CV writing: How to write a CV for success in 2019

CV writing

Writing a fantastic CV and getting it right the first time will mean the difference between getting offers for an interview or rejection after rejection. If you feel you have the right skills and qualifications for a role and you can’t seem to make it to the interview stage, it could just be that your CV needs more work – and we’re here to help!

Much has changed over the past few years, and with the abundance of online resources at the touch of a button, finding CV writing help has never been easier.

This is the good news – so what’s the catch?

The catch is that the quality of CV applications has risen dramatically, and with so many fantastic CVs to choose from the employer’s expectations have also risen along with it. Everything has to be perfect, from the CV template to the font you choose; from the layout and the spacing; to the eye catching presentation – you can’t afford to get anything wrong when faced with so many other candidates who will get it right!

This guide will explain CV writing for 2019 to help you land your dream job.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.” ~ Albert Einstein

What is a CV? 

This might seem a bit obvious – a work history, right? But when you actually read the definition of a CV it starts to make you realise that there is much more to it. So what is a CV and what’s it meant to achieve?

Short for Curriculum Vitae, the CV is the standard way of contacting an employer to apply for a position that has become available. Essentially the CV is used to showcase your skills and effectively sell yourself to a prospective employer.

The CV is designed to show the employer that you have the skills, qualifications and experience that they’ve requested via the job advert and therefore that  you are the right person for the job. In some cases you may also be required to attach a cover letter or complete an application form, and this is another opportunity to spell out how you meet the job specification.  Your current skill set and achievements to date should for the most part match the request of the employer for them to consider you for an interview – in some instances there may be mandatory requests. Upon reading your CV the employer will then make a decision as to whether or not you are the right person and if you are worthy of an interview.

For more info on writing the perfect cover letter, see our article: ‘How to write a winning cover letter: what to include‘.

Now that you’ve read a definition of what a CV is and should do, are you happy that yours achieves what it should? A CV in 2019 and beyond has to live up to expectations, and if you want to keep up and even get ahead of your competition, here’s what to include in your CV:

CV writing for 2019

Although some parts of the CV can be quite flexible and don’t have to conform to what would be considered a standard format, there are certain sections that the hiring manager would expect to see. So feel free to be creative if you wish – but not too creative! Here are the sections that should be included in your CV for 2019:

Your name, professional title and contact details 

Try not to fall into the trap of using the title ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top of the page, as this is no longer done in 2019. Instead you should have your name, professional title (if you have one) and contact details right at the top ensuring that your name and title stand out the most.

Your contact details do not have to be any larger than the font size you use for the rest of your CV, but you may decide to go slightly bigger if you wish or use bold for your email and mobile number. The idea behind making your name and title stand out is to ensure you are more memorable. If you keep your name and title small it will blend in with the rest of your CV and is not usually what an employer expects to see.

Including photo when writing CV

Wondering whether to include a CV photo? Read our article: Should I include a CV photo?

A professional title would apply to someone qualified in a specific area – like a solicitor for example. If you do not have a professional title or are considering a change in career, then you of course miss this title off – which isn’t a problem. It should however be noted that if you do have a professional title then you should always have it alongside your name as this would be expected by the employer and would seem unusual if it wasn’t there.

Finally, some people choose to include their digital profile handles in this section, such as LinkedIn and Twitter. If you are actively involved in your industry on such sites, this can give you a huge competitive advantage over other candidates.

“Your digital footprints speak volumes than your CV” ~ Bernard Kelvin Clive

Contact details

Your contact details are essential and you should state your address, email address and contact number.

It’s worth noting that you should only use a professional email address and not something silly. For example, don’t use ‘darthvadar666@hotmail.com’ and instead use your name like this – ‘john.smith1977@gmail.com’. Although some bosses might find it funny to see that you’re a fan of Star Wars it could also backfire. You don’t want to make a bad impression right from the start, and you’d be surprised at how often a CV gets rejected just from something like this!

Always use an email address that doesn’t attract a lot of spam, as you don’t want an important reply to get lost within everything else. It’s usually a good idea to create a new email address when job hunting so you don’t miss anything – and it will also allow you to create that professional address.

Create a new gmail address when writing your CV

One aspect of CV writing that some candidates get wrong is to include additional and unnecessary detail here. You should not, for example, include your marital status, whether or not you have children, your nationality or race, or whether or not you have a disability – unless they have a direct relevance to the role. Generally none of these factors have a bearing on whether or not you can do the job and they only open you up to the risk of discrimination.

A professional ‘profile’ 

The profile is a crucial aspect of CV writing as it tells the hiring manager in a few words why they should hire you! Your profile should go underneath your contact details and is the first thing an employer reads. This has to catch the attention of the reader immediately, and is possibly one of the most important aspects of a CV because it has the job of making that great first impression.

This can also go under the title of ‘personal statement’ or ‘ career objective’, and will aim to provide the employer with an overview of who you are, what you are able to offer to the company and the role, and what your career goals are. Your profile should always be short and to the point, and doesn’t have to go into any further detail.
Slick headers CV template

Above: An example of the personal profile in our ‘Slick Headers’ CV template – get the template here.

Work experience and history 

This part of the CV is the most crucial aspect of CV writing. The standard way to complete this section of your CV is to list all of your previous job titles along with the tasks and responsibilities. This should be done in reverse chronological order starting with your most recent role. An employer would naturally be more interested in seeing what you’ve been up to recently to help them decide upon your application.

A CV written in 2019 has to go that one step further for this section if you want to have a shot at an interview, and here’s how you do it. The first thing to do is to only focus upon the most recent and relevant roles. A job you held ten years ago that has little to no relevance to the new role you are applying for should just have a small list of tasks. There is no need to go into any detail for these roles as it will only take up valuable space.

In addition to highlighting the recent and relevant roles you should also look to show the employer what you achieved, any outstanding results including stats, and how you made an impact during your time. The hiring manager is not only interested in what you did but also how you performed. This could be the amount of sales and revenue you made, to an instance of how you dealt with a customer complaint.

Showing promotions and how you achieved them is also a great way to impress the employer, along with any accolades and qualifications you received. Any internal and external awards must go down on your CV to further add weight to your career history.

Don’t forget to use bullet points where possible and keep every sentence short and to the point. Spacing is crucial when it comes to a long list of job titles and tasks so take a step back once you have everything on the page and consider how easy it is to read. If you have any doubts ask a friend to check over it for you and have them give you their feedback on how it looks.

For more tips on what to write in this section, read our article: How to create the perfect employment history section for your CV

Example of CV writing

A number of our templates have space to highlight exceptional achievements when writing your CV, such as the ‘Example’ template above: View and download it here.

“Every experience in your life is being orchestrated to teach you something you need to know to move forward.” ~ Brian Tracy, Entrepreneur, Professional Speaker, Best Selling Author & Success Expert.

Education and qualifications

Although this section might seem like a relatively straightforward aspect of CV writing, there are a few crucial points to consider.

  • When completing the education section, lots of candidates will list their GCSEs, A-levels, college/university degrees, professional qualifications and so on. This list should again be in reverse chronological order with further details only being provided if relevant to a new role. Don’t forget to include the institution where the qualifications where achieved, along with the grade and the year.
  • The types of qualifications and achievements can differ greatly from candidate to candidate, and someone who has many years of work experience, or higher level qualifications, may decide to leave off their earliest of school qualifications and education if it is not deemed necessary or relevant.
  • You may also have picked up a few internal/industry training qualifications along the way. A mechanic for instance may have attended many courses over the years with a manufacturer like BMW. These should all be listed with further details of what was taught and learned during the course if you feel it would be helpful and relevant to an employer.
  • Sometimes employers also offer their own internal training, like managerial or marketing. Although this isn’t an actual accredited qualification it still may be something you want to include to show how you progressed within your previous role and the company, particularly if it is relevant to the role you’re applying for. By including such training you are demonstrating how you are always looking to progress your career, constantly learning new skills and staying focused on development.

CV writing example

Sometimes including lower level qualifications may be beneficial where they relate to the position applied for. View and download the above ‘centred focus’ template.

Core skills 

The core or key skills section would typically go underneath the personal profile of your CV. Ideally you want to use bullet points to highlight between 4 – 6 key skills that relate to the role you are applying for.

This aspect of CV writing is sometimes ignored but it is critical! One of the best ways to identify the skills an employer is looking for is from the job advert. You want to try and word any matching skills as closely as possible to make it easier for the hiring manager to tick one or all off of their list.

Essentially a CV is a way to prove to the employer that you are the right person for the job by showcasing the right skills, qualifications and experience. The core skills section is a perfect example of how that can be done on your CV by showcasing those 4 – 6 skills that closely relate or even match exactly what the employer is looking for.

You can further supercharge your CV by explaining WHY you have the skills claimed: watch this awesome video on writing the CV skills section from Author, Speaker and Interview Coach Don Georgevich which explains exactly how.

Hobbies and interests 

This section is usually deemed as the least important part of CV writing, but such an approach is a huge missed opportunity to your advantage and add value to your application. The hobbies and interests of a potential employee can be quite intriguing to a hiring manager who has to sit and read so many CVs, and when faced with such an arduous task can bring a little light into the process.

What is often lacking from a CV is personality, which isn’t the candidates fault but mainly the format in which the CV is written and expected. To inject some personality and creativity into your CV you can consider a more unexpected approach to this section. For example, a musician could provide links to their band page or YouTube videos of live performances. Someone who paints in their spare time might like to link to their own website showcasing their talents, and so on.

Another way this section can be valuable is where it shows the employer that you take an interest in your personal health, such as through going to the gym. This translates to less sick days!

There can be a downside to adding this section and that’s if you list mundane hobbies, like watching movies, reading or socialising with friends on a weekend. There is nothing special or interesting about this, and could actually negatively impact your CV (socialising at the weekends = Monday hangovers!). If you are going to include your hobbies you better make sure they are interesting and valuable from an employer’s perspective.
Dumbell

Back and joint pain are the second biggest source of absences in the workplace. Hobbies that keep you fit suggest to an employer that you’ll be less likely to have sick days.

Read our article to find out more: Does the hobbies & interests section of my CV matter?

General CV writing tips

It doesn’t matter how qualified you are for a job if your CV isn’t representing your achievements in the best possible light. There is no rule to exactly how a CV should look, so a good way to decide if your CV has that wow factor is to take a step back once it’s finished and see how it looks following these set of CV writing rules:

  • Does it have adequate spacing between each section?
  • Does it use bullet points where necessary?
  • Does it get straight to the point?
  • Are your contact details correct?
  • Have you proofread your CV for spelling and grammatical errors?
  • Does your chosen font look professional? (Garamond or Open Sans are good choices)
  • Is your chosen font the right size to read – not too big and not too small?
  • Have you tailored your CV to the role and is it relevant?
  • Have you correctly added headers for each section?
CV writing for 2019 means using a CV template. Gone are the days when you’d be staring at a blank page trying to figure out how to add lines and create each section, and with such a huge selection of ready made professional CV templates to choose from you no longer have this problem. Check out our CV template collection for lots to choose from.

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