CV Tips

A CV should be as concise as possible and give prospective employers, recruiters and agencies a quick summary of your qualifications, experience, skills and suitability for a role. The layout should be kept simple so that the employer will want to read it. You should also try and tailor your CV to emphasize any relevant skills and experiences you have. Employers receive thousands of CVs every-day, so make sure it looks as good as possible.

Making your CV

Work up by unemployment, ill health or self-employment. The focus is on your transferable skills and competencies rather than the jobs you held or the companies you worked for. It emphasizes your achievements throughout your career and groups them under headings such as Team skills, Management and Business Development rather than listing them job by job. Employment details are summarized towards the end of the CV under company name, position held and year dates.

Alternative CVs

These are most effective for senior managers or for people looking for freelance or temporary work. They are also used in creative careers – writing, design, PR and fashion – and are often supported by a portfolio of work.

How many pages?

This depends on the job you are applying for and the norm in your industry/country.

1 Page
These are useful at the start of your career, as credentials, especially in self-employment (like a promotional brochure) or for senior positions (like an executive summary).

2 Pages
The first page should show your work history and the second page is about the additional information about you (education, skills…)

3 or 4 Pages
These tend to be used in IT, specialist or project management roles which need to detail projects, clients or technology, academic roles which need to list papers, publications and research.

What your CV can do for you

Your CV is not your autobiography. It clearly sets out your achievements in previous jobs so that employers can see quickly what you could do for them. The aim of your CV is to get you to the next stage, whether that’s an interview, a meeting, a phone conversation or an email dialogue.

Sometimes it’s your first chance to show what you have to offer :

You might give it to an employer at a first meeting
Or send it to employers, agencies or recruiters as a direct approach or in response to a job advert

You can also use it to remind people of your potential :

When you send in application forms
Before and during interviews, both on the phone and face-to-face

Making your CV stand out

Your CV may be one of hundreds on someone’s desk. Standardized CV templates such as PC formats may help you to structure the information, but if you’re going to increase your chance of an interview, your CV needs to stand out.

Put yourself in the reader’s shoes

Whichever format you choose, make sure you write your CV from the reader’s perspective. You need to market yourself in terms of how you can benefit their organization. Don’t think about what you’re ‘selling’ but what they want to ‘buy’. What are they looking for? Once you know what their needs are, it’s easier to present yourself as the solution.

Make your CV easy to read and interesting

The reader is asking themselves two basic questions: can you do this role and will you fit in? Introduce yourself with one short paragraph profile that sums up your personal and professional attributes. Keep it simple and snappy e.g. ‘A confident and adaptable individual who works well under pressure whilst being able to meet tight deadlines.

Use email as appropriate

Check you use the correct email address so your CV doesn’t lie abandoned in someone else’s inbox. Most CVs are sent as an attachment as .doc or .rtf files or as acrobat files (.pdf). Always check which format they want.

Check if your CV is likely to be scanned

Your CV may be scanned to highlight pre-selected key words or phrases. Make sure your CV gets through the scan by :

Sending an original not a photocopy
Putting your name on the first line of your CV – with nothing else before it
U sing bold for headings only – don’t use it for contact information
Keeping font sizes between 10-14 point
Using basic typefaces that the computer will recognize
Avoiding boxes, graphics, shading, ellipses, brackets, italics, underlining, compressed type, double columns or complicated layouts as they don’t scan well
Never sending a stapled, folded or faxed CV for scanning

Maximizing your CV’s effectiveness

Your CV sells you, your skills and achievements to employers, recruiters and agencies. First impressions count, so make sure your CV makes the right impact.

Will it grab the attention of a busy employer who hasn’t met you?

Do you sound an interesting prospect – someone worth interviewing?
Does it look right?
Is the layout easy to read – does it make you look organized?
Is it in the layout they specified?
Is the most important and relevant information on the first page?

Does it say the right things?

Have you described your results rather than your roles?
Have you backed up your achievements with evidence?
Are there any inconsistencies? Does everything match up?
Are there any bland or hackneyed phrases or management-speak? Edit it all out.
Is it factual and objective? Make sure you highlight achievements and focus on outcomes rather than aims.
Is it relevant, truthful, brief, clear and personal? Use strong action words and positive phrases but without hyping it up.
Don’t use humour – what you find funny might not appeal to a potential employer

Targeting specific roles

Your CV is a living document and you’ll probably need to adapt it to specific employers or roles, especially if you are looking at a number of career options. Employers and recruiters can easily spot a general purpose CV that hasn’t been targeted to their vacancy. Hard-pressed managers haven’t got time to read between the lines, so the more you do to help them see your suitability, the greater chance of getting an interview. Make it easy for them by :

Moulding your CV to their requirements
Highlighting where you match their needs
Bringing out the added value that you could bring to their organization

CV checklist

Keep your CV up-to-date. Any new experiences, skills and qualifications will improve your value to future employers.

Contact information

Your full name, address and postcode, phone numbers and email address.

Personal profile (optional)

A focused summary of what you offer
Designed to grab the reader’s attention and highlight what is to come
Summarizes what you have to offer in a way that links to the employer’s need

Key skills and competencies (optional)

A summary of your key skills
Matches the employer’s needs in terms of job and organization. Highlights transferable skills and competencies, which can be useful if you’re changing direction

Work experience

Start with your most recent position and work backwards
Employers are usually interested in your most recent jobs, so concentrate on your last two positions – although you might occasionally want to highlight earlier roles
Treat a promotion like a separate position
Give the job title, when you started and left the job, the name of the company and a brief description of what they do
List any of your main responsibilities, achievements, duties and skills that relate to the new position
Describe the scope of your job and level of responsibility rather that giving task lists or a job description

Qualifications, education, training and development

Usually these come near the end, but if particular qualifications are essential for the job and make you more marketable (for example in technical and IT roles), put them on the first page after your profile or key skills
Start with the most recent ones as they have the most value
Give the relevant professional qualifications and academic ones, but don’t include ‘bought’ memberships
List degrees or any executive program you have attended and give the subject, awarding body and year so they can be checked
Summarize your school achievements (e.g. 3 A-levels and 8 GCSEs). Only list the subjects if they are particularly relevant to your future role or if you haven’t got a degree
Add any relevant skills such as languages, technology, vocational or on the job training
Include any relevant training or skills acquired while unemployed, on sabbatical or doing part-time or voluntary work

And finally

Provide a covering letter or email to give your CV a ‘voice’. Draw out key points from your CV to state where there is a good match between what is required of the role and what you have to offer.

Personal information

Date of birth (rather than age)
Single or married (if divorced or separated you may prefer to use ‘single’ or ‘married’)
Nationality – only if you’re applying for jobs abroad
Apart from those basics, anything else you add here must add value to your offer. Charitable activities may match an organization’s public commitment to working with the community
Don’t put driving experience if it’s not relevant

Reference and client endorsements

Referees are no longer included on CVs but you should be ready to provide one personal and one professional
Client references could support your CV in a portfolio
Include client endorsements and recommendations in the achievements section of your CV – for example ‘Given a special award by ABC for contribution to ABC project’



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