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Our top tips for a great CV

Having an up-to-date and polished CV is really important, whether you’re about to graduate from university, ready to push your skills further in a new role or looking for a change of career. 

There’s a lot of advice out there about how to write one, and it’s certainly not one-size-fits-all. Below, we’ve outlined some key tips to get you started. Once your CV is up-to-date and good to go, head over to the Jobs board to see what's available now. 

Here are some tips to consider when you’re updating your CV.

  • Tailor it—update your CV according to the position you're applying for - even if this involves having a few different versions! Highlight the skills that are relevant to the role. Make it easy for the person recruiting to see you are a good fit, not only in terms of skills and experience, but also with their company culture. 
  • Format—include clearly-defined sections for education, experience and skills. Bullet-points are your friend, making it easier to read and ascertain the key elements of your application. Also make sure it’s uniform throughout. Think: full stops throughout, fonts, size (11 or 12 pt is best), colour, etc.
    • Design—design your CV to stand out from the rest of the pile. If you are a designer, consider using your CV design to showcase your talent.
    • Chronology—education and work experience should be in reverse chronological order, with the most recent items first.
    • Dates—include dates for your experiences but keep it simple, e.g. Wired Sussex 2018-present, Sussex University 2014-17
    • Hyperlink—remember, hyperlinks only work if you send your CV by email. Check they all work and try not to over use.
  • Key Content—include: personal contact details (name, email address, phone number), education, work experience, additional skills/training and interests.
    • School grades—as you get older and more qualified, school grades become less important and take up space, so simplify, e.g. 3 A-levels (grades ABC), 10 GCSEs (A*-C)
    • Email address—make sure it’s your personal email and not your university one - and make sure it’s a professional-sounding address. Prospective employers don't want to hear from bigboyblue@hotmail.com!
    • Images and date of birth—there is no need to add these in as they take up space and aren’t important in the recruiting process. In fact, many companies prefer candidates to remain anonymous in the early selection process to support equal opportunities, equality and diversity protocols. 
    • Evidence—if you say you have a certain skill, back it up with evidence from previous work or experiences. Include what will be most useful to the position in question. 
  • ​​​Length—Don’t waffle. Keep it short and to the point, helping employers to quickly process the most important information. Glance over it for 30 seconds: do the important facts stand out?
  • Social Media accounts—include the following on your CV, if relevant: LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram etc. This can be a chance to showcase more of your skills (managing a Twitter page, for example) or show off your network (LinkedIn recommendations, etc.).
  • PDF—Save, attach and send your CV as a PDF. Word documents can be corrupt, be edited or display your CV all wrong on someone else’s computer. Don't throw away all that work you've done to get your CV looking perfect!
  • Proof read it—print it out and read it once, then twice, then get someone you trust to read it and check it twice. Give them the job description and person specification so they can compare it to your CV and covering letter. 

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About the author

Ophelia Schultz-Clark

Community Assistant

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