One of the most common questions I’m asked in this job is ‘how do I create the perfect cv’. It’s a tricky question to answer and you’ll likely hear many differing views depending on who you ask.
Often the importance of a good looking CV is overlooked, it really can make a key difference in securing an interview for your top choice job.
Over the course of the last 11 years working in the industry, I’ve seen my fair share of fantastic CV’s which have proven to be real door opener to jobs as well and those that maybe need a little TLC.
Most employers will spend on average just 8 seconds scanning your CV before deciding whether it fits in the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ pile. What can you do to stand out from the rest and give yourself the best chance of making that great first impression?
Below I have detailed some key tips which I hope will be of help when deciding on how to structure your CV to best sell yourself to prospective employers.
- Before you start think carefully – What are you looking to achieve with your CV? Are you simply looking to move into a similar job within the same sector/industry? Are you looking for a change of direction? Once you identify this, shaping the CV will be much easier. I’m really not a fan of a generic one size fits all approaches to writing a CV. Often, this can prove ineffective, forgettable and ultimately a waste of time.
- Follow a structure – Keep it consistent! Name, contact details (Include a link to your LinkedIn profile!). Education and any additional qualifications. Employment history (keep this concise). I often receive many CV’s written like job specs, far too much information which is often unnecessary. Job title, dates of employment, a couple of lines on the job role and some notable key achievements. Keep it concise – With employers spending seconds rather than minutes reading your CV it’s crucial to keep it simple yet releavnt. Keep it punchy and to the point. Feel free to add some info on interests and hobbies!
- Don’t leave gaps – I often receive CV’s with significant time periods omitted, ranging from months to sometimes years. This is always a major red flag for a potential employer so please make sure you have accounted for all periods. Whether you have been travelling or working in a job which holds little if any relevance to your future career path, it’s all important.
- Personal statement – A personal statement is your chance to summarise why you are right for the role. It should touch on your key skills and personal attributes without repeating on other sections of your CV. Keep your profile concise, engaging and relatively short.
- How long should your CV be? This is a hotly debated issue and there are many conflicting viewpoints. I really don’t subscribe to a set number but it is imperative the CV doesn’t stretch for pages and pages. If you are in the infancy of your career it’s far easier to restrict your CV to a page or two, much tougher if your experience spans 10 years +. My best advice here is keep your CV relevant, concise and engaging. Don’t feel the need to pad out two pages if you’ve only had one job and if your experience is vast try to keep your CV accurate.
- Interests/ Hobbies – You won’t often read this but I place great importance on this part of a CV. I often find this area is undervalued and widely viewed as not necessary. Personally, I think it’s arguably one of the most important parts of your CV. It’s the only area on your CV which really allows you to communicate your personality to any degree. We all know how important culture fit is for a business, this is your chance to give a potential employer a brief insight into what makes you tick outside of work.
- Check for grammatical errors and font – I’m often really surprised with the level of CV’s I receive littered with spelling errors or various font issues. Your CV is your introduction to a potential employer, you’ll never get a second chance to make that first impression. Whilst a CV won’t single handily win you a job, I can assure you it will lose you one. Check through your final version several times ensuring there are no grammatical mistakes and the font used is consistent throughout.
- Make your CV easy on the eye- CV’s are more than just a document detailing your work history, it’s a sales pitch to a prospective employer. Imagine you’re a hiring manager, critique your own CV. Does your CV stand out, is it memorable? Make it personal to you!
Hopefully if you follow the advice above you’ll create that perfect looking CV and be well on your way to securing your top choice job. If you’re looking for a new opportunity it would be great to hear from you, please feel free to get in touch for any help/advice.
Wishing you the very best with your job search!