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Mastering your CV: Tips for aspiring professionals

We held a webinar to provide tips on how to create or update a strong CV and tailor it to specific job vacancies that you apply for.

Here’s everything that was discussed…

Event panellists

Tanya Widdop is currently an account manager but has previously worked as a Recruitment Team Leader at Kaplan UK. As part of her role, she would help with CV writing and recruitment advice for Kaplan learners and apprentices within the accounting, digital, data and IT industries.

Pauline Weighall has worked within financial services throughout her career and has previously worked in a careers advice and guidance role where she would support others with interview techniques, career progression, and CV writing.

Alice Gilbride is a Service Operations Manager at Kaplan, supporting a team that supports learners and apprentices with enrolment and exam bookings. She has also recently worked with interns to help them develop their skills, experience, and CVs.

Key topics discussed

The webinar is divided into three main sections led by Alice, Pauline, and Tanya.

The importance of formatting

Alice leads the discussion by providing useful tips and advice on how to ensure that the format of your CV is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Examples of these tips include:

Keeping it snappy

A recruiter or employer will prefer it if your CV is under two pages so they can digest all the information and make a decision quickly

Different types of CVs

Depending on the job role, you may wish to tailor the formatting of your CV to suit what the employer is looking for. For example, if you are applying for a qualification-based role, you would write about your skills and academic qualifications before your work experience. If you’re further along in your career, you may format this in reverse chronological order - stating your most recent work experience first.

Contact details

It goes without saying, but many people forget. Remember to include your contact details and present them clearly on your CV.

Interests and achievements

It is good to mention your interests and achievements on your CV. However, keep this relevant to the role that you’re applying for. It helps to identify the skills that you hold due to your interests and how this can be applied to the job role.

Using bullet points

Again, this helps to keep your CV short and snappy while helping recruiters identify your strengths and skills at a glance.

Be aware of Application Tracking Systems (ATS)

Ensure that your format is consistent and accessible. Not only is this easier to read, but many recruiters or employers will use Applicant Tracking Systems/Software (ATS) which utilises AI to conduct the initial checks of a CV to ensure it meets the job requirements. Therefore, inconsistencies within your formatting can lead to the system rejecting your application before the recruiter has seen it.

Some tips to avoid being rejected from ATS are…

  • Keep the font and style consistent throughout your CV
  • Avoid using hyperlinks - the software may reject hyperlinks to protect the recruiter or employer from a potential threat or virus
  • Avoid boxes and lines - this is not always recognised by ATS
  • Submit a Word document over a PDF - if you are unsure whether your CV will be read by ATS or not, it is always best to submit a word document in case the tracking system used does not recognise or scan PDF files effectively.

Tailoring your CV to fit the job

Pauline discusses all of the do’s and don'ts of tailoring your CV to a specific job advertisement. She explains how it is good to have a template of your CV, but it is better to look into the job description, assess the key skills, and tailor your CV to those skills.

Some useful points include:

Don’t lose the important information

The aim is to capture the employer or recruiter’s attention. Therefore, it is important to only include the relevant information that relates to the job that you are applying for. Important facts and skills can get lost if you provide too much information.

Transferable skills

Assess the previous skills that you have gained from work experience or education, and think about how they may be transferable to the job that you are applying for.

CAR statements stand for challenge, action, and results statements. This is a way where you can show your key skills in your CV by providing a short narrative of work that you have undertaken to prove your skills. This should be no longer than four lines where you explain a challenge, how you overcame or addressed this, and what the outcome or conclusion was.

Using the past tense

When writing about your previous work experience, transferable skills, or using CAR statements, it’s important to use the past tense to show that it is something you have done and not something that you are just planning to do.

Don’t include your references

Avoid including the contact details for your references on your CV. It won’t look great if your prospective employer contacts your current employer before you have told them that you’re looking for other employment.

Equality and diversity

Is your age, gender, or what you look like important to your application? If this isn’t going to benefit you in your job role, this should not matter to a recruiter or employer. Avoiding putting these details may help you avoid unconscious bias.

Personal statement

Tanya explains how to write a clear, interesting, and useful personal statement, which should sit at the top of your CV. She explains how this is ultimately an introductory paragraph that explains your background and career aspirations. The purpose of this is to capture the employer or recruiter’s interest so they read your CV further.

Tips on how to write an effective personal statement include:

Take a few lines, not paragraphs

The recruiter or employer wants to see an overview of your skills and why you’d be fit for the position. Therefore, the aim is to include a lot of information but narrow it down to no more than ten lines.

Include your current situation

Whether you are currently working, studying, or taking a break from work, include your current situation in your statement.

Tailor to the job that you are applying for

As well as the format and content of your CV, your statement should also be relevant to the job that you are applying for to boost your chances of getting an interview.

Mirror the language

Have a look at the job specification and try to mirror some of the language, skills mentioned, or terminology used. By doing this, you can also mention some keywords that may capture the employer’s attention.

Make sure it flows

Make sure that your personal statement reads well by reading it out loud or to someone else. Check over your spelling and grammar, and also ensure that you’re not overusing buzzwords that may make your statement difficult to read.

First-person

Ensure that your personal statement is in the first person to show that you are talking about yourself and to the employer. This is much more direct and personable.

Don’t include quotes

Including famous quotes or song lyrics (unless stated) is not relevant to the application.

If in doubt, make a checklist

Ask yourself questions such as: What skills and experience do you have that’s relevant? What are your short or long-term goals? Why are you applying for this position?

Try to ensure that your statement answers these questions for you.

Examples and questions

An example of a personal statement is further discussed, followed by a question and answer session, and additional resources and ways in which Kaplan can support you.

Feeling inspired?

For more career advice, inspiration and tips, watch our new YouTube web series, Career Goals. The series features several guests who are achieving their career goals while they share their personal and professional stories, struggles, and advice on how you can progress your career.

To keep up to date with any upcoming webinars similar to Mastering your CV: Tips for aspiring professionals, browse our events page.

Sign up for future events

Find out more

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Mastering your CV: Tips for aspiring professionals

We held a webinar to provide tips on how to create or update a strong CV and tailor it to specific job vacancies that you apply for.

Here’s everything that was discussed…

Event panellists

Tanya Widdop is currently an account manager but has previously worked as a Recruitment Team Leader at Kaplan UK. As part of her role, she would help with CV writing and recruitment advice for Kaplan learners and apprentices within the accounting, digital, data and IT industries.

Pauline Weighall has worked within financial services throughout her career and has previously worked in a careers advice and guidance role where she would support others with interview techniques, career progression, and CV writing.

Alice Gilbride is a Service Operations Manager at Kaplan, supporting a team that supports learners and apprentices with enrolment and exam bookings. She has also recently worked with interns to help them develop their skills, experience, and CVs.

Key topics discussed

The webinar is divided into three main sections led by Alice, Pauline, and Tanya.

The importance of formatting

Alice leads the discussion by providing useful tips and advice on how to ensure that the format of your CV is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Examples of these tips include:

Keeping it snappy

A recruiter or employer will prefer it if your CV is under two pages so they can digest all the information and make a decision quickly

Different types of CVs

Depending on the job role, you may wish to tailor the formatting of your CV to suit what the employer is looking for. For example, if you are applying for a qualification-based role, you would write about your skills and academic qualifications before your work experience. If you’re further along in your career, you may format this in reverse chronological order - stating your most recent work experience first.

Contact details

It goes without saying, but many people forget. Remember to include your contact details and present them clearly on your CV.

Interests and achievements

It is good to mention your interests and achievements on your CV. However, keep this relevant to the role that you’re applying for. It helps to identify the skills that you hold due to your interests and how this can be applied to the job role.

Using bullet points

Again, this helps to keep your CV short and snappy while helping recruiters identify your strengths and skills at a glance.

Be aware of Application Tracking Systems (ATS)

Ensure that your format is consistent and accessible. Not only is this easier to read, but many recruiters or employers will use Applicant Tracking Systems/Software (ATS) which utilises AI to conduct the initial checks of a CV to ensure it meets the job requirements. Therefore, inconsistencies within your formatting can lead to the system rejecting your application before the recruiter has seen it.

Some tips to avoid being rejected from ATS are…

  • Keep the font and style consistent throughout your CV
  • Avoid using hyperlinks - the software may reject hyperlinks to protect the recruiter or employer from a potential threat or virus
  • Avoid boxes and lines - this is not always recognised by ATS
  • Submit a Word document over a PDF - if you are unsure whether your CV will be read by ATS or not, it is always best to submit a word document in case the tracking system used does not recognise or scan PDF files effectively.

Tailoring your CV to fit the job

Pauline discusses all of the do’s and don'ts of tailoring your CV to a specific job advertisement. She explains how it is good to have a template of your CV, but it is better to look into the job description, assess the key skills, and tailor your CV to those skills.

Some useful points include:

Don’t lose the important information

The aim is to capture the employer or recruiter’s attention. Therefore, it is important to only include the relevant information that relates to the job that you are applying for. Important facts and skills can get lost if you provide too much information.

Transferable skills

Assess the previous skills that you have gained from work experience or education, and think about how they may be transferable to the job that you are applying for.

CAR statements stand for challenge, action, and results statements. This is a way where you can show your key skills in your CV by providing a short narrative of work that you have undertaken to prove your skills. This should be no longer than four lines where you explain a challenge, how you overcame or addressed this, and what the outcome or conclusion was.

Using the past tense

When writing about your previous work experience, transferable skills, or using CAR statements, it’s important to use the past tense to show that it is something you have done and not something that you are just planning to do.

Don’t include your references

Avoid including the contact details for your references on your CV. It won’t look great if your prospective employer contacts your current employer before you have told them that you’re looking for other employment.

Equality and diversity

Is your age, gender, or what you look like important to your application? If this isn’t going to benefit you in your job role, this should not matter to a recruiter or employer. Avoiding putting these details may help you avoid unconscious bias.

Personal statement

Tanya explains how to write a clear, interesting, and useful personal statement, which should sit at the top of your CV. She explains how this is ultimately an introductory paragraph that explains your background and career aspirations. The purpose of this is to capture the employer or recruiter’s interest so they read your CV further.

Tips on how to write an effective personal statement include:

Take a few lines, not paragraphs

The recruiter or employer wants to see an overview of your skills and why you’d be fit for the position. Therefore, the aim is to include a lot of information but narrow it down to no more than ten lines.

Include your current situation

Whether you are currently working, studying, or taking a break from work, include your current situation in your statement.

Tailor to the job that you are applying for

As well as the format and content of your CV, your statement should also be relevant to the job that you are applying for to boost your chances of getting an interview.

Mirror the language

Have a look at the job specification and try to mirror some of the language, skills mentioned, or terminology used. By doing this, you can also mention some keywords that may capture the employer’s attention.

Make sure it flows

Make sure that your personal statement reads well by reading it out loud or to someone else. Check over your spelling and grammar, and also ensure that you’re not overusing buzzwords that may make your statement difficult to read.

First-person

Ensure that your personal statement is in the first person to show that you are talking about yourself and to the employer. This is much more direct and personable.

Don’t include quotes

Including famous quotes or song lyrics (unless stated) is not relevant to the application.

If in doubt, make a checklist

Ask yourself questions such as: What skills and experience do you have that’s relevant? What are your short or long-term goals? Why are you applying for this position?

Try to ensure that your statement answers these questions for you.

Examples and questions

An example of a personal statement is further discussed, followed by a question and answer session, and additional resources and ways in which Kaplan can support you.

Feeling inspired?

For more career advice, inspiration and tips, watch our new YouTube web series, Career Goals. The series features several guests who are achieving their career goals while they share their personal and professional stories, struggles, and advice on how you can progress your career.

To keep up to date with any upcoming webinars similar to Mastering your CV: Tips for aspiring professionals, browse our events page.

Sign up for future events

Find out more

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Uncovering the world of money laundering

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This episode of our Learn Better podcast features guest, Joe Fisher, who reveals all about his career as a Money Laundering Reporting Officer.

Kaplan · 5 minute read

Pennies to Pounds: Tips from a financial influencer

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Pennies to Pounds founder, Kia Commodore, joined our host Kelsey Haslam on the couch of Kaplan’s Career Goals.

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Mastering your CV: Tips for aspiring professionals

We held a webinar to provide tips on how to create or update a strong CV and tailor it to specific job vacancies that you apply for.

Here’s everything that was discussed…

Event panellists

Tanya Widdop is currently an account manager but has previously worked as a Recruitment Team Leader at Kaplan UK. As part of her role, she would help with CV writing and recruitment advice for Kaplan learners and apprentices within the accounting, digital, data and IT industries.

Pauline Weighall has worked within financial services throughout her career and has previously worked in a careers advice and guidance role where she would support others with interview techniques, career progression, and CV writing.

Alice Gilbride is a Service Operations Manager at Kaplan, supporting a team that supports learners and apprentices with enrolment and exam bookings. She has also recently worked with interns to help them develop their skills, experience, and CVs.

Key topics discussed

The webinar is divided into three main sections led by Alice, Pauline, and Tanya.

The importance of formatting

Alice leads the discussion by providing useful tips and advice on how to ensure that the format of your CV is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Examples of these tips include:

Keeping it snappy

A recruiter or employer will prefer it if your CV is under two pages so they can digest all the information and make a decision quickly

Different types of CVs

Depending on the job role, you may wish to tailor the formatting of your CV to suit what the employer is looking for. For example, if you are applying for a qualification-based role, you would write about your skills and academic qualifications before your work experience. If you’re further along in your career, you may format this in reverse chronological order - stating your most recent work experience first.

Contact details

It goes without saying, but many people forget. Remember to include your contact details and present them clearly on your CV.

Interests and achievements

It is good to mention your interests and achievements on your CV. However, keep this relevant to the role that you’re applying for. It helps to identify the skills that you hold due to your interests and how this can be applied to the job role.

Using bullet points

Again, this helps to keep your CV short and snappy while helping recruiters identify your strengths and skills at a glance.

Be aware of Application Tracking Systems (ATS)

Ensure that your format is consistent and accessible. Not only is this easier to read, but many recruiters or employers will use Applicant Tracking Systems/Software (ATS) which utilises AI to conduct the initial checks of a CV to ensure it meets the job requirements. Therefore, inconsistencies within your formatting can lead to the system rejecting your application before the recruiter has seen it.

Some tips to avoid being rejected from ATS are…

  • Keep the font and style consistent throughout your CV
  • Avoid using hyperlinks - the software may reject hyperlinks to protect the recruiter or employer from a potential threat or virus
  • Avoid boxes and lines - this is not always recognised by ATS
  • Submit a Word document over a PDF - if you are unsure whether your CV will be read by ATS or not, it is always best to submit a word document in case the tracking system used does not recognise or scan PDF files effectively.

Tailoring your CV to fit the job

Pauline discusses all of the do’s and don'ts of tailoring your CV to a specific job advertisement. She explains how it is good to have a template of your CV, but it is better to look into the job description, assess the key skills, and tailor your CV to those skills.

Some useful points include:

Don’t lose the important information

The aim is to capture the employer or recruiter’s attention. Therefore, it is important to only include the relevant information that relates to the job that you are applying for. Important facts and skills can get lost if you provide too much information.

Transferable skills

Assess the previous skills that you have gained from work experience or education, and think about how they may be transferable to the job that you are applying for.

CAR statements stand for challenge, action, and results statements. This is a way where you can show your key skills in your CV by providing a short narrative of work that you have undertaken to prove your skills. This should be no longer than four lines where you explain a challenge, how you overcame or addressed this, and what the outcome or conclusion was.

Using the past tense

When writing about your previous work experience, transferable skills, or using CAR statements, it’s important to use the past tense to show that it is something you have done and not something that you are just planning to do.

Don’t include your references

Avoid including the contact details for your references on your CV. It won’t look great if your prospective employer contacts your current employer before you have told them that you’re looking for other employment.

Equality and diversity

Is your age, gender, or what you look like important to your application? If this isn’t going to benefit you in your job role, this should not matter to a recruiter or employer. Avoiding putting these details may help you avoid unconscious bias.

Personal statement

Tanya explains how to write a clear, interesting, and useful personal statement, which should sit at the top of your CV. She explains how this is ultimately an introductory paragraph that explains your background and career aspirations. The purpose of this is to capture the employer or recruiter’s interest so they read your CV further.

Tips on how to write an effective personal statement include:

Take a few lines, not paragraphs

The recruiter or employer wants to see an overview of your skills and why you’d be fit for the position. Therefore, the aim is to include a lot of information but narrow it down to no more than ten lines.

Include your current situation

Whether you are currently working, studying, or taking a break from work, include your current situation in your statement.

Tailor to the job that you are applying for

As well as the format and content of your CV, your statement should also be relevant to the job that you are applying for to boost your chances of getting an interview.

Mirror the language

Have a look at the job specification and try to mirror some of the language, skills mentioned, or terminology used. By doing this, you can also mention some keywords that may capture the employer’s attention.

Make sure it flows

Make sure that your personal statement reads well by reading it out loud or to someone else. Check over your spelling and grammar, and also ensure that you’re not overusing buzzwords that may make your statement difficult to read.

First-person

Ensure that your personal statement is in the first person to show that you are talking about yourself and to the employer. This is much more direct and personable.

Don’t include quotes

Including famous quotes or song lyrics (unless stated) is not relevant to the application.

If in doubt, make a checklist

Ask yourself questions such as: What skills and experience do you have that’s relevant? What are your short or long-term goals? Why are you applying for this position?

Try to ensure that your statement answers these questions for you.

Examples and questions

An example of a personal statement is further discussed, followed by a question and answer session, and additional resources and ways in which Kaplan can support you.

Feeling inspired?

For more career advice, inspiration and tips, watch our new YouTube web series, Career Goals. The series features several guests who are achieving their career goals while they share their personal and professional stories, struggles, and advice on how you can progress your career.

To keep up to date with any upcoming webinars similar to Mastering your CV: Tips for aspiring professionals, browse our events page.

Sign up for future events

Find out more

Related articles

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This episode of our Learn Better podcast features guest, Joe Fisher, who reveals all about his career as a Money Laundering Reporting Officer.

Kaplan · 5 minute read

Pennies to Pounds: Tips from a financial influencer

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Pennies to Pounds founder, Kia Commodore, joined our host Kelsey Haslam on the couch of Kaplan’s Career Goals.

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Transformations

View all

Mastering your CV: Tips for aspiring professionals

We held a webinar to provide tips on how to create or update a strong CV and tailor it to specific job vacancies that you apply for.

Here’s everything that was discussed…

Event panellists

Tanya Widdop is currently an account manager but has previously worked as a Recruitment Team Leader at Kaplan UK. As part of her role, she would help with CV writing and recruitment advice for Kaplan learners and apprentices within the accounting, digital, data and IT industries.

Pauline Weighall has worked within financial services throughout her career and has previously worked in a careers advice and guidance role where she would support others with interview techniques, career progression, and CV writing.

Alice Gilbride is a Service Operations Manager at Kaplan, supporting a team that supports learners and apprentices with enrolment and exam bookings. She has also recently worked with interns to help them develop their skills, experience, and CVs.

Key topics discussed

The webinar is divided into three main sections led by Alice, Pauline, and Tanya.

The importance of formatting

Alice leads the discussion by providing useful tips and advice on how to ensure that the format of your CV is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Examples of these tips include:

Keeping it snappy

A recruiter or employer will prefer it if your CV is under two pages so they can digest all the information and make a decision quickly

Different types of CVs

Depending on the job role, you may wish to tailor the formatting of your CV to suit what the employer is looking for. For example, if you are applying for a qualification-based role, you would write about your skills and academic qualifications before your work experience. If you’re further along in your career, you may format this in reverse chronological order - stating your most recent work experience first.

Contact details

It goes without saying, but many people forget. Remember to include your contact details and present them clearly on your CV.

Interests and achievements

It is good to mention your interests and achievements on your CV. However, keep this relevant to the role that you’re applying for. It helps to identify the skills that you hold due to your interests and how this can be applied to the job role.

Using bullet points

Again, this helps to keep your CV short and snappy while helping recruiters identify your strengths and skills at a glance.

Be aware of Application Tracking Systems (ATS)

Ensure that your format is consistent and accessible. Not only is this easier to read, but many recruiters or employers will use Applicant Tracking Systems/Software (ATS) which utilises AI to conduct the initial checks of a CV to ensure it meets the job requirements. Therefore, inconsistencies within your formatting can lead to the system rejecting your application before the recruiter has seen it.

Some tips to avoid being rejected from ATS are…

  • Keep the font and style consistent throughout your CV
  • Avoid using hyperlinks - the software may reject hyperlinks to protect the recruiter or employer from a potential threat or virus
  • Avoid boxes and lines - this is not always recognised by ATS
  • Submit a Word document over a PDF - if you are unsure whether your CV will be read by ATS or not, it is always best to submit a word document in case the tracking system used does not recognise or scan PDF files effectively.

Tailoring your CV to fit the job

Pauline discusses all of the do’s and don'ts of tailoring your CV to a specific job advertisement. She explains how it is good to have a template of your CV, but it is better to look into the job description, assess the key skills, and tailor your CV to those skills.

Some useful points include:

Don’t lose the important information

The aim is to capture the employer or recruiter’s attention. Therefore, it is important to only include the relevant information that relates to the job that you are applying for. Important facts and skills can get lost if you provide too much information.

Transferable skills

Assess the previous skills that you have gained from work experience or education, and think about how they may be transferable to the job that you are applying for.

CAR statements stand for challenge, action, and results statements. This is a way where you can show your key skills in your CV by providing a short narrative of work that you have undertaken to prove your skills. This should be no longer than four lines where you explain a challenge, how you overcame or addressed this, and what the outcome or conclusion was.

Using the past tense

When writing about your previous work experience, transferable skills, or using CAR statements, it’s important to use the past tense to show that it is something you have done and not something that you are just planning to do.

Don’t include your references

Avoid including the contact details for your references on your CV. It won’t look great if your prospective employer contacts your current employer before you have told them that you’re looking for other employment.

Equality and diversity

Is your age, gender, or what you look like important to your application? If this isn’t going to benefit you in your job role, this should not matter to a recruiter or employer. Avoiding putting these details may help you avoid unconscious bias.

Personal statement

Tanya explains how to write a clear, interesting, and useful personal statement, which should sit at the top of your CV. She explains how this is ultimately an introductory paragraph that explains your background and career aspirations. The purpose of this is to capture the employer or recruiter’s interest so they read your CV further.

Tips on how to write an effective personal statement include:

Take a few lines, not paragraphs

The recruiter or employer wants to see an overview of your skills and why you’d be fit for the position. Therefore, the aim is to include a lot of information but narrow it down to no more than ten lines.

Include your current situation

Whether you are currently working, studying, or taking a break from work, include your current situation in your statement.

Tailor to the job that you are applying for

As well as the format and content of your CV, your statement should also be relevant to the job that you are applying for to boost your chances of getting an interview.

Mirror the language

Have a look at the job specification and try to mirror some of the language, skills mentioned, or terminology used. By doing this, you can also mention some keywords that may capture the employer’s attention.

Make sure it flows

Make sure that your personal statement reads well by reading it out loud or to someone else. Check over your spelling and grammar, and also ensure that you’re not overusing buzzwords that may make your statement difficult to read.

First-person

Ensure that your personal statement is in the first person to show that you are talking about yourself and to the employer. This is much more direct and personable.

Don’t include quotes

Including famous quotes or song lyrics (unless stated) is not relevant to the application.

If in doubt, make a checklist

Ask yourself questions such as: What skills and experience do you have that’s relevant? What are your short or long-term goals? Why are you applying for this position?

Try to ensure that your statement answers these questions for you.

Examples and questions

An example of a personal statement is further discussed, followed by a question and answer session, and additional resources and ways in which Kaplan can support you.

Feeling inspired?

For more career advice, inspiration and tips, watch our new YouTube web series, Career Goals. The series features several guests who are achieving their career goals while they share their personal and professional stories, struggles, and advice on how you can progress your career.

To keep up to date with any upcoming webinars similar to Mastering your CV: Tips for aspiring professionals, browse our events page.

Sign up for future events

Find out more

Related articles

Uncovering the world of money laundering

Uncovering the world of money laundering

This episode of our Learn Better podcast features guest, Joe Fisher, who reveals all about his career as a Money Laundering Reporting Officer.

Kaplan · 5 minute read

Pennies to Pounds: Tips from a financial influencer

Pennies to Pounds: Tips from a financial influencer

Pennies to Pounds founder, Kia Commodore, joined our host Kelsey Haslam on the couch of Kaplan’s Career Goals.

Kaplan · 5 minute read

Data: The window to the future

Data: The window to the future

In this episode of our Learn Better podcast, Stuart Pedley-Smith and guest, Ian Pay, discuss the importance of data within the field of accounting.

Kaplan · 4 minute read

View all articles

Mastering your CV: Tips for aspiring professionals

We held a webinar to provide tips on how to create or update a strong CV and tailor it to specific job vacancies that you apply for.

Here’s everything that was discussed…

Event panellists

Tanya Widdop is currently an account manager but has previously worked as a Recruitment Team Leader at Kaplan UK. As part of her role, she would help with CV writing and recruitment advice for Kaplan learners and apprentices within the accounting, digital, data and IT industries.

Pauline Weighall has worked within financial services throughout her career and has previously worked in a careers advice and guidance role where she would support others with interview techniques, career progression, and CV writing.

Alice Gilbride is a Service Operations Manager at Kaplan, supporting a team that supports learners and apprentices with enrolment and exam bookings. She has also recently worked with interns to help them develop their skills, experience, and CVs.

Key topics discussed

The webinar is divided into three main sections led by Alice, Pauline, and Tanya.

The importance of formatting

Alice leads the discussion by providing useful tips and advice on how to ensure that the format of your CV is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Examples of these tips include:

Keeping it snappy

A recruiter or employer will prefer it if your CV is under two pages so they can digest all the information and make a decision quickly

Different types of CVs

Depending on the job role, you may wish to tailor the formatting of your CV to suit what the employer is looking for. For example, if you are applying for a qualification-based role, you would write about your skills and academic qualifications before your work experience. If you’re further along in your career, you may format this in reverse chronological order - stating your most recent work experience first.

Contact details

It goes without saying, but many people forget. Remember to include your contact details and present them clearly on your CV.

Interests and achievements

It is good to mention your interests and achievements on your CV. However, keep this relevant to the role that you’re applying for. It helps to identify the skills that you hold due to your interests and how this can be applied to the job role.

Using bullet points

Again, this helps to keep your CV short and snappy while helping recruiters identify your strengths and skills at a glance.

Be aware of Application Tracking Systems (ATS)

Ensure that your format is consistent and accessible. Not only is this easier to read, but many recruiters or employers will use Applicant Tracking Systems/Software (ATS) which utilises AI to conduct the initial checks of a CV to ensure it meets the job requirements. Therefore, inconsistencies within your formatting can lead to the system rejecting your application before the recruiter has seen it.

Some tips to avoid being rejected from ATS are…

  • Keep the font and style consistent throughout your CV
  • Avoid using hyperlinks - the software may reject hyperlinks to protect the recruiter or employer from a potential threat or virus
  • Avoid boxes and lines - this is not always recognised by ATS
  • Submit a Word document over a PDF - if you are unsure whether your CV will be read by ATS or not, it is always best to submit a word document in case the tracking system used does not recognise or scan PDF files effectively.

Tailoring your CV to fit the job

Pauline discusses all of the do’s and don'ts of tailoring your CV to a specific job advertisement. She explains how it is good to have a template of your CV, but it is better to look into the job description, assess the key skills, and tailor your CV to those skills.

Some useful points include:

Don’t lose the important information

The aim is to capture the employer or recruiter’s attention. Therefore, it is important to only include the relevant information that relates to the job that you are applying for. Important facts and skills can get lost if you provide too much information.

Transferable skills

Assess the previous skills that you have gained from work experience or education, and think about how they may be transferable to the job that you are applying for.

CAR statements stand for challenge, action, and results statements. This is a way where you can show your key skills in your CV by providing a short narrative of work that you have undertaken to prove your skills. This should be no longer than four lines where you explain a challenge, how you overcame or addressed this, and what the outcome or conclusion was.

Using the past tense

When writing about your previous work experience, transferable skills, or using CAR statements, it’s important to use the past tense to show that it is something you have done and not something that you are just planning to do.

Don’t include your references

Avoid including the contact details for your references on your CV. It won’t look great if your prospective employer contacts your current employer before you have told them that you’re looking for other employment.

Equality and diversity

Is your age, gender, or what you look like important to your application? If this isn’t going to benefit you in your job role, this should not matter to a recruiter or employer. Avoiding putting these details may help you avoid unconscious bias.

Personal statement

Tanya explains how to write a clear, interesting, and useful personal statement, which should sit at the top of your CV. She explains how this is ultimately an introductory paragraph that explains your background and career aspirations. The purpose of this is to capture the employer or recruiter’s interest so they read your CV further.

Tips on how to write an effective personal statement include:

Take a few lines, not paragraphs

The recruiter or employer wants to see an overview of your skills and why you’d be fit for the position. Therefore, the aim is to include a lot of information but narrow it down to no more than ten lines.

Include your current situation

Whether you are currently working, studying, or taking a break from work, include your current situation in your statement.

Tailor to the job that you are applying for

As well as the format and content of your CV, your statement should also be relevant to the job that you are applying for to boost your chances of getting an interview.

Mirror the language

Have a look at the job specification and try to mirror some of the language, skills mentioned, or terminology used. By doing this, you can also mention some keywords that may capture the employer’s attention.

Make sure it flows

Make sure that your personal statement reads well by reading it out loud or to someone else. Check over your spelling and grammar, and also ensure that you’re not overusing buzzwords that may make your statement difficult to read.

First-person

Ensure that your personal statement is in the first person to show that you are talking about yourself and to the employer. This is much more direct and personable.

Don’t include quotes

Including famous quotes or song lyrics (unless stated) is not relevant to the application.

If in doubt, make a checklist

Ask yourself questions such as: What skills and experience do you have that’s relevant? What are your short or long-term goals? Why are you applying for this position?

Try to ensure that your statement answers these questions for you.

Examples and questions

An example of a personal statement is further discussed, followed by a question and answer session, and additional resources and ways in which Kaplan can support you.

Feeling inspired?

For more career advice, inspiration and tips, watch our new YouTube web series, Career Goals. The series features several guests who are achieving their career goals while they share their personal and professional stories, struggles, and advice on how you can progress your career.

To keep up to date with any upcoming webinars similar to Mastering your CV: Tips for aspiring professionals, browse our events page.

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