Creating the CV for the job you want
Curriculum Vitae – “a brief account of a person’s education, qualifications, and previous occupations, typically sent with a job application.”
As the economic recovery continues and the demand for staff increases, employers are becoming ever more discerning in the fast-paced selection process of potential applicants and it has never been more important to go into the job hunt equipped with everything you need to ensure you, and your skills, stand out.
Once you are in through the door at an interview you can prove in person that you are far more than what is printed on paper and the perfect candidate for the role but, until then, a shining CV is one of the main attributes that will get you to the interview in the first place. So without further ado, here are a few pointers of what you should (and shouldn’t) include on your CV along with some tips to make your resume stand out.
Choose a font that is smart, professional and (more importantly), easy to read. Calibri, Arial, Georgia or Times New Roman are all strong contenders and a font size between 10 and 12 is good.
With so many job applications online, CVs are almost always sent via email or through an online portal so remember to print off a copy before you send it so that you know it’s clear to read when printed as well as on the screen - Why? Employers are likely to print the applicants’ CVs at some point to compare them so you want to ensure yours is easy and a pleasure to read.
How the CV is laid out is down to personal preference – Should the Employer be on the left with duties on the right, or Employer above and duties below; the personal profile at the beginning or the end? It doesn’t matter where the information is placed, as long as it is clear, makes sense and is easy to read.
Aim to keep your CV at 2 pages as (generally) anything more is too long. Your CV is supposed to sell you and ‘time starved’ employers may not feel compelled to read to the end of a long-winded document. If you are struggling to condense your CV, remember that anything over 15 years ago requires only your Employer, job title and dates of employment (along with any ‘stand out’ experience that is not included in your more recent history).
The same goes for previous work experience that is not relevant to the job you are applying for so if no transferable skills were used and it was in a different industry, include the job title and dates but leave the duties and responsibilities out.
Spelling & Grammar
We all know spelling and grammar is important and yet this is still often overlooked so read, rest and read again. Why not ask someone else to have a read too as it is good to have a fresh perspective.
It’s not necessary to include information about your age, marital status and who you live with etc. If it is not relevant to the job you are applying for you can leave it out.
Are you a highly motivated team player who also works well independently? The majority of “profiles” on CV’s are too general so consider how many other CVs are going to subject the poor employer to the same, tired clichés and ask yourself whether you want yours to be tarred with same brush. Cut out the irrelevant information and include instead a concise paragraph that sums you, your employment history and your experience up clearly:
“X amount of years working for.... in charge of… and looking for a new opportunity because…” is the kind of snappy, personal profile that will stand out from the rest.
Putting a face to a name
Although it may seem like a good idea, think twice about attaching a photograph of yourself to your resume. Some employers have been known to dismiss all CVs with pictures on to avoid any potential discriminative accusations if an applicant was not offered the job. Unless you have been specifically asked to supply a photo (normally for modelling and acting roles), leave the photos for LinkedIn.
References are important in the interview process so perhaps collect and prepare your references in a separate document. Oh, and you can leave out the “References – available on request” as everyone does that too; and whoever is responsible for taking up references will ask you during the interview process anyway. It’s courteous to ask whoever you are supplying as a reference before you put their name forward and remind them that a potential employer may be calling them if some time has passed since they agreed to vouch for you.
A bit like the personal profile, the hobbies section can appear very generic with at least a couple of “reading”, “walking”, “listening to music” “socialising” and “an avid fan of the cinema” appearing in most CVs. Adrenaline junkies beware too as some employers mark down those who may expose themselves to risk. Whilst not really needed, it has become a bit of a tradition to include a “Hobbies & Interests” section on a professional resume so consider relatable hobbies - “Avid landscape photographer” for a photography role would be a good addition for instance.