When it comes to applying for a new job, your CV could be just the ticket to get you that initial foot in the door and secure an interview. But how do you ensure your CV is added to the ‘interview pile’ rather than straight to the bin?
Putting together a successful CV is easy once you know how. It’s a case of taking all your skills and experience and tailoring them to the job you’re applying for. But what if you haven’t got the right criteria, I hear you say. Well, I’ve put together the following top 10 tips to help you create a successful CV…
1. Get the basics right
There is no right or wrong way to create a CV but there are some common sections that you should cover. These include: personal and contact information; education and qualifications; work history and/or experience; relevant skills to the job in question; own interests, achievements or hobbies; and some references.
2. Presentation is key
A successful CV is always carefully and clearly presented, and printed on clean, crisp white paper. Its layout is always clean and well structured. They should never be crumpled or even folded, so use an A4 envelope to post your job applications. Always remember the CV hotspot – the upper middle area of the first page is where the recruiter’s eye will naturally fall, so make sure you include your most important information there.
3. Stick to no more than two pages of A4
A good CV is clear, concise and makes every point necessary without waffling. You don’t need reams and reams of paper; you just need to keep things short and sweet. A CV is merely a reassurance to a potential employer – it’s a chance to tick the right boxes. And if everything is satisfied, there is a better chance of a job interview. Plus employers receive dozens of CVs all the time so it’s unlikely they’ll read each one from cover to cover. Most will make a judgment about a CV within sections, so stick to a maximum of two pages of A4 paper.
4. Understand the job description
The clues are in the job application, so read the details cover to cover. Take notes and create bullet points, highlighting everything you can satisfy and all the bits you can’t. With the areas where you’re lacking, start to fill out the blanks by adapting the skills you do have. For example, if the job in question requires someone with sales experience, there’s nothing stopping you from using any retail work you’ve undertaken – even if it was something to help pay the bills through university. It will demonstrate the skills you do have and show how they’re transferable.
5. Tailor the CV to the role
When you’ve established what the job entails and how you can adhere to each requirement, create a CV specifically for that role. Remember, there is no such thing as a generic CV – every CV you send to a potential employee should be tailored for that role. So don’t be lazy and hope that a general CV will work because it won’t. Create a unique CV for every job you apply for. You don’t have to re-write the whole thing – just adapt the details so they’re relevant.
6. Making the most of skills
Under the skills section of your CV, don’t forget to mention key skills that can help you to stand out from the crowd. These could include: communication skills; computer skills; team working; problem solving or even foreign language skills. Skills can come out of the most unlikely places, so really think about what you’ve done to grow your own skills… even if you take examples from being in a local sports team or joining a voluntary group – it’s all relevant.
7. Making the most of interests
Under interests, highlight the things that show off skills that you’ve gained and employers look for. Describe any examples of positions of responsibility, working in a team or anything that shows you can use your own initiative. For example, if you ran your university’s newspaper… or if you started your own football team which has become a success. Include anything that shows how diverse, interesting and skilled you are. Don’t include passive interests like ‘watching TV’ or ‘reading’ – these are solitary hobbies that can be perceived as you lacking in ‘people’ skills. Make yourself sound really interesting.
8. Making the most of experience
Use assertive and positive language under the ‘Work History & Experience’ section, such as ‘developed’, ‘organised’ or ‘achieved’. Try to relate the skills you’ve learnt to the job role you’re applying for. For example, ‘The work experience involved working in a team…’ or ‘This position involved planning, organisation and leadership as I was responsible for a team of people…’ Really get to grips with the valuable skills and experience you have gained from past work positions, even if it was just working in a restaurant – every bit helps.
9. Including References
References should be from someone who has employed you in the past and can vouch for your skills and experience. If you’ve never worked before, you’re ok to use a teacher or tutor as a referee. Try to include two if you can.
10. Keep your CV updated
Finally, it’s crucial to review your CV on a regular basis and add any new skills or experience that are missing. For example, if you’ve just done some volunteering or work experience, make sure they’re on there – potential employers are always impressed with candidates who go the extra mile to boost their own skills and experience.
Courtesy of @creative_bloom Katy Cowan.