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How to write an effective CV

How to Write an Effective CV

As you may be able to imagine, we have seen literally thousands of construction sector CV’s over the years. As such, we have developed a deep understanding of what does and doesn’t work and our advice is set out below.

How Important is a CV?

There’s a school of thought that the CV is losing its relevancy in todays socially connected, fast paced world. Whilst there is some merit to the argument that you can’t rely on a CV alone, it is still universally accepted as the first official chance to sell yourself to a potential employer.

That’s why it is still vitally important you take the time to craft an up-to-date CV that promotes your achievements in the strongest way possible. Never send a half-hearted curriculum vitae expecting to make your mark during an interview. You may never get the opportunity.

Where to Start

Like anything in life that’s worth doing, a good CV starts with planning and research. There are hundreds of resources online that you can use to your advantage. Use these to find out what CV formats are most effective for your industry, ask your colleagues if they have had success with a particular style or format, and research your prospective employer to see if they have a preferred CV type.

It’s also beneficial to tailor your CV to the role you are applying for. This means that dragging up the CV you used to get your current job 8 years ago, and simply adding an additional paragraph about your current experience isn’t going to cut it.

Remember: you might be competing against 100’s of other applicants, what’s going to make them pick your CV over everyone else?

CV Structure

The general rule of thumb is to keep your CV to a maximum of two pages long. There are numerous reasons for this, it demonstrates your ability to communicate efficiently, it keeps the reader interested and it tells just enough to encourage them to find out more.

There are exceptions to this rule in other industries but unless you have an extremely good reason to, try to avoid using more than two pages.

You have the choice of writing your CV in two different ways:

  • Chronological
  • Skills Based (Functional)

A chronological CV follows a standard format of tracking your career progression through education to current day.

Skills based CV’s are formatted in sections which reflect a breakdown of the individual’s skill set and work achievements that pertain to each skill.

We recommend a chronological approach when applying for a role in the same industry that reflects natural career progression, and a skills based approach when seeking to change industries or job roles.

Formatting and Spelling

It’s important not to get too caught up in formatting. The main thing to remember is: readability.

Thus, keep your CV easy to scan by focussing on clear headings, short paragraphs and bullet point skill lists where necessary. Avoid repetition, large blocks of text and any distracting graphics or images.

There should be no spelling mistakes. Don’t just rely on spell check. Print off your CV and leave it overnight. Check it with a fresh pair of eyes in the morning. It can also be useful to read it from back to front as this tricks the brain from settling into a reading pattern and makes it easier to identify duplicate words and silly errors.

CV Content

Listed below are the key points you must cover to build an effective and well-rounded CV.

The trick is in balancing out how much emphasis you give each area. As a general guide, if you are applying for a junior role and have little relevant work experience your education, interests and skills will be most relevant.

When applying for senior positions, your work history and past experience performing relevant tasks will be most beneficial.

    1. Personal Details
      It goes without saying but you’d be surprised how many people miss the basics. Include your name and multiple contact details – you can’t get an interview if no one can get hold of you.
    2. Educational Background
      Include your most recent and relevant education history. Focus on higher/further education and details of specific training relevant to the role for which you are applying. Avoid an in-depth break down of your early school years.
    3. Work ExperienceHere you should offer your work history beginning with your most recent role. Provide company names, job titles and dates of employment. State your main responsibilities and key achievements, using evidence wherever possible.
    4. Skills
      List any skills that may help you stand out from other candidates. This includes language skills, computing experience, evidence of leadership skills, possession of driving and other licences…anything that can give you an edge in your industry.
    5. Personal Interests
      Keep it brief, but this is a chance to demonstrate your personality and character to show you are a well-rounded individual. If possible try to focus on interests that relate to the job you are applying for in some way. Provide links to any published articles or personal websites.
    6. References
      Aim to included two references either from former employment or higher education. Be sure to gain referees permission before including their contact details on your CV.
    7. Extras
      If you have room you may wish to include an opening statement. This is usually one or two well written lines that sum up your skills and aspirations. If done properly this can act as a hook into the rest of the CV.

Now you know how to write an effective CV, why not read our Interview Tips.