Career Basics Lesson #5 - CVs
Your CV is an advert for you and your skills - it is not your life story. It should be a very carefully selected 'greatest hits' of yourexperience and skills arranged in a professional, orderly and logical format. It won't get you a job, but if correctly put together it could get your application progressed to the next level.
1. Size matters
Try not to go beyond two pages if you can possibly help it, but don't leave out vital information for the sake of length. A shorter document often takes more time to write than a long one, but the quality is invariably better. It will also be better received by the recruiter.
2. Looking good
Keep it professional. For example, don't use decorative or novelty fonts on your CV. It doesn't score you points and couldwell irritate the recipient. Stick to simple, professional fonts such as Times, Helvetica or Arial. Needless to say, it is essential to have your CV in an emailable format - Microsoft Word or similar.
3. Order, order
The precise order of the information on your CV may vary depending on your circumstances. However, you should make sure the most relevant and impressive information aboutyourself is on the front page. A graduate for example is more likely to put their qualifications front and centre whereas an area manager would be better off starting with their most recent career history.
4. Call me
Your personal details should come first in the document (name, address and contact details including email). Always remember this is a business document so make sure the email address is sensible - i.e. not firstname.lastname@example.org - that sort of thingprojects the wrong image. If the telephone number you provide is a work number, ensure you mark it as such and include a 'with discretion' warning.
5. Work history
The next information to include is your work history. Start with your current position (or last one if you've been made redundant) and work backwards. Put your job title first followed by your employer, but you don't have to go all the way back to your paper-round! For each job you mention include your remit, key tasks, budgets and headcounts managed.
If you have been with the same employer for a long time it is particularly important to show how each different role within that organisation has added to your skill-set, experience and responsibilities. You don't want anyone looking at the document and thinking you have been stagnating. Likewise, make sure you always, without fail, explain any gaps in your career history.
6. What about schoolin'?
As we mentioned, your circumstances will determine where you place your educational achievements. If you're early in your career or think your qualifications have real significance to the role for which you're applying then by all means include them early in your CV.
As with your work history, start with your most recent qualification and work backwards. It's not really necessary to list every GCSE qualification, instead try something like: "Ten GCSEs grades A-C, including Mathematics and English." Any languages or vocation-linked subjects in which you're proficient through study are also worth mentioning.
Given the premium on available space on your CV, there's no reason to list your referees' full contact details. Simply put something like: "References available on request."
8. Keep it pertinent
The driving force behind your CV should be relevance to the individual job for which you are applying. This doesn't mean change everything on the CV, but make sure the qualities requested on the job advert are emphasised in your CV. Yes,this takes a lot of work but the benefits could be enormous.
9. Honesty is the best policy
Whatever details you decide to include on your CV, make sure itis honest. Unsubstantiated claims, exaggerations and outright lies will catch up with you. If and when you get caught in a lie, your application will come to a crashing halt.
10. Check, please
Once you have gathered your CV together the next step is to read it back to yourself, then spell-check it, then read it again and finally have someone else proof-read it. Spelling errors are really unforgiveable on such an important document, particularly given how easy they are to prevent.
If you would like help building your CV, you could try this CV builder.