You may be the strongest candidate, but if your CV is poorly presented then it is highly likely that you will not even get a first interview. Such is the competition for roles these days, candidates have to ensure that their CV is as strong as possible, in order to stand out from the other applicants. Whilst there is no “magic formula” to producing a great CV, there are some best practice guidelines that you should follow.
REMEMBER: The aim of your CV is to promote, but not to oversell yourself. Because the details on your CV will form a large part of any interview, it is wise not to excessively embellish your achievements or tell any untruths. Stick to the facts to avoid embarrassment.
Your CV should be easy to read and clearly presented on white A4 sized paper, using a single generic font such as Arial. It should ideally be no more than 2 to 3 pages in length. The aim is to draw the readers attention to the skills and attributes that you can bring to the job, not to put them off with a poorly formatted CV, typed in an illegible font.
Use headings and bullet points to highlight the various areas of your cv. Examples of headings are:
Personal Information: Name, Address, Contact Details.
Summary or Overview: A brief introduction about yourself, and briefly outline the skills and attributes that you can offer, tailored to the job description for that specific role.
Education: Qualifications, Professional Qualifications & Memberships.
Employment History: List your employment, starting with your current or most recent role. Use bullet points to highlight your skills, attributes, duties and achievements for each job.
Interests: A few sentences about your interests and hobbies outside of working hours.
REMEMBER: The “Horses for courses” approach. Tailor your CV to the role.
Your CV should form a basic framework that can be adjusted slightly, dependent upon the job specification of the role for which you are applying. Thus, demonstrating to the hirer that you possess the necessary skills and atributes to be able perform the job to a high level. Plus, a tailored cv and an individual covering letter (more on this below) shows that you have spent time preparing your application, that you are interested in the specific position, and that you are not just sending random CVs off to any employer in the hope of getting lucky. A “bespoke” CV beats a “ready to wear” CV, everytime.
Other CV hints & tips.
No missing dates: Ensure that there are no missing date gaps in your CV. You will be asked to explain these at some stage during the recruitment process, so it is wise that they are documented.
Use present tense for past skills: Always refer to your skills and attributes in the present tense and not the past tense, particularly when referring to previous jobs. This will help demonstrate to the person reading your CV that you still possess these competencies, and that you would be able to use them in your new role.
Referees: Always seek permission from any referees before presenting them to the hirer. You don’t need to include referee details on your CV, But, it is a good idea to let them know in advance that they may be contacted, at some point, during the recruitment process.
Teamplayer mentality: When describing your skills and attributes, try to demonstrate using examples of your ability to work as part of a team. Think less in terms of yourself as an individual and more in terms of the team ethic. Try to use examples that will highlight a good work ethic, motivation and “commitment to the cause”; as well as emphasising areas which indicate that you have excellent communication skills.
Positives & potential: Try to ensure that the positives contained within your CV relevant to the job, are clearly demonstrable to the reader. It is also important to highlight the future as well as the present and the past. ie. If you are currently studying for a professional qualification, then this should be documented on your CV, as it highlights your potential.
Check your CV: When you have finished putting together your cv, you must check it for spelling and grammatical errors. It is a good idea to have your CV checked by an impartial verifier, such as ourselves or an associate, who can advise as to where you may want to make adjustments.
Save your cv: Be sure to save your CV as either a .pdf document, or as a Microsoft Word document .doc or .docx format.
Attach a covering letter with your CV.
A covering letter enables you to establish a personal contact with your potential employer. Again it is important that the covering letter is tailored to the specific role for which you are applying. The covering letter should be a precursor that provides a summary or overview of the main points that you would like to get across to the hirer. It should be no longer than about three to four paragraphs long, and is often structured into three parts.
Part 1 : Intro: Introduce your self, what role you are applying for and how you found out about the role.
Part 2: The main section: Your opportunity to highlight the skills and attributes that you would be able to bring to the role, using specific examples and avoiding cliches. Also in this section you should outline why you would be a valuable asset to the hiring company, again using specific examples.
Part 3: Closing section: Indicating your salary range, notice period and availability for interview. Also, ensure that your contact details are clearly displayed. It is also a good idea to suggest the best time / day, and method by which to contact you.
Register with us as a candidate
Start the ball rolling by registering with us as a candidate and uploading your cv, using the form on this page.
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