. HOW TO WRITE A CV.
It’s that time of the week again (Career tips of course), and today I thought i’d share a career tips post focussed on writing a CV. For many final year students, now might be the time your starting to think about your post university career, and equally for those of us already working, it’s always good to have an up to date CV particularly if you’re looking for new roles or opportunities. So today, I thought i’d share my top tips for writing a CV, and those things which attract companies and will help you secure an interview. I’m clearly no recruitment expert, but i’ve obviously been working for a while myself, and frequently review CV’s and interview candidates for roles within my own team at work, so hopefully this experience will help me give some constructive & useful advice.
. SELL YOURSELF .
This may sound obvious, but your CV is the first opportunity a company or a recruiter has to get to know you, so make sure you make a good first impression. Use your CV to show off the best of you, not just you as an employee, but you as a person too. Use this page or two of A4 paper to bring to life the best of your skill set, your experience, your passions and your ability.
Be sure to detail your best accolades, those awards or achievements that set you apart from other candidates, and your experiences which make you the best person for the role you’re applying for. A company will be looking to higher you based on your ability but also on you as a person and how you fit the company and team ethos, so it’s always a good idea to bring out some personal achievements as well as just work. For example I was captain of the university netball team, I slalom ski race, and write an established style blog … these aren’t necessarily skills that directly aid my ability to do my job, but they do add another depth to my character and show a little bit about my personality too. So whilst they shouldn’t be the main feature, you should definitely make sure you show a little about yourself.
. TAILOR IT .
This is really important. You should not have just one generic CV that you send to every company, you should have a CV per job application. Every job you’re going for, every company you’re considering and every role you’re interviewing for will be different, and therefore your best skills and experience may differ per role. So make sure you tailor your CV based on this. Whilst you might be applying to multiple roles within one industry, there are still so many variables. The more tailored and specific to the role you can make your CV and your experience sound the better. After all a company is looking for someone to fill their role and their job spec, not just recruit anyone.
This means doing your research, understanding the job spec, the clients or projects you will be responsible for, understanding what the company are looking for in their potential candidate, and showing off your skills based on those attributes they’re looking for. This doesn’t mean lying to fit a role, it purely means focussing on different assets based on what shows off your ability best.
. GIVE EXAMPLES .
There’s no point simply listing a whole load of adjectives, in the hope that this truly sells you in and makes you appear wonderful / excellent / brilliant / capable (blah blah blah), these are just words, and mean nothing and could be attributed to any individual. For every description you give of yourself and your experience, back it up with an example. Proof. For example, I‘m extremely capable at managing a team of people and have excellent people skills. This is evident in my experience leading a team of 5 on the X account and my team winning ‘team of the year’ in 2014.
. DON’T LIE .
You’d hope this would go without saying, but obviously do not lie. There’s absolutely no point … firstly a company will want to meet you based on more than just one thing, they’ll invite you to an interview based on personality, passion, ambition, and not just achievements. If you didn’t get a first at university, who cares, you may have more personal skills than someone who did. There’s simply no point fabricating the truth to try and get your foot in the door, be honest but simply focus on your positives and your achievements rather than those things you don’t excel so much in. Don’t forget whatever you write in your CV may then be discussed in your interview, and the last thing you want is to get yourself tangled in a spider web of white lies.
. KEEP IT PUNCHY.
It’s more than likely that the person reviewing your CV is also reviewing 10 – 20 others. Trust me, it can be quite exhausting. So it’s really important to keep things punchy, precise, and concise. I personally believe a CV should be no more than two pages … given you should be tailoring your CV to the specific roles you are applying for you shouldn’t need an entire list of achievements, you should focus solely on those that showcase your suitability for the particular role you are applying for. If you’ve got 5 years industry experience, does the recruiter need to know that in School you studied X,Y,Z and won a prize for storytelling. Probably not. Show off your best, back it up, ensure it’s relevant (tailor it) and keep it punchy. The interview is your opportunity to really show off all your attributes, the CV is just a case of getting your foot in the door.
. BONUS TIP: PROOF READ .
Duh right? Well maybe not, triple check your CV before it goes to anyone. Check and re check your cover letter or email … does it detail the right names, the right company, is it the right version of your CV. The potential challenge with tailoring your CV per role is that you end up with multiple versions, so simply ensure you save them in a clear way so you know which CV needs to go to which employer.
Proof read, spell check, ask family, friends, colleagues to review it, provide feedback and challenge you on what you’ve detailed. This level of ‘proofing’ before your CV is sent out will truly ensure it’s 100% perfect. There’s nothing worse than noticing a spelling mistake too late, a typo or a missed point which would have been perfect to include.
If you’re going through a recruitment company, often they’ll help with this element of the process. But it’s always good to be vigilant yourself too!
So there you have it, 5 (well 6 really) tips for creating the perfect CV. Obviously CV requirements vary by industry, if you’re a designer or an architect the actual visual design of your CV probably becomes increasingly important, but for general CV’s these tips should help get you on the right track and give you some direction.
I’ll be doing a follow up post on interview tips next, so make sure you stay tuned!