Why your CV is so Important
How many ads do you remember every day? When you’re job-hunting you are the ad. Your CV is the first chance you've got to advertise yourself and secure an interview. Make sure you stand out. Don't forget, first impressions last!
1. Identify the requirements of the employer.
Generic CV’s are a definite no. Although it may be time consuming you must tailor your CV to each individual employer’s requirements. Identify the main selling points and the key competencies that the employer is looking for. It is a good idea to begin with a short personal profile detailing who you are, what career path you are interested in and why somebody should read on. This should be adapted for each position applied for. If you can grab the reader’s attention here they are likely to read on. Make sure your CV is consistent all the way through and mention relevant skills and work experience that matches the recruiters’ needs.
2. Decide on a CV Format
There are several formats to use:
>> Skills Based CV
>> Chronological CV
Most employers prefer short concise CV’s as a general rule. Your CV should be no more than two pages long. Think quality, not quantity. On average, readers absorb 60% of the first page, 40% of the second. Always include the most relevant information on the first page of your CV. It is up to you to decide the relative importance of the facts of your life and give the most important ones more space. If a piece of work experience is critically relevant to your application, give it twice as much space as other, less important jobs. Make the most of spaces on your CV. You do not want your CV to look cluttered or hard to read but avoid gaps. Choose a quality A4 paper and take time to lay it out carefully. To ensure that your CV looks good avoid long paragraphs of unbroken text. Break it up with line spaces or bullet points. Keep sentences short and concise. Avoid using words such as “and”, “the”, “we” and “I”, as they tend to dilute the message you are trying to get across. Choose a font style that's neat and a point size that's not too small. Highlight section headings or important text: Using bold and larger point sizes are better than too much underlining.
4. Content Depending on your skill set and the job you are applying for, the content of your CV will vary but there are some key details that do need to be included:
- Personal Details - Name, Date of Birth, Contact Details, Nationality
- Education and Qualifications - Degree, A-levels and GCSE’s (Subjects and results)
- Professional Experience: Think about what the employer is looking for and match up your experience with the requirement necessary for the job you are applying for. Always list you most recent work experience first. Include position held, company, dates of employment and a brief description of your role and responsibilities. It is important that all work experience listed is relevant. Be prepared to be questioned on your experience so have examples ready of where you took on extra responsibility or where you achieved targets that you were set.
- Achievements: When asked what your greatest achievement to date is, just remember that the last thing that an employer wants to hear is “my degree”. Guess what? Everyone applying for the job has a degree so make sure you have an example that makes you stand out from the other candidates. The employer is trying to work out what motivates you and what you consider success to be so always bear in mind their requirements. Try to list examples that are fairly recent.
- Hobbies and Interests: Only include relevant and appropriate information in this section. When talking about hobbies and interests try to demonstrate skills and personality traits that will be suitable for the role you are interested in. For example if you are involved in team sports, showed leadership, competitiveness, reliability etc. Any information should have a purpose and make you stand out from the other applicants. You may be asked to go into more detail if you get to interview stage so once again don’t exaggerate or you could be backed into a corner.
- Additional Information and Skills: Driving license details, additional qualifications, languages and IT skills.
You do not need to include references on your CV unless the application instructions tell you to. You can simple state that “References are available on request". Employers will ask for references if and when they are needed.
Whatever you do ….
- Don’t make false or exaggerated claims. You are likely to be backed into a corner and found out.
- Don’t list work experience in the wrong order. Always put your most recent position first.
- Don't include your required salary. You will either underestimate yourself or overestimate. Either way it will not do you any favours. Negotiate this after you've got the job!
- Don’t provide personal or irrelevant information or enclose a picture. Don’t make spelling mistakes. Poor preparation will undermine your credibility and will put doubts into the employers’ mind about your attention to detail.
- Don’t complicate things. Keep it simple – poor formatting will look unprofessional and if it is too busy you are likely to put the reader off!
Check, Check and Check Again
When you have finished your CV print off a copy and read over it again. Remember this is the format in which it will be read by potential employers. It is a good idea to experiment with lots of styles to see which best enhance your skills and experience.
If possible get somebody else to read through your CV to check for spelling and grammatical errors. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can pick something up you missed. They might also spot irrelevant information.
Always take a copy of your CV to any interviews you attend. It is useful to print a copy out for yourself and make additional notes on it to prepare for any unexpected questions the interviewer may be interested to ask from information included on you CV.