Tara Daynes – HR and Employment Law Consultant and Trainer
1) Don’t make your CV a collection of previous job descriptions! Focus not just on what you’ve done, but also on how successfully you did it, so that your CV stands out from others with a similar career path – because having experience doesn’t always mean having ability! List key achievements as well as your tasks and responsibilities.
2) Have a section focussing on your key skills. Choose four or five that are critical to job success – such as teamworking, communication or customer service – and give some examples of when and how you’ve demonstrated those skills.
3) Don’t limit yourself to job-related achievements and experiences, especially if you’re in the early stages of your career. Refer to other activities to show off your skills and attributes, such as hobbies, sports, involvement with clubs and societies etc. E.g. Being on a committee at University is a great example of using teamworking and communication skills!
4) Use dynamic words for maximum impact. So instead of “I did…” try “I created/managed/developed/implemented/initiated/presented…” etc.
5) Use some more dynamic words to describe how well you did things, such as accurately, efficiently, on time, to budget, proactively, effectively etc.
6) Remember, a CV is a business document, not a letter to your mum! So don’t put in long paragraphs of flowery narrative – chances are they won’t be fully read anyway. Instead, use bullet points and simple formatting (such as bold type) to make key words and phrases stand out.
7) Make an effort with presentation, but don’t go overboard (see point 6!) If you try to stand out with colours, images, different fonts and OTT formatting, you’ll just give the recruiter a headache.
8) Proofread, proofread, proofread – and then get someone else to proofread (preferably someone who can spot errors!) Make sure you fix not just spelling mistakes and typos, but also grammar, punctuation and poor wording. Read it out loud to check what you have said makes sense!
9) Don’t just send a CV on its own – that’s like sending someone flowers with no card to say why or who they’re from! Always submit a cover letter with your CV, which gives a brief overview of what you’re applying for and why. The cover letter should give the recruiter enough of a taster to make them want to then read your CV, instead of filing it under B (for Bin!)
10) Finally, DON’T FIB! If you have the right approach to presenting and wording your CV, you should have no need to tell porkies – which means no-one can sack you later if you get rumbled!
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