Be clear and keep it simple
Anyone should be able to pick up your CV and immediately understand who you are and what you do. Jargon just grates, confuses and gives an impression of someone who is a touch superior and non-inclusive.
Answer the "why you?” question
Put yourself in a potential employer’s shoes and ask the same question. A phrase that’s often used is "what makes you different?” we think a better question to ask is "what makes you better?" – if too different then you may not be a match.
Create a powerful personal profile
A succinct, impactful, opening paragraph that instantly grabs the reader’s interest will help you stand out. However, if it appears as a few generic lines, written with little thought, it will be glossed over or worse still, be counter-productive – especially if you have stated 'excellent written communication skills' in your profile. Remember this is a personal brand statement.
Highlight what makes you a strong candidate
Prioritise and emphasise your most relevant experience, skills and achievements. If you are applying for a particular role or company, use their language and terminology; help them quickly spot your strong potential ‘fit’.
Content over design
Traditional doesn’t mean boring - trust us. Recruiters and decision-makers won’t admire the carefully chosen colour scheme or fancy typeface, they will just find your efforts to make your CV ‘stand out’ distracting and attention seeking. Quite simply, your experience and achievements should be enough the gain the right attention.
Honesty is always the best policy
Bridge gaps or short periods of self-employment in a positive way. Keep it matter-of-fact and simple. This is an area where people feel apologetic and can be tempted to make the odd embellishment – don’t. If you are concerned about questions that may arise from any aspect of your CV, you may find the assistance of an interview coach invaluable.
Choose the best CV format for the purpose
Whilst there is no definitive best CV format, the two most common styles are:
A performance CV, this is the most common and popular CV format in which work history is listed by job role and company in reverse chronological order. Responsibilities and achievements are then listed by each role; be selective with duties though, so it doesn’t read like a job description.
A skills-based or functional CV is ideal if you are looking to change career or industry, as this CV format focuses on transferable skills and helps a prospective employer understand the relevance of your expertise. Choose up to six skills and highlight how you have used these effectively and what you have achieved.
Education, first or last?
Education should be first if you are a graduate, followed by volunteer and work experience. A level subjects (if relevant) and grades should be listed, along with degree classification. Unless you have top GCSE grades, just list your total number of passes, however, do state ‘including Maths and English’ (if they are included). After starting your career though, education and professional qualifications should be after work history. At the point when career achievements supersede school exam results, A level results should be condensed too.
“There, their, they’re”
No, these won’t be the comforting words you’ll here from a prospective boss when typos are spotted. You are more likely not to hear anything from them at all. Poor spelling and grammar are at the top of the list of employer and recruiter complaints. If you are planning to write your own CV, getting it at least proofread might be money well spent.
Hobbies and interests
First, the word hobbies should never be on a CV, as it conjures up all sorts of idiosyncratic pursuits. Interests is a better heading, but only add those that help sell ‘your brand’; for example marathon running shows commitment and focus.
Never make it too personal
A CV is a professional document, so keep that thought consistently in mind throughout. Your CV is one of the first impressions a prospective employer will have of you, so a personal email, based on a nickname from your university days, may dilute your impact! In addition, listing age/date of birth, marital status and dependents is not required in a twenty-first century CV.
Finally, a statistic to leave you with – the average time a recruiter spends to skim read a CV is a mere 30 seconds – not long on which to base a decision.
We offer a free CV review service. If you would like feedback on your CV and some additional CV tips, please contact us.