The CV is Your First Impression – Make it Impactful and Professional
Your CV is the first point of contact between you and a potential new employer. It is all they may know about you. It seems obvious, but remember to spell and grammar check your CV. This shows attention to detail and doesn't distract the reader with avoidable errors. Keep in mind font size and colour, ensuring that your CV is readable online and in a printable format.
Format/Structure of Your CV
Remember to include your personal contact details (including your home address). Date of birth is no longer required. Dates (months and years) of employment (and any gaps) should be clearly stated throughout your CV. Many organisations will probe gaps as part of pre-employment screening, so be clear on the reason (for example, maternity/paternity leave, travelling, or career breaks). Prepare a short profile which is “future focused” so the reader will immediately identify the role you are seeking and the skills you have. Typical CV Headings: career history (present role/employer, working back), education (qualification, awarding year, institution), voluntary/non-executive positions/experience and other relevant interests.
Outputs and Achievements, Not Tasks
Focus on what you have achieved in your previous roles. Quantify. Don't list a range of tasks, but focus on the outcomes/deliverables of your work and experience, and provide honest evidence. Bullet point achievements and key points rather than writing them in paragraphs. Don’t make each point too complicated and don’t include too many points in your list.
Keep it Simple
Avoid jargon and abbreviations/acronyms (unless these are industry/role standard), and keep to two to three pages maximum.
At professional level, summarise some of your earlier career positions stating: employer, role, years in post, and a short summary of key achievements. Do the same for the education section. Where you are degree/post graduate qualified, it is not necessary to include secondary school qualifications. For graduate/entry levels, highlight extracurricular achievements, class president or similar. Additionally, highlight any previous work experience/internships.
Customise Your CV for Each Role
Tailor, where possible, your skills and achievements to the role. Use the job description/job advert to ensure that you're using the same “language” as your future employer and covering all the key tasks/duties/responsibilities/competencies. Increasingly, organisations are using software selection tools at first “sift”. These software packages have automated search for key words in CVs/applications. Tailoring a CV will ensure you are using the employer's “key words” and ensure that your CV passes this sift. It is worth investing time and effort.
Ask for a second (or more) opinion on your CV. Often, these reviews will help “sharpen” your CV or enhance it with other achievements you may have missed.
Your CV is a statement and will often be accompanied by a covering letter (maximum one page), which should be tailored to the role, emphasising why your application (skills/experience) is a “fit” to the advertised position. There are numerous websites to start or develop your letter. CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) holds some great information on this.
Respond as Directed
Note and follow the submission procedure. Ensure that your application/CV is submitted by the deadline and via the preferred channel (i.e. online, hardcopy etc.). A future employer will often reject late applications.
Your Online Brand
Increasingly, at sift stage, employers will also review Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media accounts for more information about you as a prospective employee. Be careful that your open/online media accounts reflect the brand you are building/have built and presented in your CV and covering letter.
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