Five steps to CV success
Alistair Stafford

Five steps to CV success

How to write a great CV

First published date November 07 2013 Amended date August 28 2015

Are you looking for a job? Or perhaps your current employment has left you thinking about a career change? Whatever your situation, when it comes to updating and writing your CV for job applications, you’re looking for any way possible to stand out from the crowd.

When you start putting together your curriculum vitae, chances are as you come to filling in the ‘additional skills and experience’ section, you’ll be left scratching your head for ideas. Fear not though, as there are many simple ways (some of which you may already have) to give your CV that boost it needs. Here are Hotcourses’ five CV writing tips to give you the best chance possible of getting that dream job:


Learn a language

Not studied a language since that horror German or French GCSE exam? Or perhaps you’re looking to progress from a beginner to a more advanced knowledge of a foreign dialect? If you are able to speak in more than one language then that puts you in a good minority. Around half a billion people speak Spanish worldwide, yet less than 1% of the UK population can do so. The figures are even fewer with Mandarin and Cantonese, despite a growing number of British businesses developing links with the Far East.


You don’t have to become fluent in a foreign tongue, with language classes at all levels, but having the ability to hold basic conversation in a second language is a great skill to hold. Even if you don’t end up using it frequently, at least it will mean you can order a meal more easily on your next summer holiday!


Improve your IT skills 

It’s more than likely that you’ve got a computer, as government statistics show that 93% of working adults have internet access at home, but are you part of the large number of those that lack the computer skills to do anything other than the basics? We’re not saying you need to be an experienced programmer or an HTML expert, but if you don’t know your Publisher from your PowerPoint , you may need some extra training.

Courses are available for a wide range of abilities, ranging from those who know little about Microsoft Office (the set of programmes most companies use for their day-to-day work) to those computer whizz-kid’s looking to develop some added web design knowledge, all of which bring new qualities for you to highlight when writing your CV.


Master the digital world

Do you have the latest smart phone but are unable to use it to anywhere near its potential? Even if you’re already a confident multimedia user, there are plenty of ways you can keep adding to your digital media skills. You may think that these are only important for those interested in pursuing a media career, but with more companies than ever now having a digital profile, they’re actually transferable skills that would be beneficial for almost any career.

In a generation where mobile users frequently post to Facebook and Twitter or upload content to Instagram or YouTube, an understanding of social media is crucial. Being able to say you’re a confident photographer or have basic video editing knowledge can also be good traits, as companies look for versatile staff.


Pass your driving test 

Assume that virtually everybody can drive so it isn’t worth mentioning? Well, being able to say you can is actually a huge advantage, as surprising DVLA figures show that as many as one in three adults in the UK don’t hold a driver’s licence. Even if you’re one of the millions of people who use public transport to commute to and from work each day, simply being able to write on your CV that you hold a licence significantly boosts your employability prospects. 

Driving lessons can be booked either individually or in blocks, enabling you a taste of driving before committing to further lessons (just in case it isn’t for you). As part of your licence you’ll also complete your theory test and who knows, eventually you may want to learn in a lorry or even switch to two wheels on a motorbike!


Show off your talents

If you’re an expert on a musical instrument or had experience in the performing arts, then it’s well worth writing on your CV. Although you may think that learning the guitar or previously taking part in the village hall play isn’t really relevant when applying for work, it actually tells your prospective employer a huge amount about your personal attributes.

Being able to grasp an instrument or preparing for a performance shows your potential future boss that you have a good memory (those lines don’t remember themselves!), are able to grasp new skills and have good time management, which are three great characteristics to be able to demonstrate.


As you can see, there are a massive number of courses you can enrol on to increase your versatility and improve your CV when applying for jobs. Whatever you decide to do, by following our CV writing tips, all that extra experience bulging off your CV will really kick start your career prospects!

Alistair Stafford

With a BA in Journalism, Alistair has a passion for writing, especially if it's got anything to do with football or other sports. In his spare time, he's big on exercise and he once completed the London Marathon.