How to personalise your curriculum vitae or résumé template
There is no one “right” way to create and present your curriculum vitae but the following universal tips always need to be followed:
1. It is targeted to the specific role or career area you are aiming for and highlights the most relevant skills you have.
2. It is meticulously and clearly set out, in the order your recruiter will expect, easy to read and not crowded.
3. It is informative but succinct.
4. It is devoid of any spelling and grammar errors. If you mention attention to detail as a skill, make sure your grammar and spelling is awesome.
In addition to these ‘musts’, here are our top tips for customising this template:
1. Keep evolving
If your curriculum vitae is written the wrong way round on vibrant pink paper and it gets you regular interviews, why consider modifying it? The bottom line is that if it is producing results, don’t be too quick to meddle with what works. By contrast, if it’s not getting you results, ask people you know to look it over and suggest changes. Having said this, if you go with the template on this page as your starting point, you’re unlikely to get it wrong.
2. Use keywords
If you have uploaded your curriculum vitae to a job website so employers can find you, keywords are extremely important. Job titles plus job keywords will help the search engines lift your CV to the top. To find inspiration for keywords, carry out a search online and see which words are frequently used when you input your target role.
3. Short and sweet
Generally a curriculum vitae ought to be no more than two pages – and that’s two pages of A4 sized sheets. Employers take, typically, only 8 seconds browsing through any one CV, and a surefire way of landing yourself on the rejected pile is to send them your entire life story. Always keep it punchy, to the point, and save the detail for your interview.
4. Jazz it up
Image is everything in recent times, and that also goes for your curriculum vitae. Devote some time to improving how the CV looks, as well as your content. Use bullet points to keep things well organised, and keep sentences short. Use the graphic design technique of leaving lots of white space surrounding your text and around sections to make the CV easy to read.
5. Personalise it
We’ve all done it. Posting or emailing an identical CV to a bunch of employers to save your time. Across-the-board messages give modest results so never fall into this trap – make an effort to modify your curriculum vitae for every position that you apply for. Study the business and use the job advertisement to figure out specifically just what skills you should highlight to them. They will welcome the obvious effort.
6. Sell the details
Supporting your achievements with numbers makes selling yourself a lot easier. When writing your work history, don’t just state that you increased sales – tell them you raised sales by 80% over a four month period. Be specific.
7. Include a personal statement
Never just believe an recruiter will understand how your experience applies to their role. Instead, make use of a brief personal statement to make clear why you are the perfect person for the role. This should be mirrored in your cover letter too.
8. Tell the truth
Blatant lies on your curriculum vitae can land you in a stack of trouble when it comes to employers checking your background and references. The very last thing you need is to start your new job and then lose your new role for not being totally honest. Also, you could get caught out at the interview when you all of a sudden can’t respond to questions on things you claim to know. It’s not worth the stress – don’t do it!
9. Never leave gaps without an explanation
Leaving noticeable gaps on your CV immediately makes employers wary – and they will not give you the benefit of the doubt. If you have been out of work it can be a concern but just turn it into something positive. Did you study for a course, do some volunteer work or build soft skills like communication or teamwork? If that’s the case, make it clear. Never assume you’ll get the opportunity to explain at the interview – as the gaps might deter them from giving you a chance.
10. Correct your mistakes
Employers do look for errors on CV and if they should find them, it makes you seem really bad. With many employers encountering huge amounts of candidates these days, giving them an excuse to ignore your application because of preventable flaws is definitely not going to enable you to land an interview. Even if you believe your grammar and spelling is awesome, use a spelling check and ask someone else to double-check what you have written – the ‘sanity check’.
11. Maintain up-to-the-minute
You should keep your CV fresh whether you are looking for a new role or not. Every time something significant happens in your career, record it so you don’t later forget something that could be significant.