bullet that references 'retail experience in bars and supermarkets' over three years is sufficient.

Remember, your CV needs to differentiate you, so it's important to pick out the most meaningful experiences you've had. Be sure to add skills you've gained such as foreign languages, your driving licence or coding languages. In this section, it's great to add any examples of leadership (perhaps you were the captain of a sports team or you ran an event) as well as any university society involvement. 

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5. Presentation & length

Keep your CV one-page in length. As you are not at the manager level yet it's very unlikely that you have enough content for two pages. Re-evaluate your content if you think you have more than a page. It is probably best to delete anything that sounds vague or non-relevant. 

We suggest that you always use bullet points, not sentences. Heavy sections of text are unattractive to recruiters. A recruiter will look at your CV for five to seven seconds, so make sure it’s good looking, well-formatted and laid out in a structure that is easy to understand.

Read how to write a one page CV.

6. Focused & complete

Tailor your CV specifically to the job you are applying for. Remove your non-relevant experience or order your CV so that more relevant information is nearer the top.

Don’t omit details from your CV – it can be frustrating for recruiters. Make sure you include your University start and end year. Add any relevant grades and include start and end dates for employment or society involvement.

It's great practice to include an introduction on the CV itself. Use this to demonstrate that you are right for the job you are applying for and highlight your best achievement and skills. 

7. Check your spelling & grammar!

While this point may seem obvious, it's astonishing how often spelling and grammar are neglected on CVs. Check that your spelling and grammar are flawless before submitting your CV in support of an application.

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