YOU know that you're a star but without a knock-out CV no-one else will believe you. Here’s how to impress and write yourself into a better job.
1. The nuts and bolts. The edited highlights of your working life should be no more than two pages long, says Andy Sharman, the head of recruitment for UK and Ireland at Procter & Gamble. “Less than two (full) pages suggests that you don’t have enough experience,” he says. Acceptable cheats include easy-on-the-eye spacing and increasing the font size.
2. Avoid vague statements. “Quite often people start with a profile — a short statement setting out who they are — but we see an awful lot that fall into generic phrases,” says Lorna Froud, the head of careers at Oxford Brookes University. “ ‘I am an excellent team worker’ is meaningless without evidence to back it up.”
3. Be concise. “It’s not War and Peace,” says Steven Kirkpatrick, the managing director of Adecco Staffing. Recruiters who have to plough through hundreds of CVs don’t enjoy flowery prose. Use active verbs and bullet points to ensure that every sentence counts.
4. Tell the truth. “The most important thing is not to lie,” Kirkpatrick says. “People augment their CV by adding senior this and that to make themselves a more attractive candidate,” he says, only to embarrass themselves later in a competency-based assessment. “If your first impression is a lie, it’s not a great basis for moving forward.”
5. Focus on your skills. A CV is a selling tool and how you break down what you have learnt and what you can do is crucial. “It’s OK to simplify job titles to make them clearer,” Sharman says. “Write a few bullet points that outline your achievements and experience to back that up, and say more about your recent roles.”
6. Personalise it. “There’s nothing as bad as getting an automatically created CV from a website,” Kirkpatrick says. “What they are buying is you, so sell them you. It’s always nice to have personal information on the interests that make you a human being,” Sharman says. But do try to stand out from the crowd; if you like curling up with a book, tell them what you read.
7. Less is more. Show you have done your homework on the prospective role by tailoring each CV that you send. Pick out the competencies that each job advertisement specifically mentions, then demonstrate your experience. Don’t send out hundreds of generic CVs because your application is sure to be found wanting compared with those who have really targeted theirs.
8. Avoid gimmicks. Most CVs find their way via e-mail, so avoid the temptation to use a rare and unusual font or layout, Sharman says.
9. Get the basics right. It can be hard to spot your own spelling mistakes and grammatical errors but, as Kirkpatrick says: “For God’s sake, you’re typing it up. Use the spellcheck.” The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services says that one big graduate recruiter rejects 56 per cent of applications because of poor spelling.
10. Finished? So you’ve written the perfect CV, that’s the job half done. Now check out how to write the .