The purpose of a CV is to get you an interview – it needs to sell you. To do that the CV has to:
- Have a 30 second impact:
Time restraints and numbers of CVs received means that many, if not most, recruiters and employers initially spend only 30 seconds speed reading CVs before deciding which ones to look at in more detail.
- Show how your skills and experience match their requirements:
If your CV passes the 30 second test then further review by the recruiter/employer will be focussed on the specifics of how well your skills and experience match their needs and why you stand out against other candidates.
- Answer any questions the recruiter/employer may have:
Experienced recruiters and employers will look beyond the written text on a CV – they will be asking themselves why you are looking for a move, what it is you want from a new job and why, how have you dealt with opportunities and problems in the past.
To help to ensure that these three points are covered here are 10 tips when writing a CV:
- 1. Make sure you know what the recruiter/employer is looking for
- a. Review the job description – check what skills and experience are emphasised.
- b. Research the company – what they do, which industries are they involved with, which sectors of the business are growing.
- 2. Remember the 30 second test
- a. Those first 30 seconds are important! Impact in terms of layout and content are essential.
- 3. Be specific, DON’T WAFFLE!
- a. Less is more – each CV, and each point in it, should be specific to the potential employer – if it isn’t it doesn’t need to be there and should be removed.
- b. Don’t write a novel – your CV is an initial sale pitch, not a story of your life – focus on your performance and the benefits of employing you.
- 4. Keep it simple
- a. Keep formatting and layout simple – too many fonts, patterns, colours detract from the impact of the content and can leave a negative impression.
- b. Use bullet points – these make it easier for you to keep the content brief and make it easier for the employer to both read the CV and focus on the relevant points.
- c. No more than 3 pages max!
- 5. Include a Personal Profile
- a. Look on it as a brief advertisement for you helping to provide the 30 second impact.
- b. Make it a brief paragraph highlighting who you are, your strengths as relate to the role/company, what value you bring and what you are looking for.
- 6. Put things in the right order
- a. Put the best parts of your CV at the beginning.
- b. Always put jobs in reverse chronological order – your most recent job has the most relevance so put it first.
- c. Gaps in employment history make potential employers suspicious – don’t leave them.
- 7. Keep content positive
- a. The CV should be positive – omit poor exam results, reasons for leaving etc.
- 8. Don’t include unnecessary extras
- a. Employers are not allowed to discriminate on age, marital status, health, sexual orientation, religion or politics so don’t include them – it’s not necessary.
- b. Salary should be omitted – much better to discuss after you have had the opportunity to sell yourself.
- c. Long lists of customers, projects etc. lessens the impact and can appear unfocussed – stay specific.
- 9. Check and double check
- a. Spelling and grammar mistakes can make a difference. Don’t rely on spell check – American spellings and the same word spelt differently for different meanings can get past the spell check.
- b. Ask someone else to read the CV to check for mistakes and also to check content is clear and concise.
- 10. Remember communication is key!
- a. Your CV is the first indication any potential employer has of your communication skills.
- b. Failure to communicate your skills and experience in the right way will result in failure to achieve an interview.