L.E.S. Guide to C.V. Preparation
When it comes to applying for a new job, your CV could be just the ticket to get you that initial foot in the door and secure an interview – but how do you ensure your CV is added to the interview pile rather than thrown straight in the bin?
Unless you have been head-hunted, your CV is going to be your primary selling tool. A well presented CV can secure you an interview by catching the eye of an employer, can encourage the interviewers to see your experience as a valuable asset, help you focus on the key points that you need to expand upon in interview and remind the interviewer about you once the interview is over.
Tailored CV -vs- Generalist CV
A single generalist CV is unlikely to be sufficient. Just as you are an individual,so too is the organisation that you are applying to and you need to think about your audience.
Get the Basics Right
There is no right or wrong way to write a CV but there are some common sections you should cover. These include: Personal and contact information; Education and qualifications; Work History and/or experience; Relevant skills to the job in question; Achievements or hobbies; and some references.
Presentation is Key
A successful CV is always carefully and clearly presented, and printed on clean, crisp white paper. The layout should always be clean and well-structured and CV’s should never be crumpled or folded, so use an A4 envelope to post your applications.
Always remember the CV ‘Hotspot’ – the upper middle area of the first page is where the recruiters eye will naturally fall, so make sure you include your most important information there.
Stick to no more than two pages of A4
A good CV is clear, concise and makes every point necessary without waffling. You do not need pages and pages of paper – you just keep things short and sweet. A CV is the first point of contact between you and a potential employer; it is a chance for them to see if you, as a potential employee, tick the right boxes. And, if everything is satisfied, there is a better chance of securing a job interview.
Also, employers receive dozens of CV’s all the time so it is unlikely they will read each one from cover to cover. Most will make a judgement about a CV within minutes, so stick to a maximum of two pages of A4 paper.
Understand the Job Description
The clues are in the job description, so read the details from start to finish. Take notes and create bullet points, highlighting everything you can satisfy and all the bits you can not. With the areas you are lacking, fill in the blanks by adapting the skills you do have. For example; if the job in question requires someone with sales experience, there is nothing stopping you from using any retail work you have undertaken – even if it was something casual or a short term position to help pay the bills through college. It will demonstrate the skills you do have and show how they are transferable.
Tailor the C.v. to the Role
When you have established what the job entails and how you can match each requirement, create a CV specifically for that role. Remember, there is no such thing as a generic CV. Every CV you send to a potential employee should be tailored to that role, so do not be lazy and hope that a general CV will work, because it will not!
Create a unique CV for every job you apply for. You do not have to re-write the whole thing, just adapt the details so they are relevant.
Making the Most of Skills
Under the skills section of your CV do not forget to mention key skills that can help you stand out from the crowd. These include: Communication skills; Computer skills; Team working; Problem solving or even speaking a foreign language. Skills can come out of the most unlikely places, so really think about what you have done to grow your skills, even if you take examples from being in a local sports team or joining a voluntary group – it is all relevant.
Highlight the things that show off skills you have gained and complement the skills the employers are looking for. Bullet point any examples of positions of responsibility, working in a team or anything that shows you can use your own initiative!
Making the Most of Experience
Use assertive and positive language under the work history and experience sections, such as “developed”, “organised” or “achieved”. Try to relate the skills you have learnt to the job role you are applying for. For example: “The work experience involved working in a team”, or “This position involved planning, organisation and leadership as I was responsible for a team of people”.
References should be from someone who has employed you in the past and can vouch for your skills and experience. If you have never worked before you are OK to use a teacher or tutor as a referee. Try to include two if you can.
Include the referee’s name, their professional title and a contact number. If you are uncomfortable doing this, simply state at the bottom of your CV, “References available on request”.
And remember ALWAYS ask permission from your referee’s before including them on your CV!
Keep your CV Updated
It is crucial to review your CV on a regular basis, update key information and add any new skills or experience that is missing. For example, if you have just done some volunteering or worked on a new project, make sure they are on there – employers are always impressed with candidates who go the extra mile to boost their own skills and experience.
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