Your CV is the very first representation of you within the job market - and first impressions last.
It is essential that you give the best description of yourself, your experience, and your attributes.
What makes a great CV:
The CV that immediately catches the attention of a recruiter / hiring manager and makes them want to continue reading is always the most successful. The unfortunate reality of jobseeking is that not every recruiting manager will want to read every single word in your CV, therefore it is vital that it is eye-catching and that the most important detail stands out.
Highlighting critical information that will sell yourself best early in your CV, is an effective way to grab the immediate attention of the person reading it. All information is useful to paint a picture of you and what you have to offer, but give yourself the best possible start by engaging the recruiter from the very first word.
Presentation is the first step in getting your CV noticed. If it looks like a dissertation or is messy, you are putting yourself at a huge disadvantage from the outset. If your CV looks tidy and organised, it gives the impression that you are the same. There are a few simple points that will help you create the CV that someone wants to read:
- Be concise - get to the points that matter quickly. Be descriptive but succinct. Condense the number of pages. 2-4 is fine at any level - trust the experts!
- Be structured. Follow a tried & tested format while adding your own individuality.
- No flashy typefaces or fonts. Yes, they will catch the eye of the recruiter but for the wrong reason.
- Don't leave big gaps but don't try squeeze as much as you can in, either. Strike a balance.
Tailor your CV:
Keep a flexible attitude towards the detail in your CV and make sure you tailor it for each application. The purpose of tailoring CV's is not to mislead the recruiter - only ever include information that is true and that you can verify - but it's impossible to include all your experience in your CV while heeding the advice above.
When you see a role that interests you, look at the key criteria and link relevant experience you have. In almost every case, some details are more important than others so make sure your CV is targeted to the role you are going for.
Personal Profile / Summary:
Give a well-worded, to-the-point, summary that describes you and your motivations. The summary should be short & sweet and highlight your key attributes, painting a favourable picture of you and your strengths. Use the opportunity - in no more than a few lines - to act as a short 'sales-pitch' of the qualities you will bring to your new employer.
The volume of CV's that fail to highlight a candidate's achievements never ceases to amaze a recruiter. Make sure that the key successes you have had in your career that set you apart are clearly visible. You can include an Achievements section early in the CV, or during your Work Experience - where you prefer is up to you, but just make sure it's there.
The most important part of the CV. Make sure your history is chronological in reverse - start with your most recent role first. Make sure you describe the position itself, responsibilities, and your successes in the role. As always, bring the most important detail to the forefront.
Education & Qualifications:
If you are an academic achiever, treat this section like the rest - highlight all qualifications and grades regardless of how far back they go. It is important to always include something here, even if just the number of grades you achieved. Education is important but it isn't the be-all-and-end-all. You can also include any other qualifications you have achieved in life.
Hobbies & Interests:
Of less importance generally but a good opportunity for you to show your personal side.
Feel free to include full contact details of 2 referees, or, if you prefer, simply note that they are 'available on request'.