Sometimes it can be quite exciting when you decide to move  job or you want try your luck in a new industry or skills area.  The idea is good, but then the dread of writing or updating your CV starts to creep in and it becomes a painful chore.

Even as a seasoned Recruiter, I still find the whole CV writing thing a bit of a palaver, in fact it is even more frustrating as I’m sure I should inherently know how to do it!  Well the good news is that even although I may not be able to sit down and conjure up a masterpiece myself, I can certainly provide you with some tips on how to impress the final viewer and at least get to the next stage!

Before you start, be the rockstar you really are and chuck a few common misconceptions out the window.

Start with the old classic: the 2 page CV!  Recruiters certainly don’t have the time to read through pages and pages, in fact, you’re lucky if they spend more than a minute scanning it in the first instance.  But, you still need to get down the full extent of your experience.  My own CV is about 4 pages long at present and I struggle to get it any shorter without losing important detail.  What is most important is the content and how this is placed within the CV.

When I’m reviewing CV’s, I always look at where they live first to ensure its within reasonable commuting distance to the place of work.  If you are actually considering relocating for the role, I’d recommend you mention that in your opening statement on the CV and in a covering letter.

The next  to go are the utterly dull and badly formatted ‘CV Templates’.  I admit, there are some decent ones out there, but there are so many goddamn awful ones.  Microsoft Word templates are still the safest bet, but go for something contemporary and simple.  All too often do they get skewed and content gets lost.  When I open one of these, I don’t waste my time trying to decipher it as I most likely have 100 other CVs to get through that morning!  If you do opt to use a template, I’d suggest emailing a friend to check how it will look before sending it in to apply for a role.

So, now we are ready to get started:

There is much confusion about what order things should be placed, some say put your Education first, others say Experience, this depends on where you are in your career:  if you are a recent graduate, then it’s probably best to put your Education and Achievements first as this is what employers will be looking for, however, if you are an experienced professional, you should put your most recent role first and work backwards from there.  This is very important as Recruiters will be scanning your CV to see if your recent experience is relevant to the role.  For example, if you are applying for a Sales position, but your last role in Sales was in 1990, you’re probably not going to get a look in unless it is an entry level role as your skills will be deemed ‘out of date’.

Next, recruiters will be looking at your previous job titles and how relevant these are to the role you have applied for.  Make sure you state this clearly and don’t try to oversell yourself by giving yourself a more senior or exciting job title – remember they will be checking references if you get to the final stage and you don’t want to fall on your face at the final hurdle!

It is vital that you highlight your skills most relevant to the job description, even if you have strong skills in other areas.  Recruiters are trained to match not interpret!  The best way to format this is in bullet points and put them in order of importance for the role you are applying for.  You don’t need much more detail than this and if you get it right, the Recruiter will be calling you to ask for further detail – you are simply looking to get their interest at this stage.  It may also be worth noting any achievements below your responsibilities and skills, but only do this if they are true and impressive.  I’ve seen people put their sales revenue on there, but when I’ve investigated further it has shown up that they were miles of target and all they have managed to achieve is mistrust from the Recruiter.

After detailing your previous roles, responsibilities and achievements, you may want to include any relevant professional qualifications and then of course any University or college qualifications.

Finally, highlight any hobbies and interests:  although these are not relevant to the role, they may indicate what type of person you are and may prompt questions to break the ice at an interview.  another thing to add here is whether you have a driving license as this may be important for the role you are applying for, even if it is not specified in the job advert.

You must check all contact information before sending.  Key information that absolutely must be on a CV are your name, location, telephone number and email address.  Generally, job applications are now managed online and processed through sophisticated Talent Management systems which need the basic info. above for you to be entered in to the process.  Postal CVs are now very rarely accepted as Recruiters have no where to store or process them!  Read application instructions very carefully and ensure you follow them properly or you may get sidelined despite being perfect for that role.

Most organisations now have dedicated people to manage their recruitment or outsource to an agency, either way, you must get past the first hurdle if you want to get an interview. Remember, you need to impress them and unfortunately there are no short cuts.  Make sure you make yourself available to discuss the role, return their calls and emails, turn up to appointments/ interviews on time and let them know if you have found another role or are no longer interested as you never know when you may need their help again and you don’t want any black marks against you – especially not in today’s challenging job market.

Hope this helps and best of luck nailing your perfect job!

More on the topic:

 Microsoft CV Templates

…and if you really want to stand out, these are pretty cool:

13 Insanely Cool CVs That Landed Interviews At Google & Other Top Jobs

45 Creative Resumes to Seize Attention


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