It’s a tough world out there when you are looking for a job, and having an outstanding CV that jumps out from the crowd and grasps by the employer by the chin is essential to your success. Many of us have a CV, somewhere, we think, but it’s probably slightly out of date, and may contain information that is no longer valid, information that has been overridden by new information, such as new qualifications and it may even have a few errors in it. These are issues you just can’t afford to have in this day and age, so here are some tips and some advice to get your CV up to the standard you need it to be.
Structure it Well
There is not a right or a wrong way to write your CV, but it should cover the basics and have clear sections with information. This should include your personal information (address, contact details), educations and qualifications attained, your work history and experience, any relevant skills, a small paragraph on your hobbies, valuable (relevant) achievements and hobbies, and a references section. Divide the sections with headers for clarity.
You may have sent a cover letter, but there is no harm in introducing yourself with a short paragraph at the top of your CV. Keep it short, simple and enticing without repeating anything you have already written elsewhere in your CV.
Present it properly
The way your CV looks at first impression is very important. It should not be on a scrumpled up ball of paper with smudges all over, written in curly bright pink font and full of errors. Your CV SHOULD, however:
- Be on crisp paper: white is preferred.
- You should hand it in sealed into an A4 envelope so it is not folded or creased if possible.
- Use a clear font such as Verdana or Calibri. Times New Roman is OK but it will look like you haven’t changed it from default.
- Keep it black and white unless you are trying to get a job in arts or it has been designed professionally and tastefully.
Have Someone Proofread It
Making sure there are no mistakes is important. A CV riddled with errors will be mocked, as there is quite simply no excuse. Spellcheck is not thorough enough, so have a friend go over it for you.
Emphasising your skills and the relevance to the job is fine, but make sure that everything on your CV is factually correct. Failure to do so could result in dismissal should the information, once verified, come back as inaccurate. If you have points on your driving license, don’t say it is a clean full UK license; simply mention that you have a full UK driving license.
Keep it Short
Don’t waffle if you can avoid it, and instead try and keep your CV to two A4 sheets or less. Even for high rolling executive roles, you can cover the essentials on two pages (only go into detail about a job if something you did in that position is relevant to the new role). An employer uses your CV to tick the boxes, and an interview to find out the full story.
Tailor your CV to fit the role
Make sure the information on your CV is completely relevant. Some roles will have had different responsibilities compared to others, so if you want to pick out points from some roles to support your application, do so. Mention skills, hobbies and achievements that may be valuable to you in the new position, but leave out the weird, exotic and downright bizarre stuff. Leave that for once you have accepted the job (e.g. “I like to dress as Darth Vader at weekends when I have my son”).
Make the Most Of Your Skills Section
Can you speak another language? Even if you only know basic Hello/Goodbye/How are you/What is your name etc. in a different language, it could be valuable to your role, particularly if your new job could involve working with offices and clients around the world. Other skills such as communication, team work and using a computer may seem like bread and butter, but every job now will require them and an employer will be looking for these on your CV, so don’t leave them out.
Many people choose to write ‘references available on request’, and it is not compulsory to include them. However, adding them to your CV will make you appear confident, as though you know these people are willing to support you and recommend you for your work. Include two references if you can.
Keep Information up to Date
If you do something new, go straight onto your CV and update it. Any courses, work or work experiences, any new skills or hobbies that could make you shine out brightly in the crowd should be added. You are trying to impress your employer, and keeping an updated CV will help with this.