Why is a CV important?
The CV is your main entry point into a new job or career, it is what will get you to the interview stage, so taking the time to analyse the vacancy and compare the role with your key skills is paramount.
Everything you detail from employment history to hobbies tells a potential new employer something about you. The employer will be looking for a specific type of person, not only with suitable experience or qualifications, but also the most appropriate cultural match.
A well written CV will be something that paints a picture of you, whilst detailing achievements and future aspirations to get you that all important interview.
Nowadays agencies and employers are receiving hundreds of CVs for each role so it is vital that your CV and covering letter stand out from the crowd. This includes CV adaptations for each role.
The fundamental principles of targeting your CV:
- Align your skill descriptions to those requested within the job specification
- Use similar terminology, this will strike engagement and trigger a connection
- If you do not possess the exact experience, ensure you demonstrate desire to learn
- Focus on relevancy – if you are tight for space, remove anything that has not been requested
General Tips & Tricks
Think of your CV as a sales brochure. Your sole purpose at this point is to get to the interview table, everything else can follow.
Your CV should be immaculate in its presentation, easy to follow and contain a crystal clear and concise description of yourself in simple relevant language.
Consider the following:
- Keep everything to a minimum – white space on your CV will make it easy to read and use bullet points where appropriate.
- Your CV should be no more than two pages
- Your education, skills and experience should illuminate your CV and mirror your suitability for the job.
- You have 10-15 seconds to impress and engage the reader – be precise, concise and entice.
- Short snappy sentences are easy to read and grab attention.
- If you are recently out of college or university, it could be worth emphasising on your results, team work, volunteering, extra curricular activities, awards etc.
The most common attributes which employers look for are:
- Ability to learn new skills and adaptable to change
- Capability to work under pressure and communicate effectively
- Reliable, trustworthy and a team player but can act on own initiative
- Fit into the company’s culture and maintain a positive attitude
How to Structure your CV
- Opening Statement/Personal Profile
- Work History
- Educational Background
Opening Statement/Personal Profile
The personal profile section of your CV defines your motivations. You are telling the employer why you are the best person for the job and what drives your ambition. Prioritise your information so that the most important information comes first and not trivia about where you live, how old you are and what schools you went to.
Your work history should be clear and concise, detailing your present job role, with objectives and tasks, using similar terminology to that within the job advertisement.
Achievements added on to the work history as part of each job description are a real positive, particularly when you show obvious value to the employer. Use examples that are clearly related to the new job application. For example, if you have worked in a shop:
- Opened a record number of store cards, 70% above my target
- Display all roles in chronological order, with the most recent detailed first.
- Job titles and company names are usually subtitles (if you’ve worked for a company that’s not widely known, it’s useful to provide what the brand specialises in e.g. Marketing Executive, Premiere People, Recruitment Consultancy).
- Add more detail into the strongest, most relevant roles.
- Take ownership and use words such as determined, implemented, created, devised, co-ordinated and conceived.
- Include figures, targets and numbers where possible.
The education section summarises your educational background. However, there is also an opportunity to highlight any additional achievements, such as an example of leadership, team work, being a prefect or simply proactive activities whilst studying.
Skills/Hobbies and achievements
Skills are often keywords in job applications which describe the attributes needed for the role, for example IT proficiency or teamwork. Sometimes these skills are not relevant to your education or current role, but you do boast these skills. Think laterally about your personal activities, for example
- Confident using Microsoft excel, work, powerpoint and publisher
- Completed certified Adobe Illustrator course
Hobbies and achievements:
- Netball captain, working with a team to successfully win 8 tournaments in 2 years.
- Member of the yearbook committee – designing pages and organising/collecting photos from students across the year.