Five Quick and Simple Steps to CV Nirvana

You’ve done all the hard work: the summer internships, the late-night bar shifts, that term you spent as society treasurer where you actually ended up running the whole thing. Now comes the hard part – trying to apply for a job where everyone else is also exceptional. With all the variables that come into receiving any job offer, why should a CV be one of them? Here are our 5 simple tips to a clear, brilliant CV: 

1.    Emphasise Your Relevant Experience 

While it may seem obvious, you need your key experience to take centre stage on your CV. While that summer job washing dishes at the local pub is indeed respect-worthy, it shouldn’t be the first thing a company recruiter will see. Ensure that your job title and role at the company is clear to see, and it comes at the top of your work experience section. Additionally, don’t allow other potentially important skills (such as fluency in 2 or more languages) to lounge at the bottom of your CV. They are important and could help to get your foot in the door. 

2.    Don’t leave gaps 

It rarely makes sense to keep your recruiter guessing. If you took a gap year, note it down – particularly if you can draw a benefit from your experiences. Additionally, if you decided to take a year to redo exams, make sure you add that to your CV – the ability to conquer setbacks and turn negatives into positives is important experience. 

3.    Get the length right

There is an old piece of advice which suggests that all good candidates should fit their CV onto one page. Don’t buy into it. While one page might be enough to fit everything in brief, many things within a CV will require some explanation. What did you achieve on an internship? What did you learn? Let the length of your CV feel more natural – you should never be cutting out information which is important to a company. Up to 2 pages is absolutely fine. This is not a casual summer job, and the company you apply for will look carefully at your CV – make it impossible for them not to interview you!

4.    Presentation is key 

Here at OCH we would suggest using a CV template, available freely across Microsoft Word and Google Docs (among many other platforms). Choose something which you feel frames you as a candidate – not too casual but bright and exciting enough to clearly break your CV into clear, defined sections. If you create your own from scratch, or even when editing a template – remember formatting matters. Grades should be aligned and stylistic choices (large gaps, indentations, double spacing, etc.) should be uniform across the document. 

5.    Language Matters 

Last and potentially most important – language really does matter. Try to minimise language which frames you as a doer. Words like ‘helped’, ‘tried’ and ‘did’ should be eliminated and swapped with language which frames you as an achiever. Highlight the successes you had, the things you achieved and what you managed to bring to the team. Be unequivocal with your language. You are impressive and are good enough to take on the role. Make sure your recruiter knows that.

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