common CV questions answered

Meaning “way of life” in Latin, a curriculum vitae or CV as it’s more commonly referred to, is a critical piece of the job application process.

On average, employers spend just six to seven seconds looking at a CV. And with more and more software being used to screen CVs and job applications automatically, it’s essential to reflect on whether yours passes the speed test!

The great news is that compiling an exciting and enticing CV doesn’t have to be daunting or hard work. When you understand the basics of what catches an employer’s eye and how you can succinctly document your unique selling points, confidently maintaining your CV can become a way of life!

Let’s look at seven common CV questions that crop up repeatedly. I hope you find them helpful.

1. Is the structure of my CV important?

Oh my gosh, yes! The way you lay out your information is just as important as the content itself. If an employer has to root around to find out if you have the necessary education, skills or experiences required for the role, chances are you’re not going in the ‘yes’ pile.

The aim is to prove your suitability in the first quarter of page one. It’s what recruiters first lay their eyes on… and remember, they may only be looking at it for six or seven seconds.

You need to pack a punch with your CV opening. And here’s how you can do that:

  • Include your basic contact information, ensuring it’s all correct and your email address is appropriate and professional. doesn’t give a great first impression, right?!
  • Next, make sure you’ve included a four-to-six-line profile paragraph confidently selling yourself. Think about your best professional attributes, most significant achievements and career goals.
  • Lastly, include a ‘Key Skills’ section that lists your hard and soft skills, ensuring that they’re relevant to the job for which you’re applying.

2. How many pages should my CV be?

A CV should be at most two A4 sheets. Recruitment agencies and employers are strapped for time, and they’re looking to hire someone efficient and capable. A long, drawn-out CV doesn’t give the impression that you’re either of those things.

3. How do I make my CV eye-catching?

I know I keep harping on about this, but if employers are only spending a few seconds, or if you’re fortunate, half a minute browsing your CV, you need to hook them in immediately.

A common mistake people make is adding lots of information on their duties at work, rather than focusing on achievements and what they can bring to a new role.

Use a positive, confident tone of voice, succinctly showcase your key achievements and clearly outline why you, and no one else, are the right fit for their team!

4. Should I make a generic CV to send to multiple companies?

Searching for a new role is time-consuming; the last thing you feel like doing is creating multiple CVs. But tailoring your CV to each role is so important!

Remember to pick out the keywords used in the job description or advert, and re-order your skills to showcase how you tick all the boxes.

The roles you apply for will be subtly different, and spending a few minutes reviewing and tweaking your CV to deliver the maximum ‘wow’ factor will pay off in the long run.

5. Do I include ALL my experiences?

It’s tempting to put everything down to show how hardworking and varied your career has been. But employers are only really interested in your CURRENT skills and capabilities, say the last 8-10 years of experience.

If you’ve only had one role in this time, do include experience going back further. However, if you’ve had several different roles, prioritise the most current ones.

If you feel like you’re running short of space, there’s nothing wrong with just listing the company, job title and key responsibilities for the roles that don’t add as much to the picture you’re trying to paint in order to land your next dream role.

6. Should I use a fancy template?

The format of CVs has slowly changed over the last decade or so, and you may need to familiarise yourself with the best format to use.

Software used to screen CVs (called Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS for short) can struggle to read information on a CV if it’s too fancy. I therefore advise you choose a simple, clear, uncluttered template with an easy-to-read font. You want that all-important information to instantly jump off the page and attract attention.

For more information on how to write a CV that passes the ATS test, check out my blog on how to beat the bots! 

7. Can I include hobbies and interests on my CV?

If you’re a newly graduated student or you don’t have that much work experience to document, don’t despair!

Hobbies, volunteering and internships are a fantastic way to demonstrate transferable skills and plug some of the perceived “gaps” in your experiences.

For example, being part of a successful sports team demonstrates skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, personal growth, confidence, building cohesion and mental stamina.

If you’ve volunteered for an organisation, talk about your responsibilities, reliability, and hard work, as well as your communication, time management, leadership, delegation and problem-solving skills.

Hobbies are also a great way to convey your patience, attention to detail and creativity, as well as how you can research a topic and manage your time.

Want to find out more about how to write an eye-catching CV?

For more information about how to write the perfect CV, contact me to book a free, no-obligation 30-minute phone consultation.

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