Top CV Tips

 

As a job seeker, your Curriculum Vitae (CV) is one of the most important tools to enable you to get job interviews and secure the job you want. 

Whatever your reason for seeking a new job, investing time creating and preparing a great CV is extremely important.  Recruiters, in an organisation or an agency, have many CVs to sift through.  Your CV needs to show you in the best light and be straight-forward and easy to read.   

Order and Content: 

The first item to go on your CV is your name and contact information.  Next, include a ‘personal statement’ or ‘profile’.  This gives the reader a quick flavour of who you are and what you might bring to the job and needs to include a brief summary of your skills, experience/achievements, strengths and what sort of role/job you are looking for.   Top Tip: Write this after you’ve finished putting the rest of your CV together. 

The best CV’s list the current (or last) job first as this shows your most recent experience.  Work backwards and list your previous jobs in chronological (date) order.  Put the name of the company you worked for, your job title, dates you were employed (minimum of month and year) and then write three or four lines about what your role and responsibilities were.  If you’ve been working a long time, and/or had a few jobs it’s best to give detail about the last three jobs and then list and write a line about jobs you did before that.   

Make sure your recent experience is applicable to the job you’re applying for and show clearly the skills you have which match the job.  If you’ve written a standard CV, you might want to revise this for each job you apply for.  Top Tip: if you’re applying through a recruitment agency, they will advise you how best to make changes to make sure your CV matches the job.  

When describing your role, remember to state your responsibilities; ie ‘I was responsible for ensuring that all newsletters were despatched on time’.  Also include any specific targets you were given and achieved; ie ‘I regularly achieved my monthly target of £10,000’.  It’s important to describe responsibilities and duties as these may be different even where companies are using the same job title.

Avoid the trap of doing yourself down.  No one is ‘just an administrator’.  Identify your skills and responsibilities by thinking back over a day at work.  What did you do when you arrived first thing?  If you opened up the office, that makes you a ‘key holder’; a responsible task.  Did you sort the post?  Take accurate messages from the answer-machine?  These facts tell a prospective new employer what you are capable of doing. 

Always mention any software packages or computer systems you’ve used.  At work you might be using Microsoft products, but at home you may have an Apple Mac.  Perhaps you use particular CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software.  Mentioning different packages you can use shows not just your current skills, but also your ability to be flexible and learn new skills.  

If you’ve been out of the workplace or you’re looking for your first job you have lots of skills, talents and abilities which you can call on for your CV.

Review any work experience, voluntary or charity work you have done.  What skills can you demonstrate?  As a returner from a paternity break, you’ve had lots of experience in personal organisation; juggling school runs, managing the household budget and negotiating with suppliers. 

Recent graduates and those looking for their first job need to show prospective employers you understand the world of work.  Use any experience which shows a good work ethic, that you can take instructions, work well without supervision and can use your initiative.   

Many people worry about having to have to write a reason for leaving.  If you have a good and static work history, you don’t have to put reasons.   However, if you have some breaks or have moved quite regularly, then it’s worth describing why.  It’s ok to put ‘maternity leave’ or ‘went abroad with partner’. Also, make sure all the dates you put on the CV flow and you have a description for any gaps of times when you weren’t in paid employment. 

It’s still good to mention hobbies and interests, though don’t go over-board.  A couple of lines will be enough and mention any exceptional achievements; eg having won a national competition, as this shows your ability to be committed, focused and dedicated. 

You need to show yourself in a good light, but never tell lies on a CV. 

Getting the Layout and Language Right: 

To make your CV attractive and easy to read keep it simple.  Stick to one or two fonts and use bullet points to make some of the content stand out. 

Although you have already written your name and contact details at the beginning, also put your name on each page.  Top Tip: you could use the ‘header’ tool in your word processing package. 

If you can fit your CV on one page, that’s great.  Don’t attempt to squeeze it on using small font it’s impossible to read.  Go to a second page and number the pages.  Two pages are acceptable for a CV. 

Write using correct English grammar and language.  ‘Txt spk’ is an absolute no.  Use full and proper sentences, full stops and capitals and check your spelling.  It sounds obvious, but many recruiters tell me their ‘CV from hell’ (and they regularly receive them) is the one which includes sentences such as ‘i wud like to apply......’  or has so many abbreviations and TLAs (three letter acronyms), they can’t understand them. 

Your CV should show you’ve taken some time and effort – it’s your advertisement; what conclusions do you want the recruiter to draw from the language and layout you’ve used? 

Covering letter

Once you’ve put your CV together, you will need to write a covering letter/email for applications you make.  This letter should be as professional and well created as your CV.  A good covering letter needs to state what job you’re applying for, why you think you’re suitable for the job and how available you are for interview.  

And finally.... 

Stay positive – you may not like your current job or employer, but it won’t help you get another job if you show this.  Look for the positive in what you do and make sure that is reflected in your CV. 

Always get someone else to proof read your final CV for you – get them to check for understanding, spelling, typographical errors and missing dates.  You could also get a buddy to challenge you – do they really feel you’re showing all your best qualities and abilities? 

Remember; your CV is the advertisement of your skills and ability. To ensure yours gives you the best chance of an interview make sure it is accurate, well laid out, easy to read, proof-read , has your name and contact details on it and, ideally, runs to a maximum of 2 pages A4.  Challenging, but well worth the effort. 

For more information about CV’s and covering letters, visit: 

www.monster.co.uk    www.jobsite.co.uk    www.totaljobs.co.uk

www.reed.co.uk

Top tip: If you’re internet searching for info, do make sure you’re reading about UK based CV’s as other countries, specifically the USA, can be slightly different. 

 

 

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