Until you actually meet your potential new employers, the only thing they can base you on is your paperwork.
Therefore the quality of your CV is crucial. Unless you are a networking wizard they are THE essential tools in your job search. They should be treated like any marketing document, a CV should help you sell yourself and they should be directed at their audience.
Remember proper preparation prevents piss poor performance, so get out your pad of paper and brainstorm your skills, competencies, qualifications and experience. Highlight what your unique selling points and strengths are whilst noting down what you have achieved.
When applying to a specific job advertisement, it pays to review what key words and tasks were used in the advertisement and if possible use these words and similar phrases in your CV.
The look of your CV should reflect the job that you are applying for. A creative role would benefit from a more creative CV.
Whilst the following article by Smashing Magazine was written with Web Designers in mind, in shows how a creative CV can give the first impression of your style of work. As they mention “the résumé is the first portfolio piece that potential employers see, and if they’re not impressed, chances are they won’t look at the rest of your portfolio”.
That being said if the job doesn’t warrant fancy pictures, or vector graphics, it’s not worth including.
Regardless of whether it’s a creative CV or not, content is king, the aim of it is to be read, to be liked and grab the readers attention enough for them to arrange an interview with you.
- Include enough information to stimulate interest, but not so much that you bore the reader. Remember you need something to elaborate on in your interview!
- By providing bite size pieces of information you stand a better chance of having your CV read.
- Three pages should be the absolute maximum. Two is great. keeping it to one page is even better!
- Every word must contribute to the overall message – don’t waffle, keep it brief and ensure that the content is relevant to the job you are applying for.
Remember – a CV that is awkward to read is often put aside and forgotten. Don’t try and be too clever, following a logical layout is very important.
First things first
Put your name (nice and bold) at the top, followed by your home address, phone number and email. Other things to consider include a link to your LinkedIn page and Twitter.
However please think about the content that’s on these sites, if you barely use LinkedIn with only a few connections and not filled your details in any great detail then don’t bother. Same for Twitter, if you use it mostly for banter with your mates then it’s not going to do you any favours however if you are actively involved with discussions which your future employers would be impressed with then stick it on.
One thing to remember when thinking about content is what harm could it do? Unless you are going for a job as a social marketeer, not having a Twitter link probabley isnt going to do any harm however if you stick it on there and they see your latest Tweet about how drunk you got at the weekend and slept in the middle of a roundabout…it might have a negative effect (it might be the clincher in other organisations!!).
Next should be a brief introduction which is pretty much limited to who you are, what you currently do and what you want to do in the future. This could be as short as:
Motivated CAD Technician with 4 years’ experience working for a market leading Architect looking for a CAD Manager’s position.
Keep it simple and short, it should reflect the key skills and experiences required for in the job description. It’s very easy to drag this introduction out and duplicate other sections further down but believe me this is all a recruiter wants to see.
Education vs Employment
What’s next; education or employment? In most cases I would prefer employment, the only exception is if you have little work experience, e.g. recent school leaver, university graduate or only two years’ work experience. If this is the case put your education first.
- Include achievements and quantify them in sales, financial or production terms.
- Present your employment history in reverse chronological order, (i.e. last job first).
- Include other achievements that were not part of your regular tasks.
If you are slightly older and have had more jobs, focus on the most recent and the most significant. The roles you had 20 years ago are less likely to make an impression, you could list these. The amount of elaboration could depend on how many pages you have written. If it’s the difference between 2 pages and going onto a third, cut it down to the minimum.
Other bits of information
Include a list of key skills, specialist software pages used, any languages, training courses undertaken or professional memberships.
List your hobbies and interests in no more than three lines, and only if they are relevant to the position in question. If you know that the company has a football team, make sure you say you enjoy playing (don’t lie though), small details like these can sometimes be the difference. Any voluntary or charity work or external posts you hold are worth including.
Do not feel you have to provide referees on your CV, these can be provided at a later date.
Double check your work, get someone else to check your spelling and grammar. Does the content grab them? Is it easy to follow? Careless mistakes can be real turn off.