Your CV – Curriculum Vitae – ‘the course of your life’. This document is your personal marketing document and is used to sell yourself to your prospective employer. It should tell them about you, your professional history, skills, abilities and achievements. It should highlight why you are the best candidate for the job.
I have spoken to many people that have sent the same CV off to scores of companies and agencies for their applications. This is a wasted effort. Would you go to a theatre and ask every single person in the stalls out on a date? That is effectively what you are doing when you send your CV out like that.
What should you include?
Every single job application that you make should be supported with a CV specific to the advertised role, attached to a supporting letter. It should, obviously, include your details – name, address, numbers and email so that employers can contact you.
It should include a personal statement. This is just a paragraph that captures attention. Makes them want to know more. Don’t put too much into here, just your main skill and relate it to the post in order to show the hirer that you meet their criteria. This is another reason why the CV should be specific to the role that you are applying for. A generic CV will not achieve this.
List your most recent position first and include dates to and from. Use bullet points where possible to highlight your responsibilities and achievements in the role so that the person scanning can match your experience with the job description.
Again, this should be in chronological or reverse date order. And include details or academic and professional qualifications with grades achieved.
Whether you realise it or not, you have picked up many skills over the years. Include anything that is relevant, including any IT packages or programmes that you have used, as well as foreign language skills. If you use skills like ‘communications’ or project management’ skills, you should back them up with some examples.
Hobbies and interests.
This is optional as nowadays is only used to fill space and give the interviewer a more rounded view of you as a person.
You should not really place this information onto a CV A simple statement like references available upon request’ will do.
The aim is not to get the job itself but to secure an interview. You aren’t writing the CV for yourself! It is for the person reading it, so put yourself in their shoes. Keep it short, to the point and interesting. It should be noted that, generally, a hiring manager will take just 20-30 seconds to scan your CV so it absolutely must stand out if you want to be in with a chance of securing an interview.
Any interviewer or hiring manager will usually look at 4-6 people per post. If you imagine that there could be up to 100 people applying for the job, you will see why following this advice will increase your chances of presenting your application in a clear, concise and persuasive way.
Phrases and words from the job advert and person specification of the advertised job should be included in the CV and covering letter.
Most companies and agencies use scanning software so this is yet another reason why the CV must be specific to the role that you are applying for.
Watch out for…
- Don’t be tempted to jazz up your CV with colours and images.
- Do not write long paragraphs
- Be careful using bold type. It can help but don’t overdo it.
- Never underline words.
- Use Ariel or Times New Roman typefaces/fonts and no smaller that 11pt.
- Never. Ever use text speak!
Always support your application with a cover letter. Dependent on who is advertising the post, you should make sure that the cover letter is addressed to and has the hiring managers name on it. If you cannot find the name, use a cover letter explaining why it is impersonal.
You should, typically wait 7-10 days to hear a response. If you haven’t and you are keen on this role, you should consider sending a follow-up application with a follow-up cover letter and your CV.
Check all of your documents for spelling or grammatical errors. This is your responsibility and is one of the first things that employers will pick up on to weed out weaker candidates.
Even if the role doesn’t call for a high level of literacy, spelling errors scream ‘lack of care’.
Don’t put your faith spell checker as it is often in US settings. Use a dictionary if you aren’t sure or ask someone. If the job is that important to you, consider using a CV professional checker who can help you to improve it.