Crafting the perfect CV is your first step to standing out from a sea of potential employees and securing yourself a job.
Before you worry about having your suit dry cleaned to impress that future employer, you need to make sure you have your foot in the door first.
Whether or not you are actively looking for a new job, it’s important to keep your CV up to date. Just like your career, your CV will change and grow over time, so consider it a “living, working document,” as Anna Howell, founder
of The Careers Lounge, says.
Before you begin
When it comes to standing out, don’t forget about the design of your CV. How
will you make the document eye catching?
“Remember the rule: ‘less is more’,” Anna says. “When it comes to the layout, keep it simple. Use an easy-to-read font in the right size; the most common is Times New Roman, size 12, but other popular fonts are Arial, Tahoma and Century Gothic.
“Aligning all paragraphs to the same side makes for an easy read. And ensure there is more white space than writing – by that I mean it doesn’t have to be crammed with information; use bullet points instead of long sentences to give more impact, remembering to keep it at only two pages long.”
Many of us may have been told that it’s good to include a photo on your CV, but these days most people will advise against it. So what should you include?
“Start with your basic contact details and remember to use a professional email plus links to any relevant social media platforms you wish to highlight.
“The first paragraph, also known as your personal profile, is then used to introduce yourself. This is where you need to be gently persuasive, emphasising to an employer how you can be of use within the company, using key words that are individual to the job you’re applying for, without over using buzz words that sometimes aren’t appropriate – keep it to only six or seven lines.”
Skills to pay the bills
When tailoring your CV, you may be eager to show off and list all of your skills and experiences. But doing so might overwhelm your potential employer, so avoid listing everything at the start.
“Make sure you tell an employer just enough to tempt them to want to read on further, and hopefully get you to an interview,” Anna says. “Remember, the average time usually spent reviewing a CV is eight seconds.”
When it comes to listing your skills, use bullet points, and give examples of how you achieved each skill.
“Hopefully you will have kept a list of skills and experiences from your previous jobs, internships or volunteering opportunities to be able to pick four to six relevant ones that match what an employer is looking for; make sure you read the job advert properly to be able to match it with what you have to offer.
“Many people have heard of soft skills, which are more like personal attributes and traits such as people skills, team work and time management. Then there are hard skills – these are job specific skills and knowledge, teachable skills if you like.
“Nowadays, employers are looking for a third type, too: hybrid skills. This is mixing soft skills with technical ability. For example, employers are now looking for administrative support staff to do more than greet visitors and organise files – they want hybrid skills that include designing presentation materials, updating websites and social media management.”
Completing the picture
After laying out your skills, list your work history in chronological order, again using bullet points to keep it clean. Each point should include where you worked, your job title and dates.
“This section is used to show an employer where you have worked, and not to highlight or repeat your skills that have already been mentioned. Remember to make sure there are no gaps in your employment history, but if there are – for instance, you’ve been bringing up a family – write it in, as there are plenty of transferable skills.”
After this comes the section about your education. Begin with your most recent qualification whether professional or academic.
“High school qualifications are not always needed, unless however you are creating your first CV and then all your grades and subjects will need to go on.”
Finally, you need at least two references, being sure you ask permission from the person before doing so. This should be someone who can vouch for your work ethic and character. Unless otherwise asked, on your CV you can simply write ‘References available on request’.
Now that your CV is complete, it’s time to go out and secure that job. Good luck!