The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Simple steps to writing a good CV – Guide to #Job hunting

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job-searchWith the economy improving, there are increasingly more job opportunities on the market. And, as the market heats up, so too does the level of competition for each role.

Recruiters and hiring managers can receive literally hundreds of applications for a role. To give yourself the very best chance of going on the ‘Yes’ pile, your CV needs to make an immediate impact and demonstrate exactly why you are right to be considered.

A professional and well written CV will promote you in the best possible light, and give you an advantage in helping to secure interviews. If you want to find a new job, updating your CV can mean the difference between success or failure.

 

So, how do you write a great CV? There are so many answers to that question! However, here are my thoughts about getting it right, first time:
Content

Before you start writing you must train yourself to think from the reader’s perspective and ensure that each and every application you make is tailored specifically for the role that you are applying for. Remember that this is likely to be your first introduction to a prospective employer, and will form the basis for much of what will be discussed at a first interview.

To make a great impact, your CV should be concise, the content clear and well structured. Keep it simple, relevant and to the point.

Roles and Responsibilities

Make these as close a match to the role you are applying for as possible. Ensure that job titles and responsibilities are directly relevant to the job being applied for and where possible an exact match. Reasons for leaving roles and salary levels or salary expectations should not be included – leave that for the interview.

Skills and Experience

Keywords are very important here – your CV will be scanned for the right kind of experience: make sure that it is easy to see and clearly explains where you have added value. No matter how long that experience was, a few years or a one-off project, make sure it reads as relevant and consistent to what you are applying for. Include all relevant skills that you have gained and developed in your current and previous roles. These should compliment your experience and add weight to your application.

Achievements

Be sure to highlight all key achievements in your CV – Don’t forget that hiring managers love to see the CVs of people who have made significant achievements as well as out performed targets. List these in real terms or as percentages and be able to discuss these at interview.

Education

As with the areas above, be sure to include all relevant education, especially if is mentioned as required or desirable in the job description.

Personal Information
Include your full name, address, telephone numbers, email and visa status. I am amazed at how many CVs do not contain a mobile phone number! Avoid anything superfluous such as children’s names, sex, religion, sporting teams you support etc. You are not legally required to include your date of birth or marital status, so leave these off. Be sure to make yourself as contactable as possible, so include your contact details on the header or footer of each page in case the pages of your CV are separated. Add links to any relevant website pages and your LinkedIn profile. Hobbies or interests add very little value, so exclude these unless they are directly relevant. Referees should not be included.
GENERAL TIPS AND ADVICE

1. Language

Use only relevant language and keep it jargon-free, but be sure to use language relevant to the industry you are working in. Think keywords at all times. Your CV should be written in the 3rd person, and in the past tense to describe your career and the present tense for skills and competencies. Use bullet points rather than full sentences to list skills and responsibilities etc.Make sentences more direct by using nouns and verbs on their own, e.g. “Major achievements include” or “Increased profits by 24%”

Avoid cliches – there are so many words that are heavily overused and most recruiters and employers simply ignore them. These include and are certainly not limited to team player, results driven, dynamic, motivated, and entrepreneurial. If it feels like a cliche to you, then it probably is!

2. Format

Ensure that the layout of your CV is simple, uncluttered and easy to read.  Avoid any photos, logos, clip art or borders. Use a universal font in one colour (Helvetica, Arial and Times Roman are great) and bold used only to highlight. Make sure that you send/attach your CV in a format which the recipient will be able to open – this may seem odd to mention but you would be amazed the number of times I have not been able to open an application.

MSWord is best – avoid PDF.  The file name that you use should be your own name, e.g. cathyr-cv.doc – this makes it easy for the hirer and avoids the confusion of a number of applications all called document1.doc or CV.doc.

3. Consistency

Make sure that your CV reads consistently and runs in reverse chronological order. There should be no unexplained gaps at all. Your CV must make sense as a whole document. It must be completely error free so spell check and proofread, proofread, proofread – and then get someone else to proofread it for you. Any errors on your CV can spell the end of the line for your application. Don’t let a spelling, grammatical or consistency error put you straight into the ‘No’ pile. Remember spell checkers don’t sense check your writing, if the word is spelled correctly e.g. if you write ‘hear’ but you meant ‘here’, a spell checker will assume it is correct.

4. Covering Letter

A direct application must be accompanied by a tailored covering letter. Just like the CV this should written specifically for the role that you are applying for. Covering letters are not required for online applications or jobs boards – usually an electronic form is provided for you to complete

One last thought
A little extra time and effort spent in drafting your CV and covering letter could make all the difference to your success and could well be the deciding factor between being offered a great new job and starting, or not interviewing at all! Invest your time in writing your own personalised marketing document (Effevticely, that is your CV!) and you will soon reap the rewards.

Good luck!

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Written by Cathy Richardson

August 6, 2014 at 9:20 am

Posted in Recruitment

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