As someone with a few years of work experience, you’ll already have had some success with writing CVs. When rewriting your CV as an experienced hire, it’s important to take a step back and consider the parts of your CV that are still relevant to include for a new audience/level.
Rewriting your CV can be a very helpful exercise in evaluating and selecting which parts of your accomplishments to date are still relevant and interesting to prospective employers. So whether you are applying for an advertised role or making a speculative approach, these tips highlight some key points to bear in mind when preparing your CV and how to make the most of our services as an experienced hire:
1. Research the organisation and role
Make sure you fully understand the company (and the sector it’s in), as well as the role. The organisation’s website is a good place to start; sometimes there’s information about the kinds of qualities and skills they look for in their people too. Explore their areas of focus and notice the language they use to describe what they do. Search beyond the website too – speak to people who work at the organisation by attending events, networking and connecting on LinkedIn.
Look at the job description and person specification carefully. Highlight the skills required and then think through how you match these skills, not just in terms of your professional experience, but also your experience outside of work.
2. Tailor the CV to the organisation and role
Always remember there’s no such thing as a generic CV – every CV you send out should be tailored to that role. The employer is recruiting for a specific job that needs doing and they want to find the most suitable person to do it, so make their task as easy as possible by telling them clearly and succinctly that you have what they’re looking for. You don’t have to re-write your whole CV, but take time to adapt the details, so they’re relevant and reflect the role.
3. Choose an appropriate CV format to fit your experience
The most common CV format is reverse chronological ie. setting out your experience and education with the most recent first. The other options are a skills based or functional format or some form of hybrid. The main difference is that skills are listed with evidence following each. This format can be useful if you’ve had a lot of experience, where you’re changing careers or if you have an unconventional background and want to emphasise transferable skills.
In general a profile at the beginning isn’t necessary, except where you are making a career transition or have a lot of different types of experience. In these cases a brief introduction, focusing on your evidenced based and measurable skills and the type of work you are looking for, can be helpful. It should be tailored to match the employer’s needs in terms of job and organisation.
If the role is outside the UK, it’s important to remember there are important country differences regarding format and content. Check out GoingGlobal for country specific details.
4. Make it look good
Your CV is a selling document – you may have seconds to create an impression, so make sure it looks good. The layout should be clean and well structured, with the content carefully and clearly presented. It should be concise, easy to read and shouldn’t contain any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes.
When thinking about the length of your CV, in general it’s best to keep it to no more than two pages of A4. A good CV is clear, concise and makes every point necessary. If you’re applying for a senior role and have plenty of relevant experience, or if you are applying for an academic post, then it is possible to extend the CV onto three or more sides, to take into account your research/publications.
5. Clearly highlight your experience
- Remember employers are only interested in what you’ve done in the past in relation to what you might be able to do for them in the future so highlight the valuable skills and experience you’ve gained from past work positions and relate them to the role you’re applying for.
- Don’t write your work experience in paragraphs and don’t include excessive detail that’s not directly relevant to your application. Instead, use a bullet point format and make each point clear and concise. You can also separate out ‘Relevant experience’ from ‘Other experience’ to highlight the most important information.
- Use active and positive language to describe what you did and emphasise and provide more information on more recent jobs. Don’t create a never-ending list of duties and responsibilities. It’s better to focus on 4-5 main projects/achievements and highlight the impact you made.
- Use the correct tense for work experience; ie. list activities in your current role in the present tense, but in the past tense for previous roles.
6. Consider how you use your extra-curricular experience
- When you have more work based and relevant experience your extracurricular activities may need less emphasis on the CV. However it’s important not to neglect this area completely as for some roles it will be of interest.
- Describe any recent examples of positions of responsibility, working in a team or anything that shows you can use your own initiative. For example, if you held a position at LSE or are a member of a special interest group/professional body.
- Under interests, highlight the things that show off skills you’ve gained and employers look for. Include anything that shows how diverse, interesting and skilled you are.
- Make sure to include any volunteering experience you have as this can make you stand out to employers, as sometimes skills gained through volunteering can be more valuable than paid work. This could include local charities, schools, board of governors etc.
7. Make the most of LSE Careers and CareerHub
On CareerHub you can search specifically for experienced hire roles (2+ years) as well as full-time, part-time, graduate and other opportunities. If you’d like to discuss your CV or any careers-related topic, you can book a one-to-one appointment with one of our careers consultants on CareerHub!