The CV is something which has been selling our ability to do a job for years. It’s a walking advert for our aptitude, intelligence and experience. Something which should make us stand out from all the rest.
But, as times have changed, so have the characteristics of a good CV. While it’s still important to ensure that your spelling, punctuation and grammar is absolutely spot on, there are other things to take into consideration too.
All too often CVs are far too long. It’s understandable, after all, you really want to sell yourself, but reams of paper about every little thing you have ever achieved in your life can be quite off putting to start with. Save the effusive sales pitch for your interview. Keep your CV to two sides of A4 – maximum two and a half. Also, have it word processed, use active language, a simple format and an easy to read font.
A new rule in how to write a good CV is to make it relevant to the role you are applying for. Gone are the days of firing out generic CVs in the hope that someone will take a look.
In our modern age, the first view of your CV can often come from a robot (or software scan) which is looking for important key words and phrases, so adapt the CV to the job you are applying for. While you should avoid repeating lines from the job advert which could be passed off as spam, pick out key words that the employer is obviously looking for – with real examples – and find a way to incorporate them.
Begin with your personal details. There’s no longer any need to put Curriculum Vitae at the top, just start with your name, address, phone number, email and maybe even a professional social media presence.
The personal statement which comes next is your chance to shine. Demonstrate concisely what you have done in the past and your aims for the future, using the skills you have. Showcase your achievements here with evidence of how you have exceeded your targets and successful ideas that you have had. Useful facts and figures to back up your examples are a good one to include and make sure your relevancy to the role really stands out.
The career history should be pretty concise. There’s no need to go into every detail of every job you’ve done. Again only include bits that are relevant to the role. For more more recent roles, maybe have a list of three or four achievements listed as bullet points.
Again, your education history doesn’t have to include everything. If you have a degree, maybe there’s no need to include your GCSE Grade B in Home Economics. Keep it concise and showcase your most recent, more impressive qualifications.
References are not strictly necessary either, as everyone knows they should be available on request, so this could be another way to cut down on the length of your CV. Look to make every word of it count.
And finally, once you are finished with your CV, check, check and double check. Then get someone else to check. There’s an awful lot to be said for first impressions so make sure that the one you make with your CV is a good one that stands out for all the right reasons.