I know have written about this before but I don’t think you can say it too many times – your CV has to sell you!
If you’re looking for a new job you have to write a CV and when you’re writing a CV it has to be good enough to get you in front of prospective new employers. So far so obvious BUT a lot of people are still making huge mistakes when it comes to writing a CV that will get read in the first place.
DO – Start with a profile of your main skills and achievements showing what you can do for your next employer. Keep it brief, keep them wanting more! Without a summary of your skills the hirer needs to read your whole CV and pick out the skills themselves and if they have two hundred CVs for one position and only need to find ten good candidates then they may not have time to read your whole CV. Make sure yours gets chosen by showing clearly you have the skills required. Use a three to four selling statement summing up your career background, areas of expertise, key skills and motivations
DON’T put your education, exam results and schools, University etc., at the beginning of your CV (unless you have just graduated), keep it until the end. Employers are far more interested in your work experience and career history.
DO put your work history in reverse chronological order (i.e. start with your current or last job). As we’ve said before most employers and recruiters will skim read your CV so they want to know what you are doing now not 20 years ago.
DO avoid typos, spelling mistakes, slang and abbreviations – These show that the application was done in a rush.
DON’T use abbreviations and too much technical jargon as your CV may be read by a recruiter who may not be familiar with them and please don’t use text speak. “i wud lk 2 apli 4 this jb” will get your CV straight into the reject folder. Check your CV and get someone else to check it before sending it to ensure there are no typing or spelling errors.
DON’T Write lots but say nothing – If recruiters or hiring manager have to concentrate too hard to find relevant information on your CV, they won’t read it! Grab their attention with bullet points rather than long sentences. Two pages of A4 are more than enough to persuade people that you’re worth contacting for an interview! According to researchers, the 10 top words/phrases to use in a CV are: achievement, active, developed, evidence, experience, impact, individual, involved, planning and transferable skills.
DON’T Apply to positions you are not qualified for – Recruiters and hiring managers don’t have time to sort through hundreds of CVs that are in no way a match for the requirements they are trying to fill. If you are interested in a company but they don’t have a relevant position at present you could write in your cover letter ‘please accept the attached CV in anticipation of future, suitable opportunities’ but it’s better to target your market effectively and ensure you are qualified for the job vacancy.
DO include achievements – This is the section that is missed out most on CVs. Your CV is about you and your results and not about the jobs you did. Highlight specific achievements that are relevant to the job. Think of new procedures, time saving activities, successful campaigns, increased sales and money saved and made. This demonstrates to employers that you are commercially focused and results driven. Although not all roles have quantifiable key performance indicators, think of the impact you have had on the businesses you previously worked for and TELL a prospective new employer about these on your CV.
DO include accurate dates – A CV that does not include dates especially for long periods of time sends “red flags” to the recruiter or hiring manager that you’re trying to hide something. If you have gaps, explain them in your cover letter or your CV.
DON’T – Be vague and clichéd – Vague statements that could apply to anyone e.g. ‘seeking a challenging position in a professional environment’ tell the reader nothing. If you have worded your achievements well, clichés such as ‘good communicator’ and ‘team player’ are not needed because it will be evident from your experience that you already have these skills.
DO – tailor your CV to a specific role – Do not send your CV to as many companies as possible in the hope that you will increase your chances of getting an interview. Each employer is looking for a CV and cover letter that applies to their role and as all roles are different, you should make small adaptations so that it matches their specific requirements. Show that you understand what it is they want you to do.
DON’T – use ‘I’ too much – There’s nothing worse than reading a CV that’s full of ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that’. Using action verbs to start sentences is a good way to overcome this e.g. achieved, organized or developed.
DO – Pay attention to the layout of your CV. Recruiters only look at CVs for a few seconds before deciding whether to continue reading, so clarity of information is important. Contact details should always be clearly visible at the top of your CV. Choose a plain font like Arial which is easy on the eye.
AND finally good luck with your job search.