“Always remember, less is more…”
The ideal CV is one that is easily readable and clearly navigates down the page in the correct order. A potential employer has, on average, about 1 – 2 minutes to look through your entire career and gather all the vital information they need to decide your future.
Therefore a clear and concise summary of your expertise will always mean a much better chance of that all important interview opportunity
WHY TAKE ADVICE FROM US?
Over the years, we’ve processed thousands of CVs and in our time, seen the good, the bad and the very ugly. So from our experience, we’ve created this guide to help you ensure your CV makes the grade, giving you the best chance to get through to the next stage.
Whether you’re applying for a job, these tips will not just help create a good CV document, they may well help you further your whole career.
A CV is NOT a list of everything you have ever done. It is a marketing document.
Your mission is to create a CV that allows an employer, after a quick 20 second scan, to pick out clear evidence that you have the skills, experience and the competencies they are looking for.
HOW TO WRITE A SUCCESSFUL CV
TEN TOP TIPS TO KEEP YOU AHEAD OF THE GAME
Here are our ten top tips to make sure your CV achieves this.
1. GET THE BASICS RIGHT
Choose which sections you need in your CV, then decide on section titles and order. There are no official
rules on format but be sure to include these key sections:
- Personal and contact information;
- Personal Summary
- Education and qualifications;
- Work history and/or experience (chronologically ordered, most recent first);
- Effective technical skills summary;
- Own personal interests, achievements and hobbies;
2. IT’S NOT ALL ‘ME, ME, ME’
• CVs should be written exclusively in the third person. It might seem unnatural to write a document about yourself and yet never use either ‘I’ or ‘me’ but hiring managers and recruitment experts conclusively agree that this is the best practice.
3. PRESENTATION AND APPEARANCE
The simple fact is that if your CV looks sloppy then the employer will deduce that you probably are too.
Presentation is everything:
- Make your CV easy to read. Use the formatting tools available such as bold, italics, bullet points etc. tocreate a good-looking document. This is particularly important if you’re applying for an IT role. If you can’t demonstrate your mastery of Microsoft Word, one of the world’s most widely-used IT applications,
that’s not a good sign.
- This applies to blank pages at the end of your CV too. Stray pages will again highlight your lack of IT skills.
- Double or triple check spelling and grammar and ask someone else to check this too.Many employers will regard even one error as an indication of poor motivation for the job, and reject youon this basis. A slapdash approach will indicate a slapdash attitude.
- Always remember the “CV hotspot” (the upper middle area of the first page is where the recruiter’s eyewill naturally fall). Make sure you include your most important information there.
- Please remember, “quirky” email addresses are unlikely to be taken seriously.
4. KEEP IT CONCISE
- A good CV is clear, concise and makes every point necessary without waffling. You don’t need pages and pages of paper – just keep things short and sweet. Employers receive dozens of CVs all the time, so it’s unlikely they’ll initially read each one cover-to-cover anyway.
- A CV is meant to reassure an employer that there is enough evidence to indicate a potential match to the role. However, it doesn’t need to be ‘War and Peace’, so keep it snappy.
5. SET THE SCENE
- You need to paint a picture for your reader of your past experience. Make sure you put your previous roles into context: What does the company you worked for do? Where is it located? What is its user base? etc. (Remember, point 4 ‘keeping it concise’ still applies!)
- ‘Setting the scene’ also applies to the specific IT environment you were working in. If you were working on the Service Desk for example: How many contacts did the Service Desk handle and how big was the team? Were there any key Service Desk performance statistics such as first time fix rates? Which specific technologies did you support?
6. FOCUS ON YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
• For every past role, especially the more recent and relevant ones, you must continue to set the scene (see point 5), by explaining your role and responsibilities. Keep it concise and then as quickly as you can, move on to what you have achieved in that role – arguably the most important part of your CV.
- You need to tell the reader what you have achieved throughout your career; not the company, not theteam, but you. It should be prescriptive, not just descriptive. Even if you’re fairly junior, you must still show an effort to articulate this, perhaps by explaining the experience you’ve gained and various examples where you took an initiative and delivered a result. Where possible, achievements need to be quantified.
- Every employer wants to take on someone they think can help improve their business or department. If you can’t explain what you have achieved at other companies, they’re not going to be filled with confidence that you can add value to theirs.
7. PLAYING THE SEARCH GAME
- These days many employers will use CV databases to find candidates by conducting a ‘Boolean’ search on certain key words. Therefore, to increase your chances of being found, it’s important to include these key words in your CV (e.g. specific technologies and qualifications). However, avoid simply
cramming these ‘searchable’ terms into one long unstructured list. This may increase the chances of your CV being discovered, but it will devalue it and mean you may be disregarded for a rolejust as quickly as you were found.
- Under the ‘Technical Skills’ section of your CV, don’t forget to mention key skills that can help you tostand out from the crowd, but again make sure there is some context around this, not just a long list.
8. MAKE IT SPECIAL
- The clues to what an employer is looking for are in the job description, so read the details from start to finish. Take notes and create bullet points, identifying everything you can satisfy and the bits you can’t.
- Every CV you send to a potential employee should be tailored to 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 and re-order the details so that they’re relevant.
- To increase your chances even further, you can include a cover letter. Your potential employer will recognise the effort you’ve made and appreciate that you’ve taken the time to address them personally. (And haven’t just spammed a number of people with the same message.)
9. KEEP THINGS INTERESTING
- Under ‘Interests’, highlight the things that showcase skills you’ve gained and employers look for. Describe examples of positions of responsibility, working in a team or anything that shows you can use your initiative. For example, if you ran your university’s newspaper or if you started a football team
which became a success.
- Include anything that shows how diverse, interested and skilled you are. Don’t include passive interests like watching TV or solitary hobbies that can be perceived as you lacking in people skills.
10. KEEP IT UP TO DATE!
• 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 worked on a new project, make sure they’re on there. Potential employers are always impressed with candidates who go the extra mile to boost their skills and experience and are much less impressed by an out of date CV.
Look at your CV as if you were the potential employer.
After a quick scan…
Does it look good?
Is it easy to read?
Can you pick out evidence for each of the job requirements?
Is it easy to read…
Is there about the same amount of text on each page?
Have you avoided large chunks of text?
Have you used formatting tools consistently? – (E.g. bold, italics, capitals and spacing).
Have you given it to someone else to read?
Have you put your experience into context and ‘set the scene’?
Have you mentioned key industry terms and skills in context?
Have you told the reader what you have achieved?
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