Friday, September 22, 2017 - By Andy
5 top tips for creating a CV that gets to the point and demonstrates your skills, experience and achievements
1. Clear and simple layout
Employers typically look at a CV for less than 1 minute. A clear and simple layout means they can quickly find the information they need. A good structure is as follows but the headings can be changed to suit your circumstances / the situation:
i) Contact details
ii) Education (reverse chronological date order)
iii) Work experience (reverse chronological date order)
iv) Positions of responsibility/achievements/voluntary work - (reverse chronological date order) – this is usually related to extra-curricular activities such as clubs, societies, charity work. The title of this section can be changed to suit your situation. Think about some of the relevant skills you demonstrated
v) Hobbies and interest – this section gives the reader a rounded view of us as an individual and shows our willingness to get involved and commit to non-work/education based activities
vi) References – no need to include names and contact details unless you’ve been asked to do so. The phrase ‘References available upon request’ will be sufficient
2. Always demonstrate your skills, experience, and achievements
Your work experience should not read like a job description of tasks you were expected to do. You also need to include your achievements – were you promoted, given any awards, received comments of praise for customers, hit sales targets. What skills did you demonstrate that you know the employer is looking for? Teamwork, good communication, leadership of team or projects? If you did demonstrate any of these skills provide a little detail. Simply saying I am a dynamic team player who works well under pressure is not enough, examples are needed.
If you're starting out in life and have little work experience, talk about what you've done while in education, think about any clubs, societies and teams you've belonged to, any positions of responsibility you've assumed (such as captain or organiser) and the skills you demonstrated.
3. Be specific, not generic
As mentioned in point in point 2, give back up any claims with something specific. If you work well in a team give a specific (but very brief) example. Set the scene, explain what you did and show the outcome of your efforts (for example the team met the project deadline within budget and the event was attended by over 100 people OR I helped coordinate the group project by compiling all our individual contributions and creating the presentation made to to the rest of class, for which we achieved an A grade).
4. Tailor it
If you are applying for a specific job make sure your CV reflects the skills and achievements the job description asks for. If the CV is sent speculatively then look into the company and type of role/s you are interested in, again ensure to reflect the skills that they are likely to be looking for. For example, well organised, a good team player, strong customer service skills, experience using Microsoft Office packages.
Check, check and check again. If you have time leave it overnight and check the next day. Use the spell checker on your computer but beware, auto spell checkers can miss words that are spelt correctly but have a different meaning to that intended (‘do’ instead of ‘to’ for example). Poor spelling, grammar and carelessness is a big reason CV’s can be rejected so take care.
And finally, a few do’s and don’ts:
- Use bullet points in all sections apart from perhaps hobbies and interests (this makes it easier for employers to read)
- Keep your CV current and up to date
- Don’t include a photo of yourself unless specifically asked to (please note this is for applying in the UK, in some countries it is standard practice to include a photo so make sure you check if sending a CV to a non UK country)
- Don’t make it too long, employers often receive lots of CVs and may not have time to read many pages (2 pages is generally accepted as a good length)