Basic tips to boost your CV

There are a million hints and tricks on how to create the perfect CV. Ultimately, every CV should be unique, like the individual it's for, but follow these basic universal tips to get a polished Résumé.

Photo of Jodie Doubleday
A Laptop, headphones and pencil pot with a chalkboard saying you've got this - a photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production

A CV is a record of your work and achievements, keep it up to date and relevant at all times. Updating it with new skills and results from your annual performance review can take 10 minutes, but starting fresh when you have just lost your job can be daunting and cause even more stress.

If you have lost your job recently, it's important you get back on the horse (however hard it might seem) and fire out that CV to potential recruiters quickly.

Review your CV

The aim of your CV is to sell yourself, that means learning the dark art of bragging about your achievements, a hard task, which is not in everyone's nature. Look back at your previous performance reviews and role profile (if you have them), pull out all the details about what you did well, this is a great start to creating your personal CV.

  1. An opening sentence about your recent role followed by bullet pointing your skills is the most important thing for your CV. It's this key information that recruiters will use to make their decision on if you are right for the job. Give this section your undivided attention and the most space on your CV (think full A4 page) but don't just pad it out to fill space, avoid using 5 or 6 words when you can use just 1.
  2. Keep the layout simple - don’t overdesign your CV your aim is to get across the important information about you and your brilliant skills, your design should be about having the right hierarchy, unless of your job is a designer, then go nuts!
  3. Aim for 2 pages, and I'm not talking about increasing the font size like you used to do in GSCE English. You can have more if you are struggling to fit your skills in, but don’t waffle.
  4. Avoid ‘in-house’ terminology for systems/profiles that external organisations won’t immediately understand.
  5. Share the effect you've had It's important to not only show what you can do but give examples, the numbers, the growth, results achieved.
  6. Simplify your education/qualifications (unless you’re a school-leaver). If you have been working as a Web Developer for the last 15 years then nobody will care if you achieved a GCSE grade B in Home Economics.
    e.g. Computer Science BSc, 4 A-Levels (A-C), 9 GCSEs (A-C)
  7. Oversharing Do not put on your CV your address, age/date of birth, irrelevant work/qualifications, ‘Curriculum vitae’ or 'Résumé' as the title, or your references.
  8. Spell and Grammar check your CV over and over again, get others to read it if you can. We thoroughly recommend starting by using a plugin like Grammarly (free).
  9. List any volunteering you do or any personal achievements outside of work.
  10. Listing your interests & hobbies is fine if you have space. It gives someone more insight into you. However, be careful of your wording as things can be perceived differently in black and white with no context, e.g. 'I love drinking with friends at the weekend'.

Align CV with your LinkedIn

Love it or loathe it, LinkedIn is a great place to talk work and importantly help find you some. There are thousands of great recruiters on there (and thousands of bad ones), but many big companies advertise on there direct. So get your profile in order, use it regularly and be active.

  1. When searching for a new job make your LinkedIn profile Public.
  2. Get a custom URL, nobody wants to see a link to your linked in as john-smith-37365127745.
    (To change your URL go to your Settings > Edit your custom URL)
  3. Ensure you have a clear, good quality headshot (no cats, dogs, group shots). Also, remember this is not Facebook, make that picture a good one and a professional one.
  4. Ensure you have a background image for your profile. It's a simple thing, but it looks like you care about your profile.