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The world of work is becoming increasingly competitive, so as well as experience, bags of enthusiasm and a ‘can do’ attitude, you also need a CV that sparkles and shines.
In essence, your CV needs to be an evolving document that develops and grows as you do.
Whilst you might spend hours getting it right, a potential employer will have moments to read it and decide whether you can do the job and are you the right fit for their business.
Harsh but true, so you need to make that first CV moment matters so you get that interview.
Stick to the facts
The most important thing with a CV is to be 100% honest. A white lie here and there might not seem a big deal, but it can be a total deal-breaker so keep it real.
Layout and structure
Keep your CV clean and uncluttered and aim for no more than two pages and number each one. Use a font such as Arial, Courier or Times New Roman in font size 12 for the body text and no larger than 16 for bold headings. Keep the copy short and sweet and avoid lengthy sentences and fluffy words. Don’t refer to yourself as ‘I’ or by name and use the past tense to describe your career and the present for skills.
Start your CV with your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address. Be aware that including your date of birth is no longer needed thanks to age discrimination rules. Some people add a photo but this a matter of choice. Your website and blog can be listed as well as any relevant social media details but be aware of what you write on feeds as the world can see it.
This is an opportunity to really sell yourself and ensure you stand out from the crowd. Approach it is a sales pitch where you need to capture the reader’s attention and keep them interested and wanting to know more. The statement needs to be succinct and snappy and reflect your professional qualities and personality. It can be hard to write about yourself, so ask a trusted friend to read your statement and offer feedback.
When it comes to your professional experience the protocol is to start with your most recent position and work backwards. Include the title, start and end dates, company name as well as a brief description of the job for each position you have worked in. It is a good idea to include the responsibilities and scope of each role as well as any achievements and promotions.
If you have had any significant career gaps, include these and add reasons why, for example travelling and maternity leave. It is better to be honest about these periods of time and you might even highlight learnings whilst you were away or looking after a young family.
Including your education and qualifications is essential. List academic achievements first then professional qualifications complete with dates, grades and establishments. You can also include additional skills such as languages, technical know-how and vocational training.
Check, check and check again
It is vital that you check your CV for spelling and grammar mistakes as sloppiness could cost you your dream job. Get a colleague or friend to read through because a fresh pair of eyes can spot errors you have missed.
You can either add the details of your referees on your CV or say they are available upon request. Whichever you go for, ensure you have the permission of the people you use and only give permission for them be contacted when you are ready.
As well as references you can include client and internal endorsements that reinforce what you have said about yourself.
Once you have your CV ready, date it for that months and then update it as you go along. Not only will this mean you have it to hand at anytime but also keeps experiences, dates, details and successes fresh and included.
You may also want to slightly tweak and tailor your CV for different jobs to ensure you really bring out your strong points and most relevant experiences and skills.
Good luck and happy job-hunting.