Top 10 tips for a great CV
In last weeks article we talked about where to look for work, this week we are looking at how you can improve your CV and bag yourself an interview.
- Highlight your strengths…
This might sound like a no-brainer, but really put your strengths front and centre on your CV, especially if applying for a specific job. For example, if your educational results were not fantastic, but you have a lot of experience, then put your work history first on your CV, ahead of educational background.
- But don’t lie!
While selling yourself and highlighting your strengths, skills and experience is crucial for a CV, outright lying or bending the truth about experience or past role responsibilities is a big no go. Not only could it land you in trouble if the potential employer rings a referee to enquire about the role, but it could also set you up for failure in the new job, should you get it, when skills you have professed to have are needed.
- Formatting, Formatting, Formatting
This is one of the most important (and sometime frustrating) things to get right with your CV, the first impression of your CV, and how presentable it is, could be the difference between your CV making it to the ‘review again’ pile instead of the ‘bin now’ pile. This is particularly true for roles that are likely to receive a high volume of applicants, and you get a very short space of time, a glance, to make it through the first cut. Stick to a clear, easy to read font, and black ink; make sure your contact information is clear and your sections are clearly broken apart, at the same time, avoid too much use of bold, italic and underlined font effects.
- Keep it brief
Also important is to keep your CV to the point, a covering letter is the place to really expand on all the reasons you are suitable for a role, and how you experience is relevant to the business and the role. It can be tempting when talking about your experience on a CV to go into great detail, but just list the key role responsibilities and skills developed; this also gives you something to expand on in an interview.
- Keep it up to date
Another crucial element of your CV is how up to date it is, this is especially true when you have had a few roles in a short space of time. However, it is also true when you have been in one role for a long time, as it is key to make sure that the new responsibilities and experience you keep gaining in your role are demonstrated on your CV.
- Don’t be afraid to add personality
Although your CV is a professional document, it is acceptable to list a brief amount of hobbies and interests, such as baking, mountain walking, reading, or dog training, this is especially true if they are relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Don’t ignore career gaps
There is nothing worse than large gaps in time on a CV, so if you have taken time out to have a family, or recover from an illness, for example, briefly put it on there, this way a potential employer will know that nothing untoward or more alarming was going on.
- Ask your referees first
At the risk of sounding repetitive, this is also crucial, this means not just asking someone when you first add them to your CV, but also warning them when you have interviewed for a job and it is likely that your referees will be contacted. This is not only polite, but also makes it much more likely that you will get a good reference, as they have time to think about what to say about you, which could be crucial.
- Specific job – specific CV
If you are handing out a CV at lots of different places, for example all of your local shops or restaurant, then a more generic CV is just fine. However, if you are applying for a specific job, make sure to tailor your CV to it, as you would a cover letter. This tip is also especially true if you have a person specification or job description for the role you are applying for, with these you can really (briefly) highlight relevant work experience and skills in your CV.
- Handing it in
This tip maybe isn’t to do with your CV specifically, but the way you hand it in is very important, always be polite, especially if handing in a speculative CV, not relating to a specific role on offer. This could be a potential employer’s first impression of you, so make it count! Furthermore, be polite to everyone you come in to contact with, you never know how friendly the receptionist may be with the boss, and how much their opinion may count.