If I see one more CV with the phrase ‘I work well independently, and as part of a team’, I’ll scream. What does this even mean? You can work with people? Blimey! Well done! These are just words to fill a space on a CV, it’s meaningless, yet everyone writes it.
Your CV is an opportunity for you to stand out from a crowd of applicants, an opportunity to showcase your abilities and to secure your space on the interview day. It has to be engaging, and below, I’ll give you the basics on how to do it…
Simple yet effective. The standard is to pop open a word document and type away, but the best CV’s I’ve seen have used creative and professional templates. You can find these templates for free online. Canva templates look great.
Make sure your headings and body text are uniform. Nothing frustrates me more than when I see multiple text sizes throughout a CV, or worse, mismatch fonts. Choose a single font, Calibri if you like to be careful, or something like Avenir if you want to be a little different while remaining professional. Choose three font sizes – one for the document title, one for your headings (probably size 12) and one for your body text (probably size 11).
Be sure to stick to this. It’s so ironic when people state in their CV that they have excellent attention to detail, but their text is all over the place.
Design in check, now to start writing. Firstly, there is absolutely no need to write ‘Curriculum Vitae’ in your heading. Anyone looking at this document will know it’s a CV; there’s no reason or benefit to state the obvious. The document title should simply be your full name.
Here is your first chance to intrigue the employer. Begin by introducing yourself and throw in some buzzwords that accurately describe you. For example, “I’m an ambitious and entrepreneurial Business Development Executive. I thrive on solving problems and am hungry to achieve high bonuses”. (If you’re in sales, don’t be scared of saying you’re motivated by money – that’s why you’re in sales!)
Next, explain (honestly) why you’re looking for a new role. E.g. “I’m looking for something new because I want to join a more progressive and forward-thinking business. My current employer is traditional, and I’m looking for innovation.”
That leads nicely onto your final sentence. Explain what job you’re looking for (tailor this to each application you submit). E.g. “I’m looking to step up into a Business Development Manager position. I believe my proven success as an Executive has prepared me to push forward.”
This profile is structured, gets your point across and highlights your skills and personality.
Many people opt for chronological order. There are two good reasons to do the opposite…
This means that if you didn’t do so well in education, you can wow the person with your employment successes before they reach your grades. The opposite way, they’ll see the bad grades first and make a judgement, then proceed to your early, non-relevant employment before getting to the good stuff.
To summarise, lay this section out with your employment first, then move onto education and list in reverse-chronological order.
Give a summary of your role(s) – what you did and how you did it, and give examples of achievements within that role.
Always include dates and don’t leave any gaps. If you do have gaps, give the reason why, i.e. if you went travelling.
Often overlooked, but there is significant importance of stating what you get up to outside of work. It’s an opportunity to show your personality. If you’re sporty, outdoorsy and like to see friends often, you’ll convey you’re more extroverted and competitive. If you’re techy and enjoy gaming, you’re probably a bit more introverted and analytical. Both personality types are better suited to different roles and different work environments.
This could be a saving grace for you. If you’re an introvert, you wouldn’t want to join a company full of extroverts and vice-versa.
Never state your reference details on your CV. You’re inviting potential employers to contact your current employer to obtain a reference. If your current employer doesn’t know you’re thinking of leaving but finds out via a reference request, it can make things a little awkward.
Always state ‘References available on request’. This way, you can give reference details at your discretion and avoid scenarios like the above.
Write from the audience’s perspective. Always be thinking ‘will this gain a hiring manager’s attention, and will they be intrigued?’.
Want to have a conversation to go over some tips? Get in touch…
Jae Jackson-Loveridge | Director