Adviser and student working collaboratively at a laptop

November 2, 2023, by Jackie Thompson

Is my CV good enough?

By Anna Scrivener, Careers Adviser

So many students ask this question – but it’s harder to answer than you may think.

I want to share something about CVs that I think is often missed. Your first experience of CV writing was probably back at school in a mandatory session they had to tick off. In this circumstance your CV is simply a holding document, demonstrating all your achievements, a place to record and remember everything. And who is best placed to know if what you have on it reflects that…well, you.

This is until you are using it to apply to an actual job. So, when I’m asked ‘Is my CV good enough?’ my first question back is, “What are you using it to apply for and who are you trying to speak to?’ This is the key to turning your CV from a chronological list of what you have done, to a successful tool to help you get through the door to that next interview stage

Is there a CV guide that I can use?

Yes, there are some standard formats you can follow, similar headings to include, but you can find all of that out very easily on the Careers and Employability Service website. Our CVs page on our website has some examples and our online short course ‘How to build a great CV and covering letter’ (10-15 minutes) gives you some great hints and tips to get your CVs looking good.

How do you know what to include?

I want you to think about the job information you have been provided as the answers to the exam, they’ve laid it all out for you, exactly what they are looking for. Your job now is to make sure your application ticks it all off.

Remember an application is rarely just a CV, it’s likely to include additional things like a covering letter, application form, personal statement and application questions. Have you thought about how your application as a whole is relevant? It’s not simply listing all the things you are most proud of, but actually ticking off the employer’s requirements.

Who are you trying to reach with your CV?

The next stage is making that application speaks to the reader, and to get an interview you are absolutely going to need to tailor your application to the job/sector/company and that includes reviewing your CV with all the job information in mind the following:

  • Have you reflected the key skills from the job information within your CV? This could include transferable skills, skills gained through your degree/extracurricular activities, or things directly relevant.
  • Are these skills front and forefront, so bullet points reordered to put the most relevant things first?
  • Have you highlighted your top three selling points for that role within your ‘profile’ section at the top?
  • Have you reflected their language where possible? For example, if you have team work on your CV but they’ve referred to collaborative or partnership working you may be able to switch your language to lead the reader to the information they need.

This is the second version of your CV, the one that you are actually going to use. There are no short cuts I’m afraid, sure it will get easier, if you apply for similar jobs/sectors but if you don’t go through this process you wont be giving the employer any reason to shortlist you.

How do I book an appointment for a CV review?

You can book appointments for a CV review through MyCareer, I would suggest uploading your CV and the job information for the role you are applying to, so we have that context and can really support you with that tailoring.

Good luck!

If you want more ideas on how to improve your CV, you can check out our range of resources online. If you’d like an adviser to look through your CV, book an appointment on MyCareer

Posted in CVs and Cover Letters