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How to Write a CV - People on Paper

We offer up some CV tips and advice for you to create your own employee brand and stand out from the crowd of other applications.
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CV is short for Curriculum Vitae, which translates loosely as - the course of my life. It should provide an outline of your academic and professional achievements, refer to your unique skills, character, experience and offer an insight into who you are as an individual. 

That's a lot to get in! Especially when the majority of sources advise a CV length of 2-3 pages maximum.

So how do you do it in an effective and impactful way? 

Our Associate Director, Alex Pitts, has delivered a talk titled 'People on Paper' to a variety of audiences including students and experienced tech professionals. In this article, we will pick out the key highlights - including CV basics, templates and things to avoid. 

The Basics - What you need to include in your CV:

Contact Details

When it comes to email addresses, make sure yours is professional. 

Personal Profile / Summary

This is an opportunity to tailor your CV to each application without writing a full covering letter. 6-10 lines is ideal. Make it punchy and highlight your ability within the essential skills and experience required for the role.

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Education / Acadamic Qualifications

Most relevant, recent qualifications first. Don't feel the need to list every GSCE and A Level result if it's not needed! 10 GCSEs Grades A-C including Maths, Chemistry and English may suffice. 

Work Experience 

Reverse chronological order again here. Break each role down and make it easy to understand for the employer. They should understand where you sit within the organisation, how your contributions have benefitted each employer and how you are likely to add value in the future.

Skills & Achievements

Depending on each application, this is a section that may need to preceed Education and Work Experience. This is often the case in the Tech and Digital sector.

Interests and Hobbies

Create talking points for the interview and make sure an employer sees you as more than a list of skills and experience. 


"Available on request." Saves you some space that you can be more impactful with further up.  

Then, before you start to write your CV, take a step back. 
Think about the story that you are going to tell. This should factor in the role you are applying for and the industry sector you're working in. What is the best structure going to be for your CV? 
Have you put yourself at the centre of the story and created a strong employee brand? 

Alex Pitts - Recruitment Director

Top Tips

Use a simple font
This makes the CV look professional and easy to read. Make sure you use the same font throughout and use bold and underline to clearly signpost different sections of the CV. 
Don't add a photo to your CV
There are not many industries that require a photo on your application - so don't offer an opportunity for there to be formatting issues or to have your application judged. 
Avoid lots of images
Putting small logos in the CV for company names or qualifications can lead to a large document size and poor formatting when opening in other applications. This is especially the case when working with a recruitment consultant. 
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Rating your skills
We advise against rating yourself out of 10 for a given skill. It's subjective and could cause issues further into the process if you under-deliver on the expectation you have set. Use tangible facts - i.e. 3 years experience using PHP with Laravel framework for scalable web application development. 
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Use bullet points
These can add clarity to your CV and help draw the eye of the reader to highlights. 
Name your document professionally
An email with the attachement - 2nd CV draft - Feb - isn't going to look too good!
Include facts and figures
Particularly for the likes of Sales - where targets and KPIs are involved. 

In Summary

You may require different versions of your CV depending on the jobs that you are applying for. Depending on each job, you may choose to provide more or less detail for some areas of previous work history or academic achievement. It is important to focus on providing more information to address topics and competencies the prospective employer is going to be interested in. 

Keep you CV to a maximum of 3 pages. If you have recently graduated or you are early in your career, 2 pages should suffice. You can add further detail with a covering letter or portfolio of work, the CV is a summary. 

Get someone to check over your CV before you make applications! There are plenty of free resources at your disposal, and specialist recruitment agencies can also help you out here - they know their customers better than anyone and they will happily discuss your CV with you and it won't cost you anything. 

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People on Paper

If you would like to know more about the People on Paper CV workshop talk get in touch with Alex Pitts. 
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