How to create a CV from scratch

Posted in: Advice, Applications, Tips & Hints

For many students this can be a really daunting prospect. But actually, if you need to create a CV from scratch, or your old one needs a complete overhaul, this could put you at an advantage. This is because you have a great opportunity to follow our expert advice from the very beginning of the process. The result could be an outstanding, tailored CV for each role you need it for.

This blog covers the steps you can take before your put a CV together.

1. Before you even think about formatting, or what to include or leave out, gather evidence of your skills and experience. Start with a blank document and list all possible experiences you could use for a CV. Include everything you can think of: your degree, part-time work, voluntary work, competitions, roles of responsibilities in clubs etc. Next to them list the skills you used, learned or developed. For each item, write a few lines about how you acquired or demonstrated the skill(s) you used. This document will form the basis of your CV and will help when you’re making applications.  For more advice on how to do this read the section ‘Assembling evidence of your skills’ in our, Application, CV and cover letter guide.

2. Read up on the role and the employer. The most important reason for this is to be really sure you want the job! If you don’t, it will be obvious on your CV. If you don’t have a specific role in mind, research the kinds of roles and employers you are interested in. Read employer websites to get a sense of what the organisation does. View job profiles on Prospects to find out what’s involved in these roles and what skills and experiences are usually required. For specific roles, look carefully at the job description and person specification and highlight the skills they are looking for.

3. Map your skills and experience against those requested/desired by the employer. Use the information you find out in your employer and role research (point 2 above) and compare it to the document of evidence you have created (point 1 above). Do you have examples of all the skills and experiences required? If there are gaps, think about whether you have experiences you could draw on that might be relevant, even if they are from an extra-curricular or sporting context. Watch the section on how to target your CV for each application in our Webinar recording on CV and Covering letters for further advice on how to do this.

4. Choose a CV format or template which helps you to display your relevant information in the most prominent position. Look at the example CVs in the Appendix of our guide. Think about whether a ‘skills-based’ example might help to present yourself more effectively (see example 3). This approach can be useful for showcasing transferrable skills gained across a range of experiences. Use the mapping exercise above to make sure that the experiences and skills which are most important to the employer are as easy as possible to see on your CV. Relevant experience should be on the first page towards the top or centrally located.

For your next steps, take a look at our Get started guide for applications, CVs and cover letters.

Posted in: Advice, Applications, Tips & Hints


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