Writing Your CV
So many people ask me for help with writing their CV. I help them, of course, but I also like to give them the tools for life, because a common mistake is that it’s highly unlikely that somebody is going to write their CV only once… it needs to be tailored to each job you apply for. Writing a good CV, one which makes you stand out from the crowd, is really important. Employers receive dozens of CVs every week and many will spend only a few moments scanning each one before deciding whether or not they want to see the person who wrote it. Here are a few simple tips to help you write that killer CV.
Use a template
There are lots of places online which offer free CV template downloads, so make use of them. Using a template will mean that you won’t need to worry too much about the layout, as it will look professional, enabling you to concentrate on that all important content instead.
Keep it short and snappy
Most employers spend just a few moments scanning each CV they receive, so make sure you tell them what they need to know and cut out the waffle. They don’t want your life story, just high-level information about your skills, qualifications and experience. You can provide further detail and expand on your CV in interview.
Highlight your skills and achievements
Highlight your key skills and achievements within each role you have held, but remember to tailor your CV to the job you are applying for. Research the company and use the job description to work out which skills you should point out to them and how they will apply to the role in question.
Use a personal statement
Your CV should do a good job of spelling out your skills and experience, but you should also use a short personal statement to explain why you are the best person for the job. This will help to make your application stand out from all the others.
Use numbers Backing your achievements up with numbers makes selling yourself much easier. Being responsible for increasing sales to £1m with six months, or for increasing production by 60% in the past year, sounds much better than simply saying you have ‘increased sales’ or ‘increased production’.
It’s hard to believe, but I still receive many CVs that have no dates of employment or time in education. This is a crucial part of any CV, because it gives the employer a timeline of your career history and indicates the amount of experience you may have in the areas they are looking for. So, make sure you include accurate dates on your CV, which tally with your social media… for example, if your experience is indicated on LinkedIn, the same dates and information must be included in your CV. Any inconsistencies may harm your chances of being offered an interview.
Don’t leave gaps
Unexplained gaps in your employment history will stick out like a sore thumb, so make sure you provide enough information to explain them, as employers appreciate honesty. Even if you’ve been out of work, you can put a positive spin on it – did you do undertake any training or voluntary work, or take time out to look after your family? If so, talk about the additional skills and experience you picked up.
Keep it current
Try to keep your CV as up-to-date as possible. Every time something happens in your career, you should update your CV so you don’t forget it later. And don’t forget to update your social media (LinkedIn profile etc) too.
Don’t tell lies – or embellish the truth – on your CV or in interview. All good employers will check your background and references and if it comes to light that you’ve been less than honest, it can get you into a lot of trouble.
Make it SEO-friendly
If your CV is online so recruiters can find you, keywords are important. Job titles and key skills will help a search engine pick out your CV. If you work in accountancy, for example, use words like treasury, tax, bookkeeping and compliance. A quick search of your job title online will help you discover the most commonly-used keywords people use when searching for it.
You may have written the most-compelling, tailor-made CV possible, but all your hard work can be undone by bad spelling and grammar, so remember to give it a final proofread before you submit it. Use a spellchecker and have someone else check it over if needs be. And remember to check your font type and size for consistency.
I look forward to receiving your curriculum vitae tailored of course to the role you are applying for.