Your CV is the first thing a perspective employer gets to see, and it is from this that they can gage their first impression of the kind of person – possible employee – you will make.
This article will outline the top 10 things you can do to improve your CV and make it work for you – and help get through that first stage of the job application!
CV Tips & Guidelines
1) Remember what ‘CV’ means!
The definition of Curriculum Vitae – CV – is a written account of your details that are required when applying for employment opportunities. This should include employment experience, academic achievements and transferable skills.
There is also the Latin meaning of the Curriculum Vitae, and that is “courses of life”. This means that the CV covers how you got to the point you are at now – from your education to your work. But be Sensible!
A perspective employer does not need to know what nursery and pre-school you attended – or that you once won a drinking contest in your local!…They do want to know what grade degree you have achieved – or the fact that you were promoted to Team Leader in your last role based on an outstanding performance!
So when deciding which information belongs in your CV document, begin by thinking about what it means and what you have done in your life that is relevant to this type of document – and to your target job market!
2) Keep it relevant
ON AVERAGE – IT TAKES A PERSPECTIVE EMPLOYR JUST 12 SECONDS TO READ YOUR CV FOR THE FIRST TIME
The employer needs to know the most important and most relevant things first to encourage them to keep reading!
For those that have recently left education and have limited work experience – whether it be school / college / university – place academic achievements first.
For those who have built up a professional, extensive career, place your most recent work experience first.
If you are one of the lucky ones that possess both of the above….start with transferable skills and then use your best judgement depending on the requirements of the job.
Example: If the job advertisement states that a degree is required and experience not necessary..start with your academic achievements.
3) Stay one step ahead of the competition!
listing your transferable skills and abilities could raise you above your competitors, by ensuring your perspective employer knows what you are capable of.
This can be done by bullet points –
- Language Skills
- Computer Skills
- Competence Skills
4) Keep it to the point!
Be merciless with yourself and try to keep it to a limit of 2 pages.
Only very high-ranking, qualified executives may be allowed to have more than this quota. Anything longer than 2 pages, and you run the risk of your CV not even being read.
Do not allow your CV to find itself to the ‘bedtime reading’ pile due to it being too dull and booooriiing……
5) Make your Degree important
Your Degree is probably the your most important asset when job searching – this is because they can be very transferable to any industry and any role…..
Not only does a Degree give you the knowledge of your desired subject area, they also display your skill set!
So… Tell the perspective employer reading your CV more about your degree, not just the modules that were included…
It takes at least 3 years to achieve a Degree – This shows dedication and commitment….
A majority of Degrees will involve project work / Dissertation – This shows organisation, academic competence, computer literacy….
Group work / Presentations? – This shows the ability to speak to an audience, work well within team dynamics…..
6) Keep up-to-date with technology
The world of communication is ever-changing – and to ensure you stay ahead of your competitors – you need to too!
Companies now use a variety of methods to advertise…and vet their candidates..such as ‘Facebook’, ‘Twitter’, ‘Online Job Advertisements’ and ‘Email’.
If you are not computer literate, get yourself booked on an IT Training course!
They are offered at a majority of community locations, such as libraries or colleges, and for the basic beginners course – they are usually free!
If you use social networking sites, there are two things to remember whilst job searching_
1) Use it for networking! Ask about – Look up companies pages – Get connected with old colleagues…it all helps!
2) Use it wisely! Anyone can get a look at your profile – not just your friends. Many perspective employers use facebook to vet their CV’s – some even prior to interview stage! So if you have been out on the lash with your friends, please do not tag yourself as the drunk person standing on top of a lamppost in your underwear – this is not a good look!
7) Do Not Lie!
It is never a good idea to lie about anything on your CV, and the penalty can be quite harsh. A majority of people who lie on their CV do get found out, and do lose their chance of the job as a result.
There are various reasons to lie – but these can be dealt with without having to lie.
University grades – Most employers will contact your University for a reference and to confirm your grade. If your grade is not as high as you wish, list the other positive things you completed and achieved at University – such as the individual high grade you achieved on your project work, or the excellent feedback from your presentation.
Altering dates of employment – If you have had numerous jobs in a small space of time, there are alternative methods other than lying to make it positive on your CV:
You should not state the reason you left a job on your CV. The main purpose of the CV is to get you to interview stage, and if they require this type of information, it is at this stage that they can ask.
If they are temporary contracts but with the same agency – use the agency name as your company name and list the contracts underneath.
Write a skills-based CV. This is when you list the achievements and successes that you’ve had in the jobs you’ve undertaken in order of relevance; rather than listing your career in date order.
Do not exaggerate your job title – If your CV is reference checked this will always be found out! Instead, show how you have been performing by explaining the content of your job role.
Salary – There are reasons why you may feel the need to lie about your salary on your CV, but by doing so, you have reduced your opportunity to negotiate during your interview.
There’s no escaping the fact that CV writing takes time and effort – you are not going to impress anyone by lying. if you can show that you can deliver wheat they require, and can use your initiative, then there’s no need to lie.
So, stick to the truth, but just word it the right way!
Ensure that there is no grammar or spelling mistakes within your CV.
If a perspective employer has a pile of 100’s of CV’s to go through, they will imply filtering techniques to reduce their pile – and one thing that will be looked for is grammar and spelling, and also sentence cohesion.
Bad grammer, spelling and sentance cohesion shows thet you have not takn the time to chek your document, and also displays a lak of attention to detal…..
9) Cover letter
Every job application you make should be accompanied by a good cover letter.
Some companies and agencies may have many different vacancies advertised at the same time, and by receiving a lonely CV, many will not know what to do with it or what job vacancy it relates to…and it will find its way to their bin-shaped filing system!
Whether you are applying by email, post or fax, always include a cover letter which states the following –
- Clearly any reference numbers
- The position you are applying
- A short sentence as to why you are applying
- Finally a short thank you at the end
Keep it to the point, keep it relevant and make sure it is matched to the job you are applying for! It is all well and good having a template cover letter, but ensuring the details are changed for each job application will go a long way…..
10) Keep a record
Picture the scene – You have been applying for 100000’s of jobs on a daily basis, your CV has followed all of the above 9 tips, you are feeling a little disheartened by the lack of response, making little (well…quite long actually) lists in your head of all the things you are going to buy and pay for when you get that first pay check, checking your phone and email every 5 minutes…wishing it to beep…. or ring…..just ANYTHING!
And then it happens……the phone rings!
You answer and it is Mr Smith from a company you have never heard of…and he starts asking you questions about the job you have applied for that you cannot remember doing but are pretty sure you have, and he asks what you can tell him about his company, and why do you feel you will be suitable for their role…..and before you know it..you find yourself saying things like “erm…I’m not sure” and “erm…erm…erm….I don’t know” and then
It’s gone! That interview opportunity has disappeared as quickly and as easily as that!
So…as they say…prevention is better than cure! And the best, most effective way of preventing this complete disaster is to keep a record!
Buy yourself a notebook, and everytime you send your CV, MAKE A NOTE! Keep a record of the –
- Job vacancy title
- The company
- The date,
- Method of application
- A little bit of helpful information about the company
Then when that phone rings – and it WILL – you can simply as the caller to hold on for 1 minute, grab your trusty notebook…and BOOM! You can tell them everything they need to know as to why you are perfect for their job vacancy!
All that’s left to do is to now prepare for that interview…