You know how to write a CV, but to impress employers with a great CV, follow our top 29 CV writing tips designed to help you get a job in 2022.
CV writing tips
Here are some tips that’ll help your CV head to the top of the recruiter’s list:
Structure your CV title so recruiters can easily identify you, find your application quickly later, and contact you. Here’s how to write a standout CV title:
1. Don’t use ‘Curriculum Vitae’ as your title
Using ‘Curriculum Vitae’ as a title wastes space. Instead, put ‘Curriculum Vitae’ or ‘CV’ in the file name, and use your name as the main title on your CV to make finding your application later easier for employers.
2. Make sure your contact details are up to date
Employers use the contact details you provide on your CV to get back to you. If you’ve switched phone numbers or started using a new email address, make sure those details are up to date on your CV.
Employers are only likely to try a couple of times to get in touch, and they won’t bother trying to track you down if they can’t reach you.
3. Add some colour
A good CV header uses colour to draw the recruiter’s attention. But don’t choose distracting bright colours because they’re too overwhelming for the reader and seem unprofessional.
Instead, darker colours like dark blues, greens, and maroons are good choices for formal CVs. Neon and bright colours are only acceptable if you’re applying for a creative role (for example, if you’re writing a graphic design CV) because they help highlight your creativity.
Here’s what a standard CV looks like with a professional amount of colour:
One colour (and black and white) is enough to help your CV stand out.
4. Remove your postal address
When writing an email cover letter, don’t add your postal address to your CV because most employers will either call or email you.
Plus, if your address is far from your target company’s location, the employer may not consider you, even if you’re planning to relocate for the job.
5. Use a professional email address
Consider setting up a new email address just for your job search. For example, [email protected] By doing this, your main email won’t be overwhelmed with job site newsletters and spam — these emails can be especially annoying after you’ve found a job.
6. Include relevant online profiles
Place your relevant online profiles in your CV header. Examples of profiles that showcase your skills and accomplishments are your LinkedIn, blog, or portfolio.
If you’re sending your CV by email, hyperlink your profiles so recruiters can view them easily.
Your CV’s personal statement shows the employer:
- who you are
- the value you bring to the company
- your suitability for the position
- your career goals
Here are some CV personal statement writing tips:
7. Be brief
Your personal statement should summarise your relevant experience and skills in 50–200 words. If you make your statement too long, reviewers may lose patience and move on to the next application.
8. Target the job you want
Tailor your personal statement to each job you apply for by highlighting skills suitable for that position.
Tell the employer who you are and how much professional experience you have in the first sentence. In the second sentence, show your skills and prove your suitability for the position. Finally, state your relevant career goals in the third sentence.
Here’s an example of a personal statement targeting a customer service position:
Enthusiastic and driven professional with 7+ years of experience providing exceptional customer service and exceeding sales goals. Skilled communicator and problem solver with a proven ability to interact with multicultural populations, demonstrating patience and professionalism to resolve difficult situations.
9. Write based on your experience level
Writing a new graduate or school leaver CV and lack work accomplishments so far? That’s okay. Employers expect to read about your career objectives and skills in your personal statement.
Here’s an example of a strong entry-level CV personal statement:
A recent mathematics graduate with 1 year of internship experience in data science and engineering. Recognised for consistently solving critical problems, reaching project goals, and meeting deadlines. Seeking to apply problem-solving skills in a position at TAR Solutions.
If you’re an experienced applicant, feature your top accomplishments in your statement. Use hard numbers to give your capabilities context. For example:
Digital marketing specialist with 8 years’ ecommerce experience. Increased sales by 47% through implementing customer trend reports and competitive analysis. Hoping to bring an exceptional standard of digital marketing to House Media.
The work experience section of your CV summarises your relevant employment and work achievements. Here are CV writing tips for making an impressive work history section:
10. Write accomplishments, not responsibilities
Many applicants simply list their responsibilities under each job title in their work experience section. Employers won’t be impressed by your daily tasks, so focus on the results you achieved instead.
Here’s how to improve a poorly written work experience entry by adding an accomplishment:
- Answered 90+ phone calls daily
- Answered 90+ phone calls daily, earning a company-best 97.6% customer satisfaction score
11. Add hard numbers to your experience
Use hard numbers to quantify your accomplishments and give the employer an idea of how you can help their company succeed.
These examples show how adding hard numbers to your CV provides context for your accomplishments:
- Increased sales every quarter
- Increased sales by 15%+ in 6 consecutive quarters
12. Be honest
When you write your work experience section, remember that your prospective employer may ring your former employers to verify your CV’s content.
If you get caught lying on a CV, you won’t get your target job, and your former employer may refuse to give you a reference in future. You can even be jailed for lying on your CV.
Here’s how to write your CV’s education section:
13. List your highest level of education first
Outline your education in reverse-chronological order to give the recruiter a sense of what your specialities are. Stick to this order:
- university degrees
- vocational qualifications
- A-Levels (Highers/Advanced Highers in Scotland)
- GCSEs (N5s in Scotland)
14. Include relevant modules
Some companies prefer to hire candidates who’ve completed particular modules or certifications. Tailor your education section to match the requirements of the job description and include any relevant modules you’ve taken and qualifications you have.
Here’s an example of a strong CV education section with a list of job-relevant modules:
When employers read your CV, they’re looking for job-specific skills that prove you can do the job you’re applying for.
Here are some tips for including the right skills on your CV:
15. Show both technical and transferable skills
Here’s a list of hard skills to highlight on your CV, depending on what industry you work in:
- Computer skills
- Coding languages
- Exercise or sports techniques
- Industry-specific software
- Legal knowledge
- Equipment operation
By contrast, these soft skills are abilities that employers value:
- Decision making
16. Give examples of you using your skills in a professional environment
When you write your CV’s skills section, include examples of how you’ve applied your skills. For instance, here’s how a sales manager can show their organisational and leadership skills on a skills-based CV:
- Organisational skills: Helped implement a new inventory tracking system, improving organisational efficiency by 25%
- Leadership: Successful mentoring of new hires led to promotion to manager of a 5-salesperson team
17. Only include relevant skills on your CV
Maximise your chances of getting an interview by only highlighting skills relevant to your target position on your CV. To determine which skills to showcase, read the job description and include skills listed by the recruiter (if you have them).
Additionally, you can research other similar job descriptions to find valuable skills for the job you want.
Other CV writing tips
Here are some more CV improvement tips if you’re still trying to perfect your CV:
18. Update your CV regularly
The best way to write a CV is to update it regularly throughout your career until you have a document that highlights all your best qualifications and achievements.
19. Add extra sections to your CV
If you’ve got space at the bottom of your CV, add a hobbies and interests section to highlight your relevant personality traits.
Also, you can create sections to emphasise your awards, professional certifications, and publications.
20. Insert keywords from the job advert
The job advert you’re responding to includes skills-based keywords. Add these skills to your CV, if they’re skills you have.
Many companies program their applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan for these keywords in your CV. If your CV doesn’t include these words, it’s likely to never even make it to the employer.
21. Don’t confuse a CV with a resume
These similar terms sometimes confuse people. Simply put, the difference between a CV and a resume is that ‘CV’ is the word used in the UK, Ireland, and the rest of Europe to describe a document you use to apply for jobs. The word ‘resume’ is the term used in the US and Canada for roughly the same document.
If you’re thinking of moving to the US, you should learn how to write a resume instead of a CV. While these documents are mostly the same, you’re encouraged to stick to one page in a resume (whereas CVs have no length restrictions).
22. Pick strong adjectives and verbs
Choosing powerful verbs and adjectives to describe your skills and achievements helps your application stand out. Here are overused CV words and phrases that won’t impress employers, followed by strong alternatives:
- Suggested → Inspired
- Hardworking → Diligent
- Worked on → Developed
- Driven → Determined
- Supervised → Inspired
- Experienced → Accomplished
23. Don’t mention references on your CV
On a CV, don’t waste valuable space by adding a list of references. There’s also no need to note ‘references available upon request’. The employer will ask for your references when they’ve decided to proceed with your application.
Instead, use the space you’ve saved to add more details on your skills, experience, or qualifications.
24. Use proofreading aids
Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors in your CV make your application appear sloppy. Avoid submitting a CV with embarrassing mistakes by:
- using online tools like Grammarly, ProWritingAid, and Hemingway App to catch errors and improve your grammar as you write
- reading your CV out loud to find mistakes your eyes missed
- asking someone else to proofread for you
- editing again to ensure your proofreader’s changes are error-free
CV layout tips
A good CV layout highlights your most relevant skills, achievements, and experience. Here are five tips for structuring your CV to grab the employer’s attention by showing them your value:
25. Order your sections according to your experience level
Break your CV into sections to make it easier to understand and read. Important sections to put in your CV include:
- CV personal statement
- work experience
- key skills section
Most recruiters only read the top half of your CV before deciding whether to read the rest of it if they’re interested. So present your most relevant information first, based on your level of experience:
- Professionals with a lot of experience: highlight work experience first
- Entry-level applicants: emphasise relevant skills
- School leavers and recent graduates: lead with education
26. Fit everything on 2 pages
How many pages your CV should be depends on your work history and the role you’re applying for.
Ideally, your CV should have only 2 pages. Any longer and a CV becomes tedious to read. You also run the risk of the employer losing a page if they print or forward your CV to a colleague.
However, if you have a decade or more of relevant work experience, you can use 3 or more pages.
Also, academic CVs have no page limit. If you’re applying for a teaching or academic research position, employers expect your CV to include all of your relevant academic achievements, special projects, and publications.
27. Use standard spacing and margins to fill every page
Maximise the space on your CV by setting your line spacing and margins within the standard UK sizes:
- Line spacing: 1–1.5
- Margins: 1.27–2.5 cm
Increase your margins and reduce your line spacing if you’re trying to fit excess text onto your CV.
Your goal should be to spread your information evenly across each page. Too little white space makes your CV appear packed and chaotic. Too much white space gives the employer the impression that you don’t have much to offer.
28. Choose an easy-to-read font
The best font for your CV is one that’s clear, professional, and easy to read. Your font should also be industry appropriate.
For example, traditional serif fonts like Times New Roman, Garamond, Didot, Cambria, and Georgia are perfect for CVs in formal industries like finance, law, and politics.
If you’re writing a creative CV, use a sans serif font that expresses your creativity without sacrificing readability. Sans serif fonts like Calibri, Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, and Trebuchet MS are simple and stylish.
The standard font size for CV headings and body text in the UK is between 10.5 and 12 points. However, you can use a larger font size for your headers to make them stand out.
Just maintain consistent font types and sizes throughout your CV.
29. Create structure with bold and italic headers
Use bold and italic in your CV’s headers to make a visual CV that guides the reviewer to important sections.
Here’s an example of a CV work experience section that properly applies bold and italic headers: