JSD Consulting

Effective CVs

A CV is the equivalent to a piece of Direct Mail Advertising. It must have an impact and cause the reviewer to read further. It must be professional, in terms of layout, informative and to the point, around 2 or 3 pages in length.

Objective

When your CV first lands in the recruiter’s inbox she/he will scan, rather than read it. It could be rejected in as little as 15 seconds. It must make an initial impact and persuade the recruiter to stop and read it in detail. An effective CV takes much thought and time to develop. Content and a professional presentation are both vitally important. Be careful to avoid the “fatal errors” listed below.

Content

Your CV is your most important calling card in your job search. It should include the following information:

  • Contact information
    Include phone, mail and e-mail contact information
  • Career objective
    You can choose to list or not list your career objective. If your objective doesn't match the recruiter's needs, you may miss out on a golden opportunity. However, a clearly stated career objective can help your recruiter find your ideal career match
  • Summary statement
    Your summary should be brief and include the following
    • Your title and years of experience
    • List of pertinent skills
    • Character traits or work style

    Example: "Financial Accountant with over 10 years' experience with two FTSE 100 companies. Technical skills include P&L, budgeting, forecasting and variance reporting. Bilingual in French and English. Self-starter who approaches every project in a detailed, analytical manner ."

  • Professional experience
    List each position held in reverse chronological order, dating back at least ten years. If you held multiple positions within the same company, list them all to show advancement and growth. The body of each position description should describe your responsibilities and achievements.
  • 12 Accomplishments Employers want to see:

    • Increased revenues
    • Saved money
    • Increased efficiencies
    • Cut overhead
    • Increased sales
    • Purchasing accomplishments
    • New products/new lines
    • Improved record keeping process
    • Increased productivity
    • Successful advertising campaign
    • Effective budgeting
    • Improved workplace safety
  • Other components
    Include education, professional training, affiliations/appointments, licenses, technical skills and languages, personal information
  • Personal information
    Marital status, family, driver’s licence

CV Presentation

In today's competitive job market, company and search recruiters are spending more money and more time developing and refining an Internet recruiting strategy, complete with online tools for CV submission directly into their own web-based CV databases. To keep up with this trend, the successful job seeker now uses standard fonts, crisp black type, clear objectives, and strong key words to prepare a career profile. This ensures that the CV can be read by a computer and "scanned" by the artificial intelligence that is used to extract qualification information. As a job seeker, the more skills, education, experience and professional affiliations you provide in your CV, the better the chances your qualifications will match with those of posted positions or those not yet published.

To help Maximise the Effectiveness of your CV:

  • Use a font size of 12 or 10 points
  • Use standard fonts (Helvetica, Arial, Futura, Optima, Universe, and Times)
  • Do not use fancy typefaces, lines, boxes, bullets, and graphics
  • Use a standard chronological CV format. (most recent job first)
  • For an attachment, use MS Word (.doc, .rtf or .txt); everyone cannot necessarily open/print/use .pdf, .zip, .wpd, .ppt, .wps or .dat
  • If e-mailing, do not use html.  Plain text does the best job for you
  • If faxing, use the "fine mode" setting to ensure better quality copy.
  • If mailing, use a laser-quality original on white paper, printed on one side only
  • State your objective or summary clearly and specifically
  • Strive for two pages ­be brief, descriptive, and list old or irrelevant experience very briefly
  • PROOFREAD for misspellings, typos and grammatical errors, use your spell check
  • Include a short cover letter, which states the specific position of interest to you and why you are qualified.  Put the covering note AT THE END of your CV.  The machine will "want" to read your CV first; maybe there's more than one job available for your background

More Helpful Hints

  • Effectiveness – Clarity
    Human Resources and Recruiter assistants do not always have the time or experience to judge your “ good fit”, so always cover key points of your qualifications for the “must haves” of a position in a custom cover letter.  The cover letter should be the last page of an e-mailed CV
  • e-CVs
    e-mail only in Rich Text Format . rtf, MS Word . doc or Plain Text . txt so that everybody can open your attachment.  Do not use .pdf, .zip, .wpd, .ppt, .pdf, .wps or .dat.  Do not use any 'fancy' version for printing and snail mailing
  • Shotgun
    Do not send your CV to every posting that contains one of your keywords.  Invest in a rifle!  Respond specifically and to targeted companies for best results
  • Hoops
    Nobody jumps through them.  Do not refer an employer to your home page or some place where you have posted your CV for your convenience
  • Danger
    If your CV is posted on any open/public site, your employer may find it. Removal from such sites is recommended
  • Mister
    Do not call yourself 'Mister' in your CV. Too formal in today's world

Fatal CV Errors

We see a LOT of CVs. Our recruiters have listed what they thought were the most common faux pas. Use these tips to avoid making fatal errors in your CV:

Poor grammar, typos, misspellings
A sloppy CV says you're careless.

Overkill
Keep to the point.

Vagueness
Quantify your results. Don't state: "Responsible for supervising 300 employees." Instead say: "Managed the marketing department, which increased revenues 82 percent in a four-year period." Don't write a job description; list what you have accomplished.

Plagiarism
Avoid patterning your CV after the same examples everyone else uses. Hiring authorities get bored with look-alike CVs. Be creative and different, but only to a point.

Coloured paper
Any colour other than white is unacceptable. Coloured paper does not copy well - your CV will be distributed to multiple people.

Clichés and buzzwords
Don't use words that you think should sound "clever”. Hiring authorities are not impressed with "utilise," "flexible," "team player," and "seeking an opportunity for me to grow and develop" .

Tiresome details
If you're well into your career, skip those summer jobs. As you advance in age and up the corporate ladder, pare down your CV. Nobody really cares that you worked your way through university waiting tables, especially when you're applying for an executive position.

Indeterminate gender
If you're Pat, Chris, or Lee, don't keep them guessing.

Lying
First, you don't lie because it's wrong. Second, you don't lie because if you get caught, you won't get the job and you will destroy your reputation.

Omitting your job objective
State clearly what you're looking for. Ambiguity indicates that you lack direction and focus.

Listing your job objective
Note that this contradicts the previous point.

Some headhunters think a job objective limits the candidate. If the exact position isn't available within the organisation, the candidate automatically eliminates himself from a job.

Do your homework in advance to be sure your objective coincides with an open position before including it in the CV. If there are several positions that interest you, either omit your objective or broaden it.