Your CV is your own personal sales document that will help to sell your skills and secure your perfect role. Your aim is to entice the recruiter to want to know more about you.
A CV must have impact. It should be professional, in terms of layout, informative, to the point and relevant.
It’s important to spend time on it and, while we will guide you through the process, it’s worth considering the following hints.
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 pack a punch 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 ‘serious errors’ listed below.
Your CV is your most important calling card in your job search. It should include the following:
- Contact information:
Up to date contact information should include phone numbers, address and email address
- Career objectives:
Clearly stated career objectives can help your recruiter find your ideal career match
- Summary statement:
Your summary should be brief, including your years of experience, list of relevant skills and character traits or work style.
For example: ‘Financial Accountant with over ten 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.
Accomplishments employers want to see:
- Increased revenues
- Saved the company money
- Increased efficiencies
- Reduced overheads
- Increased sales
- Purchasing accomplishments
- Developing new products/new lines
- Improved record-keeping processes
- Increased productivity
- Successful advertising campaign
- Effective budgeting
- Improved workplace safety
Other information to include:
- Professional training
- Technical skills, IT skills and languages
- Personal information e.g. driver’s licence
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 (most recent job first)
- 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 only list work experience if it is relevant to the post or you developed skills such as team-working
- 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
Fatal CV Errors
We see a lot of CVs. Our recruiters have listed what they thought were the most common mistakes made by candidates.
Poor grammar, typos, misspellings
A sloppy CV says you're careless
Keep to the point
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.’ Rather than write a job description, simply list what you have accomplished
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 or background
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’
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
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 the available position before including it in the CV. If there are several positions that interest you, either omit your objective or broaden it.