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CV stress? Here’s how to get started

We don’t like to brag, but we do know a thing or two about putting together a winning CV.

CV writing is one of the things a lot of people struggle with… especially if they’ve never been shown how to do it before! While it’s not an exact science, there are definitely a few things you can do to improve your chances and stand out from the crowd.

Before you put pen to paper (fingers to keypad doesn’t quite have the same ring), look around at examples of CVs online. You can also get a feel for the kind of jobs you’d like to apply to. There’ll be certain things that are asked for in the job descriptions time and time again. This is worth knowing! You can make sure your CV covers common requirements.

So, without further ado, here are our top tips for pulling together a CV that ticks all the boxes.

Top Tip #1: Get the basics down

Before you start thinking about layout and all that jazz, throw some ideas on the page. List your education, any jobs you’ve had and words to describe the type of worker you’d be.

Once you’ve done this, use bullet points to give a flavour of what experience each of your previous jobs and education have given you. At college you may have worked to deadlines. At your Saturday job you may have been responsible for customer service. Get it down on the page!

This will give you a good idea of what to include. See how this matches up to the job descriptions you looked at online. Are they all asking for someone who can adhere to food hygiene standards? If you’ve done this, make sure you include it.

Top Tip #2: Be brief

When you start putting your CV together, keep it to the point. While it can be tempting to include everything you did at a previous job, it’s much easier for an HR manager to scan over four or five key points.

If they like what they see, they’ll invite you to talk more about it in an interview.

Top Tip #3: Stick to double sided A4

The person looking at your CV may have to look at hundreds! Make sure it doesn’t take too much time to get the information they’re looking for. One or two sides or A4 is enough for them to understand what you’ve done before and your key attributes.

Top Tip #4: Presentation is everything

There are so many example CVs online that show how to set it out well. The main thing is making sure it’s clear to read and neatly laid out. It’s always good to have a version of your CV in a .doc format as some online applications will pull information from it.

In creative industries, you have the freedom to go all out. For example, web developers may make a webpage of their CV (mostly to show off their skills)! The possibilities are endless. Just make sure what you do suits the job you’re applying for.

Top Tip #5: One size does not fit all

Adapt your CV for each job you apply for. Look for clues in the job description and person specification to find what they’re looking for. This will mean you can tailor your prior experience to the role and company.

Top Tip #6: Check, check and check again

Proofread your CV, and get a few other people to look over it too. Make sure, after they’ve read it, you agree with their changes. You can’t check a CV enough. Look for typos, capitalisation, spacing and wrong use of tense.

We often see ‘Suffolkisms’ on CVs – avoid these at all cost. The most common one is ‘I done…’ rather than ‘I did…’ or ‘I was responsible for…’.

Top Tip #7: Ask YES.

You don’t have to do it alone. YES. can work with you 1-on-1 to help you put together a CV, tailored to you. Our free job coaching helps young people in East Suffolk, aged 16-24, get into work. It’s a great option if you don’t know where to start or just want to ask an expert. Get in touch here.

Quick fire CV questions

Got a question? Throw it at us! Here are a few that we’ve been asked that you might find helpful when putting together a CV of your own.

Why do I need a CV?

It’s a summary of what you’re like and what you’ve done! Employers will flick through to find out whether your skills and experience match what they’re after. Unless you’re told otherwise, you’ll need a CV to be considered for almost every position.

Can I use bullet points?

Of course, but don’t overuse them. Bullet points are a great way to summarise your responsibilities. Managers may have hundreds of CV’s in a pile, so make it easy for them to read.

Should I write a covering letter?

If in doubt, always include a covering letter! It’s a great opportunity to go into more detail about why you want the job and why they should employ you.

Should I send a photo of me?

Never include a photo unless it is a requirement. Some jobs, like cabin crews and cruise ship staff, will specifically ask for one. If this is the case, make sure it looks professional and isn’t heavy on filters or FaceTune.

Past tense or future tense?

Use past tense when talking about what you’ve done. Use present tense when talking about who you are or what you’re doing now.

What is a personal profile?

A short paragraph at the start of your CV that summarises who you are. Are you an enthusiastic, college student looking for a new challenge in the retail sector? Let them know!

Get in touch

Still scratching your head? That’s okay! Drop us a line on our contact us page – whether it’s a text, call or email, we’d be happy to help.