Essential CV Tips
Your CV is an employer's first impression of your personality, skills and ability. Its content and presentation, and how you convey your experience and qualifications, says a great deal about you.
If it is difficult to read, too short or too long, doesn't make sense or looks irrelevant, you probably won't get an interview. So, how do you get noticed? Some very simple hints for you, whatever your level or position.
99% of CV's lack all the information required by employers. Pay great attention to this area first! Always include the following:
- Contact Info (mobile/email/home tel.)
- Nationality or Work Visa Information
- Further Education Establishments and/or Secondary School and Dates
- Qualifications and Grades
- Trade Qualifications
- Training Courses and Skills
- Other skills such as driving licence, typing speeds and so on
Ensure date order where possible starting with highest qualification first and working backwards
- Dates of Employment
- Salary and Reason for Leaving
Present employer first, followed by other companies in reverse date order, highlighting the month and year you were employed at each company or role. Go back a maximum of 10 years. Write more about the relevant jobs.
Hobbies and Interests
- Include social positions of responsibility, e.g. Captain of local team, Treasurer of PTA
- Be relevant - for a travel position, list the countries you have visited.
- Full contact details of TWO previous employers.
CV Mistakes to Avoid
- Don't bother with irrelevant information such as height, weight, pets etc (it happens!).
- Present information in logical groups - don't, for example, mix college qualifications with work experience (again, it happens).
- Don't add gaps in employment onto the next job.
- Don't miss out long lengths of employment.
- Don't lie about your age or qualifications. You could tie yourself up in knots trying to explain away any discrepancies and leave the interviewer with a poor opinion about your integrity.
- Ever left a company on bad terms, or been dismissed? Don't leave this employment out of your CV.
- You may well find that you don't get as bad a reference as you imagine. Employers would prefer to give non-commital references than vindictive ones.
- A CV riddled with spelling or typing errors gives the impression of illiteracy at worst and sloppy work at best.
- Always proof read before sending.
- Always update your details properly. Bits and pieces added in pen do nothing for your image.
CV's should be informative, concise, to the point and truthful - references and other details will be checked.
It's not just what you say, it's the way that you say it. If you have moved positions frequently, there are ways in which you can play it down in your CV. If you've temped intermittently at various companies lump them together, for example:
Jan-Aug '08: Temporary employment through New Frontiers working in Business Travel assignments for prestigious companies such as American Express and HRG
Write more about your good points and play down your bad points! If you've been on some excellent courses or gained valuable experience in a certain position, elaborate on it.
Remember, a CV is not just an information document, it's a sales document - selling you to a future employer. It should ideally contain no more than 3 pages, regardless of experience. Any more and it's unlikely to be read at all. For employers speed-reading CV's in volume, a small, 3 line summary of your experience and skills will provide the appetite to read on. For example: Business Travel professional with 5 years experience, ticketing to advanced level and CRS skills.
A CV is not a letter, so don't write it like one. The following chatty resumé, for example, is clearly not appropriate:
Responsibilities: 'I really enjoyed working for this company if it wasn't for all the travelling to the city everyday. When my husband's business expanded, we had to move up North and I was relocated to their Manchester branch . . .'
Don't waffle! Give clear accounts of your Duties and Responsibilities and leave the 'other bits' to the interview.
Do you have a winning CV?
Speed read your CV one last time (AFTER having someone else look at it in detail) and look for these key points:
- What stands out?
- Were you drawn to the positive aspects of the CV?
- Did the CV make you want to go back to the beginning and read it more thoroughly?
- Was it easy to read?
- Now give it to a friend and ask their opinion about what immediately catches their attention.
- Capital letters, bold and underlined words shout out to the reader. Use of these should be used only to highlight your strengths. Check to see you haven't highlighted negative areas.
- Make sure you have spell-checked the CV and that it is grammatically correct.
- Check that the overall appearance of the CV is tidy and looks professional.
Letters of Application/ Email summary
It is useful to create a short summary about why you are suitable for the job you are applying for. This information can be written as a formal letter or it can be in the form of an email with your CV attached. Carefully read the advertisement and then research the company’s website to make your summary relevant. It increases your chances of your CV being read and winning an interview.
If you are writing a formal letter, make sure your letter is well constructed with a beginning, middle and ending. Don't forget that Dear Sir ends Yours Faithfully and Dear Mr Smith ends Yours Sincerely. Ensure you spell check everything!