Career Tools - Top 10 CV Writing Tips
Courtesy of Elizabeth Bacchus, The Successful CV Writing Company
1. One size does not fit all! Don't use exactly the same CV for each job you apply for. Tailor-make your CV to each role, carefully checking the job and person specification in the advertisement. What does the job description ask for and are you able to clearly demonstrate that you meet these requirements?
2. You only have 30-60 seconds to attract the recruiter's attention: You can do this by creating a well written profile that not only illustrates your core experience, but also your transferrable skills to the role you are applying for. Ask someone you trust to read over your profile; in their opinion does your profile effectively represent you?
3. If you are making a complete career change write down the following list:
- Things you are good at
Things you love to do
Things someone will pay you to do
- Things you are good at
Then collate this information to develop a focus in your CV where all these areas can be applied to within a sector you can be really passionate about.
4. Go over your previous roles identifying key achievements: Some examples are detailed below but you will be able to think of areas that specifically apply to your own career:
- a) Reaching and exceeding targets set
- b) Implementing systems and processes that improved performance and sales
- c) Winning industry or company awards
- d) Promotion or acting up positions
- e) Winning new clients
- f) Successful completion of projects, perhaps in record time
- g) Loyalty and commitment through difficult times within an organisation
- h) Supporting and motivating colleagues and team members
- i) Training and development of new recruits
- j) Problem solving - give examples
- k) Going the extra mile - give examples
5. Avoid Gimmicks! Of course you want to stand out from the pile of other applicants but as a rule recruiters dislike gimmicks like, fancy formatting, photos, coloured paper etc. Given many companies' hiring procedures you are more likely to be instantly rejected if you do include a photograph.
6. Formatting your CV: Your CV should be printed on A4 sheets, if you are posting your CV rather than emailing it, use good quality paper like Conqueror 80-100gsm in brilliant white. Use a plain font like Ariel, Trebuchet or Times Roman in a 10 or 11 size font. So that the format of your CV is not lost if a recruiter has a older or newer version of word, save as an rtf file or pdf.
7. Don't overdo the length of your CV: No more than 3 pages is an acceptable length, remember you are aiming to grab the attention of the recruiter. This doesn't mean you should cram in as much information as possible to fit it onto 3 pages. Review your CV to ensure you only have core information in it; a recruiter doesn't want to see every duty listed as part of each job.
8. Key words: Having well selected key words in your CV not only catches the recruiter's attention, but is also an effective way to ensure your CV is picked up by the automated systems that recruiters and online job sites commonly use. Research the key words for your industry sector including those in your profile, key achievements and duties.
9. Proof read: There is no excuse for spelling or grammatical errors with spell check and thesaurus that are available on all the main word processing programmes today. After finishing your CV read it out loud; does it naturally flow for the reader? Make sure sentences are not too long. Create sentences that have impact and make a statement. If possible get someone else to read it for you.
10. Cover letter: Finally, your cover letter is the doorway to a recruiter wanting to read your CV. If possible address it to a named person, signing off with 'yours sincerely' to a named individual or 'yours faithfully' to an unnamed addressee. Include some of your successes in your cover letter as bullet points - again this will grab the recruiter's attention.
Author, Elizabeth Bacchus is a leading Career Coach, Change Management Consultant and founder of The Successful CV Company - providing affordable, interview winning CV's and dynamic cover letter development for candidates at all stages of their career.