Writing a CV For The First Time? Follow These Tips


October 20, 2021

Many students find writing a CV extremely stressful because their ability to secure a job heavily rests on it. The pressure often doubles if you are an international student because of unfamiliarity with the job market and requirements.
First of all, understand the purpose that a CV serves. A CV is an overview of a person’s work experience, qualifications, and skills. It is not your biography but should inform the prospective employer of your career objectives and convince them to call you for an interview. 

Most graduate jobs require a CV that demonstrates why you are a good candidate and how the position you have applied for aligns with your career path. Even though writing a CV can seem daunting, it is an easy task to master. You must keep a few simple things in mind when writing your CV to improve your chances of employability.

Step-by-Step tips for writing a job-winning CV

Familiarise yourself with different CV templates

If you are writing a CV for the first time you can use a word template, which is easier to follow. As an international student, you must make sure that you are aware of the CV format used in the country you are studying and applying for jobs. For instance, students applying for jobs in the UK will not need to include a picture of themselves on their CVs.

Why you should always personalise your CV

Many graduate employers use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which organises the content of your CV into categories and scans it for different keywords to determine whether an applicant should be passed onto the employer or not. Make sure that you use a readable and simple template for your CV. Organise everything in rows instead of columns. Use keywords used in the job description and specification to personalise your CV. 

What details do I need to put on my CV?

The next thing you must do is include all your relevant contact details at the top of the document along with your name. In addition, add a short personal statement about your career goals to captivate the employer. The personal details should be followed by your relevant work experience, education, and skills, and activities. 

Be careful of these miscellaneous things 

Make sure that the layout and font of the document are readable and proofread the CV to fish out the spelling and grammatical errors. Always export your CV as a PDF because it is ATS friendly and ensures that everything stays in place. Don’t forget to label your CV with your name i.e., YourName_CV. Otherwise, your CV can get lost amongst the hundred other files labelled ‘CV’. 

How can I make my CV look professional?

To add a more professional look to your CV, you can design your CV on Canva which is a graphic design platform with free templates and designs to use. InDesign is another desktop publishing and layout designing software application that you can use to design your CV. Depending on what job and industry you are applying for, you can also create a website to add links to your past work if you want to work in publishing, advertising, etc. It will make everything a lot neater and more accessible. A good thing about using different software or platforms to design your CV is that it innately lets the employer know of your grasp of different software.

Avoid this common mistake & always tailor your CV

A tailored CV is not necessary; however, it does provide you with the chance to stand out to employers. It will demonstrate your willingness and interest to work for the company. A tailored CV can either look like something related to the company where you want to work. For example, if you are applying to Facebook, you can tailor the CV as their homepage. However, if you do not have access to graphic design software; you can use the same colour scheme as the company. For instance, if you apply to Lloyds banks, you can use the colours green and black for your subheadings and body. 

Now that you are familiar with all the tips of writing a CV, you can actually enjoy this exercise to relieve yourself of the stress. Utilise the tips and secure that job interview you really want!

Frequently Asked Question: How do I make up for lack of experience?

A major concern for many international students applying for graduate jobs is lack of experience or inadequate experience. Firstly, everything is an experience. In fact, international students have a greater advantage because they can use their move from one country to another to demonstrate their different skills on the CV. Such as adaptability, risk-taking, etc. If you have participated in any volunteer work or extra-curricular activities during your time at school or university, you can utilise this experience. If you have learnt any transferable skills through observation of your colleagues or peers, there is no harm in mentioning those on your CV.


Written by Ayesha

Ayesha is a freelance writer who writes about everything from politics and current affairs to education and careers. 

Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash

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