CV Writing

Writing a CV can be a challenging task…

Even if you have all the right experience – what you end up writing doesn’t always portray your skills in the best light. However, as long as you’re aware of what employers want, and you’re able to spot what might be holding you back, overcoming issues might be easier than you think.

To help you improve the quality of your CV, here’s how to overcome five of the most common CV issues:

My CV is too long

When it comes to your CV, including too much can be just as bad as not writing enough – especially if you’re filling up space with unnecessary information.

But how will you fit all of your skills, experience and education into a two-page CV? You might not always be able to – but that’s OK.

Here’s why:

  • Employers are only interested in skills and experience relevant for the job you’re applying for
  • Depending on the role, your most recent experience and educational achievements will probably be most interesting to potential employers
  • Shorter CVs are easier to read and therefore more likely to be considered

So be selective with what you include, tailor your CV to the role, and use the job description as a guide to ensure you only reference the skills and experience needed to do the position you’re applying for.

I want to change careers

Changing careers isn’t always easy, especially if your previous experience is totally different to what you’re looking to do next.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. In fact, no matter what field you’ve worked in or type of education you have, you’ll have gained a range of transferable skills which will make you suitable for a number of other roles.

The key to standing out comes down to your ability to communicate these skills effectively in your CV, as well as show your enthusiasm about pursuing a career in a new industry.

And as long as you can prove how your experience (however different) could help you do the job you’re applying for, you’ll be on the right track to impressing an employer.

I have gaps in my CV

Whether it was to raise a family, to go traveling, or for something else, having one or two gaps in your CV isn’t uncommon.

But without the right representation, they could be perceived as negative by employers – especially if it isn’t clear why you weren’t working.

To ensure they aren’t holding you back, it’s important to remember the following things when including gaps in your CV:

  • Travel and voluntary work can be included in your skills and experience
  • Smaller gaps in work will be less apparent by specifying work dates in years only, rather than months and years
  • Taking a course or writing a blog is a great way to be proactive with your time off
  • To show your absence hasn’t affected your passion and drive, always keep up-to-date with changes in your industry while out of work.

And remember: lying about your gap is never a good idea.

I don’t have any work experience

If you’re still studying or you’ve just finished school, college, or university – you might not have any tangible work experience to speak of yet.

In this case, placing an emphasis on your GCSES, A levels, degree, or any other education related achievements (and structuring your CV with education coming first) will help you to highlight your strengths and show what you could bring to an organisation.

Additionally, detailing individual modules or relevant hobbies and interests will help to demonstrate your skills, enthusiasm, and ability to do the job.

All my jobs have been very similar

If you’ve had a large number of jobs with similar duties and responsibilities (e.g. if you worked as a temp for a number of organisations), it might not be essential to include every single one in your CV.

Instead, provide a brief summary of your career history, with a more detailed section outlining the practical skills and experience you’ve gained from all of these roles.

Alternatively, you could choose to provide details for the most impressive (or longest) role, and simply include job titles and dates for any similar positions that have taught you the same skills.

Not only is this section a good opportunity to highlight your relevant skills, it also emphasises your ability to summarise information and recognise what the employer wants.

I don’t have many qualifications

If you don’t have many qualifications to include in your CV, don’t panic.

You can still emphasise the skills and experience you’ve gained in your work or elsewhere, without official educational or professional qualifications. You just need to back them up with tangible examples.

However, if you think a lack of qualifications could be hindering your progress, you could consider taking an industry-recognised course, which will allow you to quantify your skills using a range of different learning styles and formats.

Not only will it enhance your qualifications, it’ll also demonstrate your willingness to learn.

Final thoughts

No matter what stage you’re at in your career or what type of work you’re looking for, understanding how to tailor your skills and experience to a specific role is the key to creating a perfect CV.

And whether it’s by highlighting your strengths above your weaknesses, cutting out unnecessary information, or simply using the most effective formatting – making small changes like these could make all the difference when it comes to standing out to employers and landing your dream job.

Because even if you’re the perfect candidate for a role, you could still miss out if your CV doesn’t tick all the boxes.

 

by Lynn Cahillane