You’ve seen your dream job advertised and you’re excited about applying, but you last updated your CV two years ago. How can you set yourself apart from the tens, possibly hundreds, of CVs that the recruiter will receive?
We’ve put together some simple guidelines to help you write a CV.
The first thing to think about when writing or updating your CV is that you might only have a matter of seconds to make an impression. Consider whether you want to use an unconventional layout to make your CV more eye-catching, or whether rearranging the items so that most important parts are easily seen by the reader.
Highlight key information so that it’s as noticeable as possible. For instance, put in bold the words detailing specific skills that you feel are going to be most appealing to the person reading.
Next, keep the information relevant to the position you are applying for and relevant to you. Take time to check it thoroughly and cull any information that does not directly relate to the role, or may not portray you in the best possible light. Avoid generic words and phrases such as “I am hardworking, adaptable, reliable and innovative”. These types of phrases will appear on the vast majority of CVs and they don’t differentiate you from your competitor job applicants.
It’s also a good idea to check your LinkedIn profile for any relevant information that may be missing from your CV and ensure your CV and LinkedIn information corroborate.
It’s advisable to provide information rather than have an employment gap. If you were unemployed for a while or took time off due to an illness, document it. If you can, highlight positive traits that you learned or challenges you overcame during the time.
Think carefully about layout and structure. Your CV should look unfussy and easy on the eye. Be sure to list your work history in chronological order, starting with your current or most recent, working in reverse. Avoid bright colours and elaborate fonts – make sure it looks professional, sophisticated and clean.
Errors in grammar and spelling are the single biggest thing that will kill a reader’s interest in your CV. You could have the best laid out CV, detailing the best experience but this could all be overlooked if it contains spelling mistakes or typing errors. Always use a spellchecker. Take your time when you proofread it and then proofread it again. It’s wise to ask a friend or relative to look it over, as a fresh set of eyes often picks up errors that you don’t see.
Lastly, make sure your CV is prepared for each application. Don’t just create a “perfect” generic CV and send it out to every job. Just like you want to stand out from the other applicants, hirers want to see that you’ve taken the time to research the position, the company and understand their needs. Include relevant experience you’ve had in similar companies, environments, or roles, or why you are interested in working for the industry in which they operate.
Adapt the layout and language so it’s appropriate for the type of company and the role that you’re applying for – for example, if you’re applying for a role in accounts keep the layout straightforward and the contents mainly factual; if the role is more creative, use a layout that reflects your personality and style.
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