5 Expert Tips for Perfecting CV Writing

Your step-by-step guide to perfecting CV writing. Strap in.

7 Minute Read.

paralegal cv

CV writing: it’s hard!

Writing a good CV can feel difficult. At times, it can feel impossible. Particularly when so much can, and often does, ride on writing a good CV, it can leave you with serious writer’s block.

Fortunately, here at Jump were pretty confident we can unblock you. Having spent a lot of time with business and HR teams, we get a lot of feedback on what makes a good, a bad, and an ugly CV. So, let’s dive right in…

(If you want something even more detailed, take a look at our specific guides for paralegals and personal assistants).

Why is writing a good CV so important?

 

CV writing is critical in your chances of finding a new role. What’s more, writing a good CV is also a great way to stand out and boost your chances of getting the right job for you. 

Indeed, as the rarely-used latin name suggests, your CV is a great place to summarise your life experience. From your education to your career, it’s where you get to show what you’ve accomplished, and if it’s written well, what you can accomplish in a new position.

How do I write a good CV?

Of course, that’s the million-dollar question you want an answer to. Because despite this being a much-written about topic, finding a good answer is hard.

In fact, it’s more accurate to say good answers. There are many factors that go into perfecting the CV. To get it right, you’ll need pretty much all of them.

Luckily, after gathering a lot of feedback from the businesses that use Jump, we have the answers that will make a difference when writing your CV.

So, let’s get started…

What should I include in my CV?

Let’s start with a seemingly obvious question. While it is the first step when writing a CV, it’s also the first place where businesses see a lot of people make mistakes.

While the literal meaning of CV (“course of life”) may tempt you to include anything and everything, it should read more like a highlight reel.

Of course, the basics first: your contact information should be front and centre, at the top of your CV. (While we’re on basics – formatting is key!)

Next up, start with the most relevant information – more often than not your work experience. Next should be an overview of your relevant skills and education. And, if it relates to the position, any other key accomplishments can be a good addition.

Finally, it can be a good idea to include a (very) brief personal statement, usually right at the top. While this only applies if there isn’t an opportunity to write a full personal statement, it can be a great way to stand out. This short profile, if done right, can provide a concise overview of what makes you unique.

With the ‘what’ of your CV sorted, let’s get started on  the ‘how’.

1: Emphasise your experience

This can be tricky to get right. After all, part of writing a good CV is taking the time to consider what sets you apart, and your experience is the best place to do this. 

This is particularly important when writing about your recent work experience. Potential employers want to see the relevant skills you have, meaning it’s worth spending time on this point.

So, reflect on what you have learnt and accomplished in each position, and consider if it could help you stand out. A great way to do this is to review the job description while you’re writing. It will help to identify which points will set you apart, and are therefore worth expanding on.

(Bonus Tip: ‘the CV hotspot’. It’s the upper-middle area of the page, where the reader’s eyes naturally fall. This is exactly the spot to place your best experiences).

 

2: Use numbers to show your achievements

Looking through all the feedback we’ve received, this could be the one where candidates slip up the most. Countless times we’ve seen candidates passed up on because:

“They might have been a good candidate, but they didn’t demonstrate why.”

The key here comes down to numbers, as they are a great way to clearly explain your success and what you have achieved.

Once you’ve identified your key experiences and accomplishments, reflect on their impact. Often, you were successful because you had a measurable impact. And that’s what you want to include.

Consider these points:

  • “Responsible for managing and coordinating an account base of clients.”
  • “Increased client account base from 45 to 115 clients within 6 months, generating an average revenue of $125,000 per month.”

Two ways of conveying the same point, but one is much more comprehensive and impressive than the other. Think of it this way – which candidate would you hire?

3: Tailor your CV to the position

One of the main reasons why we reject applications is because of general or vague CVs. There is nothing to suggest what kind of role they are applying for.

It’s important to tailor your CV to the specific job you are applying for. To do this, research the company, the team, or even your potential manager if they’re mentioned. LinkedIn is a great tool for this, and this article has a great guide on how best to do it if you’re a little unsure.

Use this research to identify what skills and experiences matter to them. While it can feel like time not spent applying to other jobs, it will massively boost your chances of getting your foot in the door. By emphasising the qualities they find important, you’ll be sure to get a leg up on your competition.

 

4: Keep it concise

This is a nice and simple one, but is still important to get right. Particularly as this study shows, the average time spent reviewing a CV can be as little as 7 seconds. So, keep things compact.

As a reference, if you can fit everything that’s worthwhile on one page, you’ve nailed it. You want it to be easy enough for anyone to scan through your CV and find the key information quickly. 

But, don’t let that limit you. If you have lots of relevant points, it’s just as important to include them and show why you’re a good candidate. 

(As a rather essential side-note here, don’t leave gaps!)

So as with anything in life, it’s a fine balance to get right. But if in doubt, 2 pages should really be the maximum length.

    5: Personalise your CV

    Finally, it’s important that your CV reflects your personality. The countless other guides and articles can make you think there’s a perfect universal CV template. There isn’t.

    Of course, as we’ve covered up until now, there are definitely some guidelines you should follow. But you should also make your CV your own.

    Including some interests or achievements outside of work is one great way to do this. Another is adding a short personal statement near the “CV hotspot” to help convey a little more of you. (But, as mentioned earlier, this is best to do only if you don’t have the option of including a full personal statement.)

    Just remember: you’re trying to stand out, not fit in.

    The importance of CV writing (again)

    These tips should give you what you need to write a great CV. The important thing is to invest the time and patience to follow these tips closely. CV’s should go through multiple drafts before you get it just right. 

    Getting your CV right is a key part to getting your job search right. It will not only help get your foot in the door, but it’s also great practice for interviewsreflecting on all you’ve achieved.

    It’s also a key part of finding the right job. While that’s a small distinction, it will help set you up for success and happiness in the role you find.

    Plus, if we weren’t helping you discover your perfect job, we wouldn’t be doing our job.

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