Your CV is the first point of contact with a potential employer. It is the first opportunity to sell yourself, to get yourself noticed and, above all, to make a memorable impression.
Think of your CV as an electronic handshake, if its weak, its going to be discarded. Our 15 helpful tips will act as a guideline for you to make sure your CV is noticed, and remembered!
- Have your CV prepared well in advance of spotting any job opportunities, and certainly well ahead of any closing date, so that it is not undertaken in a rush. This ensures that the basics will be there to build on, and you can tailor the CV for each specific opportunity without too much additional work.
- Spelling, Grammar, Clarity. It goes without saying that you must check your CV thoroughly before sending it to any potential employer. Better yet, get someone to check it for you. Mistakes will send your CV straight into the waste paper basket.
- Given that your CV needs to be tailored for each job opportunity, make sure you have done your research on the company or organisation you are applying to. There’s nothing worse than focusing on your people management skills, for instance, when the company in question is actually looking for someone to work on their own as a self-starter.
- Make your CV easy to read. Use a simple, font and keep it black. Creative industries may prefer a different format for your CV, but in general a mash of colour on the page distracts from what you have said about yourself.
- A profile, or brief personal statement at the beginning of your CV works well. Make it catchy, and brief (avoiding buzzwords and cliches – we’ve heard them all before). Be original, and let your passion, enthusiasm and creativity show for the industry your applying to.
- Short blocks of text work well, and bullet points are fine provided the list isn’t too long.
- Use the selection criteria for the job you are applying for, to align your skills and experience . Be specific, give examples of how you are the perfect fit for the role. Think of it like a quick quiz, how high can you score?
- NO LONGER than 2 pages of A4, and remember you don’t have to detail every qualification and piece of work experience – if you have a degree or higher, the grades you got for GCSE are probably not too important, so just list the number of passes and subjects.
- References at this stage aren’t essential and they will take up too much space – just say ‘references are available on request’ – recruiters won’t be needing references at the CV filtering stage.
- Remember that life experience can be just as relevant as job experience when it comes to many key skills – project management, budgeting, communication skills, for example, can be demonstrated in different ways – so be creative. This may also benefit you if you have little to no experience for the role you are applying for.
- Don’t forget to highlight professional qualifications and any relevant Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – what training have you undergone recently that shows that your skills are up to date? This is particularly important if you have been unemployed for a while and the employer is concerned that you could be out of touch in a fast-moving industry.
- Don’t be afraid to ask friends and colleagues what they think your strengths are – and if they have any other comments or advice on your CV.
- Finally, don’t think of your CV as set in stone. If you progress to the next stage, ask for feedback on your CV – what worked, what jumped out, what was irrelevant to the potential employer – and hone your CV accordingly. And do share your experiences with others – blogs and websites are a great community resource; if you give to others, they will give back to you.
Remember, your CV is about bringing you and your experience to life, so give examples wherever possible, to help the potential employer quickly build a picture of you.