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National Careers Week 2016 – The best CV tips

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Your CV could be the ticket to your success so, love them or hate them; you need to make sure yours represent you in the best light possible.

Although it may be daunting to consider the other hundreds of applications the HR department would have sifted through, it is also important to keep that in mind when you are structuring and formatting yours because you need yours to stand out. That includes perfect grammar and spelling, a clear layout, a strong style and sharp languages that cuts out any waffle.

After some trial and error, employer feedback and CV writing workshops (which, if your university offers them I would highly recommend) these are the top tips I’ve learned for a polished CV to boost your chances of an interview or second round:

1. Write a new CV for every job application you do: this may sound tedious and time consuming but rearranging and adding relevant information for each application is essential when proving your enthusiasm. A tailor-made CV that focuses on the skills and requirements for this particular job will look much better than a generic ‘send to all’ one so be sure to move any relevant technical skills or experience higher up the page.

2. Keep it clean and simple: you want your CV to stand out but playing around with fonts, colours and shapes can often end up looking confusing and less professional. Try to keep it to one page and be ruthless with what you include because it shows you’ve identified your key skills rather than adding irrelevant information about your hobbies.

3. List your experience chronologically: bear in mind that whoever is looking at the applications will have limited time and should be able to get the most important information about your recent experience from a quick glance at the top of your CV. The easier you make it to read and digest, the better your chances of it being added to the ‘yes’ pile.

4. Check with your references: it’s a good idea to write ‘references available on request’ somewhere on your CV but make sure you have checked with your referee in advance and ensure they would be happy to vouch for your skills if asked to. If you just assume they will help then their answers may be less than favourable and you will look unprepared.

5. Proofread: I know I’ve mentioned it before but I can’t stress enough how important accurate grammar, spelling and punctuation is. Employers are looking for a reason to cut down on the amount of applications so don’t let silly mistakes be the reason yours gets cut.

6. Be wary of mission statements: phrases like “I’m a people person” or “I’m an enthusiastic and driven person” can come across cheesy or cliché so avoid them where possible. Instead opt for factual statements that can be backed up by your CV such as “I have a strong range of online skills” or “I am proficient at a variety of social media platforms” which can then be proven by the skills and experience listed on your CV.

But most of all, update your CV as you learn a new skill or gain new experience to save a huge time consuming task when it comes to job hunting, applications or any other career prospect you're looking at. That way you spend less time back tracking and avoid forgetting to note valuable points on your CV that could be your ticket to clinching that opportunity you're going for!

Elinore Court lives at Liberty House in London, she is studying a masters degree in Magazine Journalism at City University.

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