How do I write a CV?

We’re often asked, “how do I write a CV?” when people register with us. We know that when you haven’t written a CV before, the prospect can seem a little daunting. There’s lots of templates and advice available online. However, the sheer amount can sometimes be off-putting – which one should you choose and whose advice should you listen to?

There is no right or wrong answer to that. Your CV is your first introduction to an employer, so it needs to give them an idea of what value you can bring to the company, and ideally a little flavour of your personality. We’ve seen quite a few CVs in our time (to state the obvious), so we thought we’d offer our take on the subject.

What is a CV and why does it matter?

A Curriculum Vitae (or CV as we commonly say) is a short written document of your work history, qualifications, and education. Your CV is used by employers to screen job applicants and assess whether they might be right for the job. The information you put in your CV will help employers to shortlist people for interview and will often be referred to by your interviewer throughout your interview.

What should I include in my CV?

While there is a lot of variation in structure and presentation, there are some things that are expected within a CV.

  • Your personal details (name and how to contact you) – your gender and date of birth is not necessary here.
  • Work experience (with the most recent experience first) – Try and give a brief description of what you do in the job, any responsibilities you have and any training you did.
  • Education and qualifications (most recent first)
  • References (on request)

There are some other sections that you can add when writing your CV to make you stand out.

  • Personal profile or statement – this is a few lines about who you are and what you are looking for or can offer a company. This section can help grab the reader’s attention and give them context to your work history. Focus on your key skills and give the employer a reason to shortlist you. To really impress, adapt this section to the job you’re applying for.
  • Hobbies and interests – add these only if you think they might be relevant to the job or company culture or interesting to the employer. Socialising isn’t a hobby!

CV checklist

  • Keep it brief and relevant
  • Check spelling and grammar – use Editor on Word or similar
  • Choose a professional font – make sure it’s easy to read
  • Be logical in your layout and use headings and bullet points.

Bronya’s top tips

Remember this is a professional document.

  • Don’t use funny or potentially off-putting email addresses – the safest option is an email address with just your name (and numbers if needed). You can easily create a free email address from Google, Outlook, or others.
  • Consider your social presence online – don’t use a profile photo that might put an employer off and check your privacy settings.
  • Be honest – don’t get caught out in interview with something that isn’t real on your CV. If you’re open and honest you are more likely to find a job that’s right for you.
  • If you’re on LinkedIn, make sure your work history matches your CV.
  • Keep it short and sweet – 2 pages is ideal. If you’re running out of space, give priority to your newest experience and qualifications.
  • Tackle any gaps in your work history head on and supply brief reasons for them, expanding in a cover letter if it is necessary. Put a positive spin on any gaps, drawing attention to any useful skills or experience.
  • Think about the language you are using – this isn’t the same as writing a social profile aimed at your friends. Remember you are writing to a hiring manager and stick to professional language.
  • If you’re just entering the world of work, don’t worry. Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn will go a long way and you can make the most of your extracurricular activities and hobbies to show transferable skills. Show that you know what you’re aiming at and how you plan to contribute to the company.
  • Register with a recruitment agency – when we meet with you, we will find everything we need to increase your chances with an employer, so your CV won’t be your only tool in your job search toolbox.

Find a CV template that you like online and get writing – almost all employers, recruitment agencies, and job sites will ask you for one.

How Octopus can help.

If you would like support writing your CV for the first time, we can help you. Once you’re registered with us, we can set up a CV writing appointment with Anna or Katherine and they will guide you through the process and even print copies for you. Call us on 01747 825568 to make a CV appointment.

If you’ve never registered with an agency before, you can read our blog How to register with a recruitment agency or give us a call on 01747 825568.

Bronya Tanner

About the author

I look after the office here at Octopus and will usually be the first person you speak to. I keep everyone organised and ready for the day ahead and love that we all work as a team to help find the right job matches.

At home I am a keen baker and have my own Insta food blog! I’ve already made the odd Showstopper for our Octopus events and my Signature bake would have to be a celebration cake.

5 ways to deal with interview rejection and plan your next steps

 5 ways to deal with interview rejection and plan your next steps

Have you ever received that dreaded interview rejection phone call or email? It can be tough, but Alice Weeks, Octopus Personnel Recruitment Consultant, explains why you shouldn’t feel dejected or disheartened. Instead you can use this experience to positively plan the next steps in your job search.

 

Any recruiter will tell you that the interview rejection phone call is a tough one to make – especially if the candidate has prepared well for the interview.  The way you handle interview rejection is just as important as the skills on your CV when it comes to securing a new role. If you allow interview rejection to knock your confidence and make you doubt your abilities, it could negatively affect your performance in future interviews.

So when you get that call, here are a few things to remember to keep you positive, optimistic and motivated, and help you plan what to do next.

5 point plan to deal with rejection and move forward

1. Rejection is not feedback

Whilst you may not have secured this role, that doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong!  At Octopus Personnel, we always follow up on interviews and give feedback to candidates.

Next step: Listen to what you did right (so you can do it again next time) and think about the areas that could be improved. Act on that feedback!

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2. It’s not personal

It is very easy to take rejection personally.  However, most of the reasons behind hiring decisions will not be made apparent to you. You may have performed excellently but there could be other factors at play. For example, there may have been a strong internal candidate who is already familiar with the business, or another candidate with slightly more relevant experience than you. These are things you cannot change.  Focus on the positives you are given in the feedback, be aware of any advice in terms of areas to improve and move forward positively.

Next step: Revisit your CV to remind yourself of your strengths. Annotate your CV with examples that worked well in this interview.

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3. A fresh approach

Approach each new job opportunity with a fresh perspective and a positive attitude. Tailor your CV to best match a new opportunity and fully research and prepare for a new interview. If you made mistakes or felt unprepared in your last interview – learn from this but don’t keep it at the forefront of your mind, it will only make you nervous.

Every company and hiring manager is different and will have a different idea of the ‘ideal candidate’. Keep a fresh approach while remaining true to your personality and experience.  Your Octopus Personnel consultant will prepare you beforehand with details about the interview and role. You can then support this with your own research about the company.  Put in the work each time.

Next step:  Start preparing for the next interview with the same commitment and vigour.

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4. Keep learning and developing

Whilst that interview rejection phone call might not be the one you are hoping for, there are still things you can do to keep making a difference to your morale, motivation and employability.  A part-time training course or webinar, a charity project, mentorship or a voluntary position in a company of interest can keep your skills sharpened and your experience relevant and up to date.  If you are not working, temping can be an excellent way to learn new skills and add to your professional contacts.

By keeping professionally active in this way, you can aid ongoing development, boost confidence, give yourself a focus outside your job hunt and provide a discussion point in your next interview.

Next step:  Seek out other opportunities to keep your skills and experience relevant and up to date.

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5. Always leave room for Plan B

Don’t pin your hopes on one specific job in the belief that it’s a perfect fit. If you don’t get that job, the rejection can be harder to take.  Think about each interview as a point along the journey to your next role. It’s also smart to pursue multiple opportunities, even when you are particularly invested in one role.

Next step:  Whilst you should tailor your CV and research for each role, you can apply for multiple roles at the same time.  Take an organised approach to make sure you don’t get the details of each role confused.

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Have I convinced you?  What have you got to lose?

At Octopus Personnel, we are experts at presenting our candidates to ensure the employer is able to see all the skills and experience you are bringing to a role.  Years of industry expertise and outstanding relationships with our clients means that we are perfectly positioned within the market to guide you to your new role and interview success.

You can sign up here or call the team on 01747 825568 to set up an appointment to register with us.

 

 

 

 

Alice Weeks

About the author

I specialise in temporary recruitment and I’m always planning ahead, but manage to fill those last minute gaps! I really enjoy the buzz of the Octopus Office and no two days are the same. For me, it’s really important to get to know my candidates so I can support them on assignments and get the best from them.

I love baking so working in the Octopus Office with a monthly bake-off is a dream come true. I am a great listener and I know the power of a well-timed cup of tea and a biscuit!