Episode 41: 5 Steps to Building your Basic CV


I get rather annoyed when I see companies offering to write your CV; there is really no reason why you cannot write it yourself with confidence. After all, who knows what you’ve been doing in your career better than you? What you might need help with is the presentation and language that you use to sell your skillset, but if you’ve been following my podcast or blog so far you will have a better understanding of the use of language and we will be covering it again when we talk about interviews.

What’s the first thing you should do?

Create a basic CV and keep it saved as a Word document. It is easier to change things on it than a PDF. However, every time you send a CV to a potential new employer you should tailor it to suit that potential new job. It is so much simpler and quicker if you have a basic version from which to start.
When you are creating your basic CV there are a few things that you need to bear in mind:

  • Clarity: Too many people spend their time dressing up a CV with what they consider beautiful fonts or formatting it in the way that they believe is aesthetically beautiful. Unless you’re in a design-related industry, this is a waste of time and potentially detrimental to your job search. Instead, you should focus on optimising the clarity of your CV: use clear headings which separate your CV into sections which a recruiter can easily skim (for example: work experience, education and qualifications, skills, hobbies or interests, languages, voluntary work, and referees). Finally, avoid clichés such as ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘team-oriented’ and instead show examples of these characteristics.
  • Presentation: This is often a simple one and really rests on your own common sense. For instance, if you are sending in a hard copy, make sure that it looks presentable; or if you are making an application to another country, check what is expected of a CV (for example, in Germany you might put a passport-sized photo of yourself on your CV, while in Britain to do so would seem odd). Follow the advice in the previous point when putting together your CV.
  • Brevity: Most recruiters will only spend seven seconds or so, giving your CV its first run-through, and they may not give it a second. So it is always best to keep your CV brief and communicate the key points. Of course, that means that your CV should only ever be two pages. Have a basic set of , but take care, the key points of your CV may change with each job that you apply for, so make sure you tailor them based on the job description.
  • Social media: Always check your CV against your social media or business media platforms which have information about your career – for example, LinkedIn. Make sure you don’t have any contradictory information on your CV, as recruiters will be sure to spot it.
  • Read through: Finally, please do read through your CV for any mistakes. Double check the periods which you worked for companies, in case you are asked for references and the company may contradict you, this happens a lot. Check grammar and spelling. It always makes me laugh when people say they’ve got attention to detail and then miss obvious mistakes on their CV.

Have a go at putting together your own basic CV and of course you can always send me questions.



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