The Awkward Guide to: Writing a C.V

Today I am bringing you another post in my 'The Awkward Guide to...' series! As I mentioned before my aim for the series is to chat to you about some of the things that I find awkward, stressful or a bit of a struggle, that perhaps some of you can relate to, and give a little insight or a walkthrough  through the process. I decided to make this month's guide about writing a C.V because it's something that I've been putting off for awhile. I find the prospect of job hunting incredibly scary, it invokes a sense of fear, anxiety and panic within me for a lot of reasons. I find it very difficult to focus on just one thing at a time, so when I think about applying for a new job I worry every possible outcome (whether I'll get an interview, how I'll get to the interview, will I have to drive there, what if I can't think of an answer to a interview question, what if I get the job, what if I don't get the job...just to name a few!) and it just snowballs. I haven't updated my C.V since university but it was only when my boyfriend started looking for a new job and had to write his that I realised I really needed to write mine as well. The best thing about having an updated C.V is it makes the prospect of applying for a new job a little less daunting, instead of having to start from scratch every time, you've already done most of the work for your application and could just quickly email it off if you wanted to.

Step One: Don't Start With a Blank Page!

The worst thing for me has always been opening up a blank word document. Like where do I start?! What is a C.V supposed to look like?! How do I make it not look incredibly dull?! My mind just goes as blank as the page in front of me. It took me too many attempts at trying to write a C.V from scratch before I realised I would be much better off using a template. You can google 'C.V Template' and lots of images will come up, some will even provide designs that you can pay for, but the best thing I've found is using the templates that come free with Microsoft Word itself. You can search the online database from Word itself to find a template that you like the look of (you might need to use the term 'resume' instead of C.V) and then it even allows you to pick your own colour and font schemes. I was really impressed with this function, I liked that I could personalise it to make at least a little bit different from the original template and there were lots of different professional looking designs to choose from. My tips would be to use a colour that suits you (as long as it is easy to read) for your main heading and then a simple black or dark grey for the bulk of your writing. Similarly when choosing my font scheme I wanted something that looked professional and easy to read, nothing to elaborate, but a little bit quirky for the headings to make it stand out from the typical Times New Roman and Arial!

Step Two: Fill In Your Basic Information First

This might seem like an obvious point but it might surprise you how much better you'll feel once you've filled in all your basics. Using a template makes this even easier as you can just delete the example text and add in your own information. After adding in my contact details, employment and educational history, my C.V already looked pretty full, and I hadn't even had to really think yet! At this point it's all about facts, it's pretty much data entry, so I was able to detach from The Fear and just concentrate on GCSE grades, A-Levels and what modules I studied at uni. I would say all of this information took up at least one side of A4 and the entirety of your C.V should be no more than two so that means your already halfway through! I was feeling quite proud of myself at this point, for something I'd been putting off for so long I was nearly finished and it hadn't actually taken much work yet.

Step Three: All About You (a.k.a the dreaded Qualities/Interests/Skills and Hobbies)

Now this is the section I had been dreading and I definitely struggled with it. It is near impossible to think of any positive qualities you have off of the top of your head, or any interests and hobbies you have that don't include binge-watching TV shows on Netflix! As far as I know you can use bullet points in your C.V so I decided to start off by listing some of the basic skills and hobbies I could think of. These included going to the gym (which shows dedication and a healthy lifestyle), a clean UK driving license, and knowledge of computer software (Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop etc.) So far so good, but I still hadn't mentioned anything about me. Then it seemed like I was just spouting cliches about being 'hardworking' and 'reliable' even though they are also true.  The best advice I found came from the National Careers Service and I started to think about relevant and specific examples of each of my skills and qualities. For example I thought back to when I produced my university exhibition and realised I'm good at organising small groups of people, keeping track their progress and ensuring the team meets deadlines. Another piece of advice I learnt is to use the job specification of the role you are looking to apply for. Obviously you don't want to copy the description word for word, or write anything that isn't true, but it definitely helps to narrow down your focus rather than plucking personality traits out of thin air. For example If the role lists 'meeting deadlines' as a desirable trait you might want to think about your time-management skills. 

Step Four: Use your new C.V as a Building Block

Following on from that last point, it is always advisable to read the job specification of the role you want to apply for and use it to tweak your C.V here and there each time you apply for something new. That way you always make sure you have listed all of the reasons that you are the best person for the job and can remove anything that might seem irrelevant for that specific role. So far my C.V contains a bit of everything, it isn't really specific to any particular job as I just wanted to get everything down on paper. That means if I send it out as it is currently it might not be clear to the potential employer why I think I'm the best candidate, or that I've even read the specification. When I do finally pluck up the courage to apply for a new job I'll make sure to do a quick revision and tailor my application to each individual employer. 

I hope you've found this guide helpful! I do really recommend the National Careers Service website if you need advice as they have lots of helpful tools, skills and personality test, a C.V builder and much more help than I can give you! This guide really is about plucking up that courage to take the first step in finding a new career, if you are feeling the fear and the pressure like I am I'd love to hear from you. 



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