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How to write a killer CV

How to write a CV that’ll go down a storm

Date: Sep 29 - Comments: 0 - Category: copywriting tips, CV writing tips, freelance copywriter - By: Sally

No heel-shinning or dead legs necessary. Here’s how to create a CV that will outshine your competition in a blaze of glory, without causing injury.

Well, when I say injury, a few egos will be bruised, but that’s nothing for you to worry about. All you need to do is relax and take a peek at these top tips on how to write a CV that’ll cause a deadly impact.

10 top CV writing tips

1. Attention, ATTENTION! Now that I’ve captured yours, please take note. I’m not urging you to pay meticulous attention to the grammatical accuracy of your CV (this goes without saying). I am of course talking about getting your reader onside. You wouldn’t dream of staggering into an interview oozing an eye-watering aroma of stale alcohol (after forgetting to brush your teeth and peel off your sleep-crusted pyjamas)… would you? Your CV is your initial interview, so create a stunning first impression to ensure you glide through to the real thing.

The opening message, or standfirst as we called it in my journalism days (nostalgic sigh), is your only chance to hook your reader, so don’t blow it. What makes you unique? How do you want to pitch yourself? Think of yourself as a mini-brand with a product for sale (you). Set the tone (remember an active reader is more responsive than a passive reader, so use interactive language and avoid flat statements). Consider who your reader is. Are they an HR Manager drowning in a sea of CVs who might not have expert knowledge of your industry, or are they your prospective line manager? The submission details for your application should provide a clue, or if not, it’s worth scouting the company’s website to see who’s who.

One thing’s for sure. Whoever first sets eyes on your CV is likely to be in a hurry and awash with CVs. And there you have your brief. You have a few seconds to make your entrance with a striking headline supported by a succinct, compelling summary of what you offer. And of course, don’t forget to clearly highlight your professional title and contact details.

Now you’ve attracted your reader’s attention, let’s take a closer look at how you can retain their engagement and build their trust through the finer detail of your CV.

2. Keep it relevant. Research the job you’re applying for. Tweak your skills and experience to make them directly relevant to the role. It’s not cheating – it’s proactive thinking.

3. Make it credible. Quantify your offering by cherry-picking impressive achievements you achieved in each role. I always like to think of it as playing-off my skills Vs my experience. There’s no need to go for the hard sell – stats earn trust. If there’s something stat-tastic to show off, pipe up! For example, on my CV I could mention my e-shot copywriting expertise and substantiate this with the fact that an e-shot I wrote sparked a record-breaking click-through rate and rocketed website conversions by 75% (as standard).

4. Easy does it. Strip out the waffle and cut to the point. Clutter dilutes core information, so highlight impressive facts and avoid repetition. It’s fine to say you developed certain skills in a job, but freshen up your offering by showcasing other skills you perfected in different roles.

5. Short, simple, sweet. I approach writing my CV in much the same way as writing an online article. Why? It’s likely that your CV will be read on-screen, so you have awoken the online vulture – you know, the one who wants to know everything NOW without being bogged down with the detail. Add this to my previous point about your readers’ teeny timeframe and you’ve suddenly got a VERY impatient audience (snarl).

Make your CV scannable. Structure it in a way which makes information easy to digest. Try this:

  • Professional title & contact details
  • Employment (most recent first)
  • Education & qualifications (again, most recent first)
  • Additional skills (such as professional training)
  • Activities (revealing your hobbies makes you more interesting).

Format your CV using sub headers, bullets, bold and italicised type – you don’t need any snazzy software. Just some Word play! Length-wise, try not to take up any more than 2 A4 pages.

6. Be confident. Believe in what you’re saying. Conviction speaks volumes.

7. Stand out. Invigorate your CV with personality (whilst of course keeping it professional). Brands win hearts then products are sold. It might be a charcoaled chestnut, but it’s true.

8. Don’t be lazy. If you can’t be bothered to make an effort with your CV, do you honestly think someone else will bother reading it? Similarly, if you find your CV boring and confusing to read, do you think it’ll be more riveting for anyone else?

9. Tell the truth. Obviously (gasp) you shouldn’t make anything up that you can’t actually do. That’s just silly, as you’ll pay for it if you get the job!

10. Are you desirable? If you follow these tips, you should make yourself irresistible (otherwise I’ll throw in the pen and become a Hairdresser). If possible, give it the overnight test and return to it the next day with a fresh eye. Or even better, show it to someone else. One final check of your CV should reveal that you are indeed hotter than the glowing embers on November’s bonfire AND that the prospective employer has no option but to invite you for an interview immediately.

Of course, if selling yourself is beyond your comfort zone, or if all of this sounds like too much hassle, you can always get a computer to magically create your CV for you. Try this automatic CV generator. (Good luck with standing out as unique.)

Coincidentally (cough, blush), you could get the best of both worlds – a killer CV that’s unique which you don’t have to create yourself. Yes of course, I’d love to be your professional CV Writer – whether you’re based in Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Sheffield, London – or beyond (thank you tinterweb).

Go for GOLD! (You don’t need any luck.)

* No flowers were crushed during the creation of this blog (but some Salsify may have been squeezed).

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