CV Writing Tips

The CV


You probably already know what a CV is. It's that piece of paper which contains an entire history of your professional life. Every application you ever do will require one so it is extremely important to have a good one.


It's incredibly harsh, but a recruiter sometimes spends on average only 10 seconds looking at your CV. Therefore you will need yours to stand out. But first let's go through the basics:


Format


Everyone will have a slightly different format CV, but all CVs should contain the same sort of information:

  • Basic Contact Info: Make sure to include your email and mobile number. If you're feeling properly confident then maybe also include a link to your LinkedIn profile if you have one.

  • A Brief Education History: Your A-level grades, a summary of GCSE grades and of course your degree. Include where you are studying, your starting and graduating years, your specific degree and your predicted score if possible. It's also good to mention any modules you are taken that are relevant to the role you are applying to. So if you've taken Foundations of Finance for an easy exam, if you're applying to a bank then you can double down on the benefits and boost your CV by mentioning you've done it on there as well.

  • Work Experience: At your age, unless you are super keen then you wouldn't have had too much work experience by this point. So to start with make sure to include all your work experience. If you have been working forever, then maybe just choose experience which is relevant for the job you're applying to. Experience can be any sort of internship, part-time job, volunteering or other work you've done. With each experience have a couple of bullet points outlining what you did in the role and any achievements or successes you had in the role.

  • Extra-Curricular Activities: Employers want to find well-rounded people rather than just completely academic people, so extra curricular activities are great to include. Have you been on a society exec? Have you been part of a sports team or theatre production cast? You may have also taken part These are good sorts of things to include. If you've held positions of responsibility like being a President or a Captain then don't be afraid to brag about these. To stand out also consider including if you've done something completely mental like jump out of a plane for charity or taken part in the Tiddlywinks World Championship etc. However do make sure to keep such an example appropriate for a professional environment, you're not going to get the job if you brag about that time you saw off 15 pints at a POP! circle.

  • Skills: An important but often forgotten section is skills. Here you outline relevant skills you have which could be relevant for the job. Good examples of these are programming languages you know, real-life languages you can speak along with any other additional qualifications you have or relevant software you've mastered. Have a Google for relevant skills for the job you're applying for.

Those were the rough sections you should have although you can pick variations on these. Quite usefully, many graduate employers have a page on their website where they tell you what format they want so do your research first.


As a general rule keep your CV to a maximum of two pages. As it won't be read for very long the CV needs to be concise and have all the important information clearly visible from the start. Many people will keep their CV to just a single page and if you've not got much experience this is probably a good guide. There are many conflicting opinions on whether 1 or 2 pages is best so it's best to first write a draft before stressing out about this. Then take your CV to the Careers Service, friends and family and discuss whether shortening it or keeping it longer would be best for what you're aiming for.


My CV is too long, how can I shorten it?


Achieving this can be as simple as messing around with Microsoft Word. Here's some tips for this situation:

  • If your font size is above 12 then you can definitely reduce it. 11 is a good size to go for. (At the same time make it big enough so it is readable!)

  • Reduce the page margins. All that white space at the top and bottom of the page can be re-purposed for juicy internship information. This is the quickest way to rapidly shorten the length of your CV. Don't completely remove the margins however. It is wise to keep at least half an inch on the margins or the CV could look a bit busy.

  • Cut anything which is completely irrelevant. If you have any bullet points which don't show off how amazing you are or what skills you've acquired, consider removing it.

  • Be concise. Like that sentence try to use as few words as possible. This will also demonstrate written communication skills which is a bonus.

Some Tips!


Here's some CV Do's and Don'ts:


DO!


  • Spellcheck! You'd be surprised that people don't actually proofread their CV before sending it off. Nothing will get your CV thrown in the bin faster than writing that you have great attention to derail.

  • Don't be afraid to brag. If you don't sell yourself and show the employer just how amazing you are, then someone with a bigger ego will and get the job ahead of you. Be proud and use this as an opportunity to show off.

  • Quantify your achievements. Instead of just saying you managed a team, how many people were in that team? If in an exec role you increased attendances at events state by what % they increased. Things like this will show the employer that you are comfortable working with numbers and make the CV more attractive to read.

  • Make a new CV for every job application. Likelihood is if you're hunting for internships you will be doing more than one application. I'm not suggesting start from the ground up each time, but tailor your bullet points and skills to be most appropriate for each different job. This can help demonstrate that you are a good fit for the role/company.



DON'T!

  • Don't lie on the CV. There is a difference between making yourself look good and being straight-up fraudulent. If you're successful in an application there will be background checks afterwards and if you've made something up you'll probably get found out.

  • Don't go too fancy on the formatting. If you're applying for a serious finance role or similar, then they don't want to see funny fonts or graphics. Keep it simple and let your achievements do the talking. However, if you are trying to go into a creative role in design or similar then it may be worth considering more creative CV options.

  • A lot of people write "References available upon request" at the end of their CV. This line in itself is a bit useless. If the employers wants you to provide a reference then they'll ask you at the right time. Scrap the line and replace it with another achievement of yours.



Once you've finished your CV leave it for a day or two and then review it to check for any improvements you may have missed earlier. Do make sure that you get some other people to read your CV before you send it off as this could make all the difference.


The University Careers Service are always open for checking CVs as well, it's their job so I would like to think they will do a good job. If you perhaps feel anxious about showing your CV to any of your friends or the people in the Careers Service, then you can reach out to WMS Careers Officer at careers@warwickmaths.org and they will help you out with it.



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