We all know how important first impressions are, and the first impression a potential employer will have of you is when your CV hits their desk. A good CV won’t secure you the job, but it will get you an interview.
There are different theories on what makes the perfect CV but the key thing in our eyes is that it’s clear, concise and, most important of all, does your talents and experience justice.
To expand on our thinking, here are our top 5 do’s and don’ts for putting together a winning CV:
1. Use the tried and tested structure
Yours isn’t going to be the only CV on the table unfortunately, and the recruiter or employer looking through them all doesn’t want to have to think too hard about getting all the information they need. That’s why you should use the tried and tested sections that tend to feature in all CVs: personal and contact information, work history, qualifications, relevant skills and personal interests. Keep the sections separate and clearly titled so the recruiter can effortlessly find their way around.
2. Tweak your CV for each new position
Do a little bit of digging to find out what the job entails and how you can meet the key requirements. Then tweak your CV to beef it up in the areas that are most relevant for the role in question. You don’t have to re-write the whole thing but just sprinkle a little extra gold dust in the places that are likely to tick the boxes for the employer.
3. Keep everything relevant
Put yourself in the employer’s position when you’re editing your CV. If former positions or experience from many years ago aren’t relevant to the job you’re applying for, then don’t be afraid to strip them out.
4. Make your CV easy to read
Again, put yourself in the position of a busy employer and make the information on your CV as easy to digest as possible. Use bullet points to separate the key facts and avoid long sentences and bulky paragraphs which can be uninviting for the reader.
5. Keep your CV up to date
Depending on what you do and what stage of your career you’re at, your experience and qualifications are likely to be changing year-on-year. Review your CV every quarter to make sure it’s up to date and that no recent skills or training needs to be added.
1. Don’t include your age
Under the Equality Act 2010, it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against candidates because of their age. Recruiters or potential employers aren’t allowed to base their hiring decisions on how old you are, so don’t encourage them to do so by including your age on your CV.
2. Don’t go over two pages of A4
However experienced and well-qualified you are for a position, you should be able to fit all the key information an employer needs within two sides of A4. If you find your CV is any longer than that, you should focus on editing things down (not just switching to a smaller point size)!
3. Don’t undersell yourself
Modesty has its place, but that place certainly isn’t on your CV. Sell yourself as best as you possibly can in terms of experience and relevant skills.
Don’t forget to mention key skills that can help you to stand out from the crowd. These could include: communication skills; computer skills; extra-curricular management skills (running a sports team?) or organisational skills (helping out at a local charity?)
4. Don’t over-exaggerate
Whatever job you’re applying for, lying on your CV is a complete no-no. Trust is one of the key qualities for any position and as soon as you’re rumbled for not telling the truth, it’s game over. That could even be the case if you’ve already landed the job.
While you need to sell yourself as well as you can, don’t be tempted to make claims you can’t substantiate.
5. Don’t forget a final check
Silly mistakes on your CV are unprofessional and give the impression you have a poor attention to detail. This is likely to be a deal-breaker for most jobs. Get your CV checked by someone you trust to ensure that the spelling and grammar is as accurate as possible.
As an independent recruitment company with over 34 years’ experience, Trio can give you personalised advice on putting together a CV and everything else needed to get the job. If you’d appreciate our support, please just contact us on 01494 450312 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be delighted to help.