Basic CV Writing Guide

Get basic CV tips for your first job hunt
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Finally graduating but haven’t got a clue what the next step is? OnlineCV has just what you need to create an effective basic CV for entry-level positions. Or if you’re just not getting the interviews, use this easy guide to revise your curriculum vitae and find your dream job now.

It’s crucial that basic resume candidates maintain a straightforward and simple approach to composing a CV that highlights their strengths and relevant experience without making the reader feel bogged down with extra information that isn’t useful for their candidacy.

To write a standard CV candidates need to know what the basic requirements are that employers look for and our guide teaches you just that! Read on for information on which CV format is best for a first job application, what to include and tips for basic CV writing.

In addition to this guide, a super simple way to create a basic CV for first-timers is by employing an online CV writer that will give you expert advice and professional examples.

How to write a simple CV

Similarly to student CVs, writing a simple CV for an entry-level position can be a challenge for many job seekers if they have little to no work experience or they don’t know how to go about formatting a CV or what information is most important to include. But after a little research, it’s actually quite an easy task.

Ideally, basic CV candidates should begin their planning by listing their relevant experience and achievements which pertain to the role they wish to pursue. This means asking themselves certain questions about their academic and professional career which will give them an idea of what they have accomplished in their particular field and how these achievements make them the ideal candidate for the vacancy.

As with any job application, entry-level CV candidates will need to have several copies of their CVs for each role or company they apply to. Even with several versions of a curriculum vitae, it’s still critical to maintain a certain simplicity in order to not over complicate the application and confuse a prospective employer, that may lead to your CV being binned.

Simple CV format

A basic CV layout must be well structured in order to emphasise the relevant information and make a simple CV easy to read. Formatting your curriculum vitae may seem like a secondary factor in your search for a job but there’s a big difference when you see a simple and straightforward basic CV design and an application which lacks a structure or features such as headings or margins which make the document understandable for the reader.

If you do not make your basic CV presentable, it does not matter what qualifications or experience you can bring to the table because a potential employer won’t be able to find that information in a messy or disorganised CV.

The different elements to be considered in a simple CV format include the overall length, in what order you present the relevant information, the fonts and sizes of the text, page margins and the headings you use to present each section.

As it can be challenging to make a winning CV with a professional format, often it is useful for candidates to use CV templates which already have a specific layout created for different profiles.

  • To create an optimised basic CV, the overall length should be between 1 – 2 A4 pages although 3 pages is acceptable in special cases, where the industry or role requires a longer portfolio or explanation of expert knowledge.
  • The fonts used should be simple, easy to read and clear and not vary greatly throughout which means you should stick to 1 or 2 fonts. Good, professional font type choices include Arial, Times New Roman or Calibri and these should be between 10-12 in size in order to be legible yet not too big as to use up valuable space on your CV.
  • Headings can use larger font or be put in bold to demonstrate the different CV sections clearly.
  • Margins should be of a standard format and not be made too small in order to fit more information in because the CV will appear cluttered and give a bad impression to the reader, in this case an entry-level employer.

If you need help finding an eye-catching CV for your first job you can always try using a online CV maker that offers a range of templates and examples to choose from and gives tips on completing your first job application.

What sections should be included?

Much the same as the professional CV, candidates creating a basic CV will need to include various sections informing the prospective employer of different aspects of the candidate’s professional profile so they can make an informed decision regarding the right applicant.

The following are the sections that should be included in a basic CV for a first or entry-level position:

Name and contact information – Firstly, it is important to title your basic CV with your full name and give brief information regarding your contact details such as your professional email and phone number and a location, although it is not necessary to add a full address.

Personal statement – As an introduction to your winning basic CV, it is advisable to add a short paragraph of 2 or maximum 3 sentences which is sometimes known as a resume objective or summary statement which evaluates your professional profile in a few words, giving brief details of achievements and skills.

Education – In a simple CV for recent graduates, postgraduates or entry-level job seekers, the education section will play an important role because most of the candidate’s relevant experience will come from their academic career. Jobseekers can highlight different courses, projects, assignments, presentations, seminars etc. that relate to the role they’re applying for. Make sure the information provided is pertinent and clear without overdoing it.

Work experience – This section may be short or non-existent for some basic CV applicants due to having little to no professional experience but there are activities that candidates will have participated in that can be used as evidence of work experience such as work placements, internships, part-time or after-school jobs and especially voluntary experience which is highly valued nowadays in any type of curriculum vitae at any level. When including information about these experiences, it’s important to mention the job title or role, corresponding dates, a location and company or organisation name as well as listing either through bullet points or adding a short paragraph description of responsibilities and accomplishments in the position.

Skills – The basic CV for a first job may take the style of one of the CV formats which focuses more heavily on skills in order to downplay the lack of experience of an entry-level candidate or recent graduate, therefore it depends on the type of CV you feel is appropriate for your profile how you present your soft and hard skills. Either way, a core competencies or professional qualities section on a basic CV is vital nowadays to stand out in the job application process and demonstrate to a potential employer the importance of having you as part of their team.

Other – Depending on the profile of the applicant, it can be beneficial to include different extra sections on a simple CV as long as you do not create a curriculum vitae comprised of details which are irrelevant to the position you’re applying for.

Think about including information such as publications you have written, seminars or conferences attended, training sessions completed, awards won or even hobbies if they can demonstrate required qualities for the role or are in line with the company culture.

Tips for writing a simple CV

Creating an optimised basic CV requires a unique approach for each candidate or you will simply become another one on the pile and won’t make it through to the interview stage. Employers want to find someone to hire quickly and without fuss, which is exactly how your CV should be so take a look at these tips for making a basic CV that will help you make it to the top of the shortlist.

  • Once you have a first draft for your basic CV, it is highly recommended to take another look at the job description and information given on the vacancy or person specification to find keywords that you can use to describe you and your achievements in order to stand out in the application process.
  • Employers scan the many resumes they receive for these keywords and phrases in order to weed out the unsuitable candidates, so don’t let yourself down by forgetting to add the relevant keyphrases and important powerful verbs to illustrate your career details.
  • Additionally with the use of keywords you can be sure to make it through any Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) scans which are programmed to filter out any CVs that don’t comply with the job requirements.
  • Remember that employers are stuck reading through dozens, or sometimes more, similar CVs with the same qualifications or skills or experience so you need to ensure you keep your basic CV short and sweet and to the point so that HR can see the necessary information quickly and find exactly what they need to know about you and your accomplishments easily to convince them to call you for an interview.This means no long paragraphs, extensive lists or unnecessary information!
  • As a first job CV, it’s essential for candidates to tailor each CV they make to the right role. This means creating various versions of your curriculum vitae, highlighting different aspects of your career and professional profile, whether that be a change in displaying the skills you possess, adapting the experience or adding new keywords.
  • One way to make this task easier and much quicker, is to use a basic CV builder to copy and modify your CVs per position in just a few clicks.
  • Finally, no matter how you choose to write your basic CV, whether using CV templates, an online CV creator or from scratch, do not forget the importance of revising the final version and proofreading your work.

The best idea is to get a friend or peer to take a look and do not rely on computer spell checkers as they may be set to US American and might not always detect an error that could cost you the interview for your perfect job!

Select the best type of CV

Currently in the job searching market, there are 3 main types of curriculum vitae to choose from to create your personalised basic CV in a format that employers recognise. Find the best CV layout for your profile from the descriptions below which provide information regarding each type:

  • Chronological CV – Although the reverse chronological structure is one of the most widely accepted CV formats, it may not be the most appropriate for entry-level candidates creating a basic CV due to a possible lack of work experience.

If you haven’t got a clear career trajectory the chronological CV is not ideal as the main body of the resume is based on the job history and what the candidate has achieved in their career up to that point, therefore it is better suited to professionals in their sector.

  • Functional CV – The skills or qualifications-based application format known as the functional CV could be a possibility for certain entry-level candidates especially those who are changing careers and have lots of professional know-how to rely on but who do not have the relevant experience in the sector or position.

Functional CVs are used to accentuate the qualities and achievements of the individual and do not give emphasis to the work history section by removing the general descriptions which are popular in chronological format CVs.

  • Combination CV –  The final CV format is the combination resume which is growing in popularity since employers have begun giving more importance to the qualities a candidate can bring to the company as it has a mix of both the previous types of CV format: a reverse chronological job history with brief details and a qualifications or achievements section dedicated to short paragraphs explaining the candidate’s accomplishments and competencies.

This CV format would work well for basic CV candidates looking for a first job after graduation as they can combine the experience they have within their academic career, the qualities gained through social, athletic or educational activities and any extra training, work experience or volunteering in order to demonstrate their aptitude for the position available.

Easy to read

The presentation of your basic CV is critical because although you can have the best experience and be the most qualified person for a job vacancy, the only way a prospective employer will find out is if you present each aspect of your profile in a clear and concise manner with a reader-friendly format and headings for each section.

Additionally, it’s key to use coherent language which is easily understandable for a hiring manager and not to use too much technical slang which they may not be familiar with if the HR manager does not work within your specific field.

It is essential that you follow general advice regarding how long a CV should be and information concerning fonts and margins etc. in order to present a basic CV that is pre-approved by HR experts and takes into consideration the requirements of entry-level employers.

You can get formatting rules and details about how to write a CV from our online guides and use the best tools such as CV templates, examples of each section and an online CV builder by Online-CV for any industry or position.

When to use a basic CV

If you’re not sure which type of CV is best for your professional style or when to use a basic CV, begin by considering your circumstances, experience and the level of position you’re looking to apply for.

If you are for example creating an entry-level CV, the basic CV type is ideal for you to ensure you include the right sections and focus attention on the achievements and skills for entry level candidates.

If you’re just leaving school or graduating university you may well be in need of a first job CV which is another occasion when a simple CV layout would be ideal.

If you already have lots of experience in your field or industry, a basic CV will probably not cover enough of the information you should include in your professional job application. Nor is a basic CV optimal for high school students or those wishing to get a job to accompany their studies as it focuses more on entry-level positions and a first step towards a professional career.

Basic CV templates

Take a look at some basic CV templates and choose one for your customised curriculum vitae to complete an effective first job application.

Often people spend far too much time debating how to format a CV, what information to include and what not to put on a CV and not enough time actually job hunting with their finished application, which is why basic CV examples are a useful tool for jobseekers to save time and energy on this first stage so they can get on with the ever-important job search.

Using simple CV samples also allow candidates to chop and change their curriculum vitaes easily and quickly without having to start from scratch for different positions or industries. Another way of tailoring various CVs is to use an online CV maker which offers distinct templates depending on the type of role you’re applying for.

Basic CVs or entry-level resumes as they can be known are sometimes the first CV that a person will have to write which means they may not have a clue as to how to go about it. In this respect, Online-CV’s basic CV templates are an excellent helping hand for first-job candidates to know how to place the right level of importance on their specialist expertise, qualifications, experience and skills among other CV sections.

Last modified on 15 October 2020

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