In almost every job you apply for throughout your career, you will be asked to provide a CV, sometimes known as a Resume. CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, which translates to ‘course of one’s life’ in English. This is exactly what a CV is, a demonstration of what your life and experience so far has provided you with, and how this is relevant to the job you are applying for.
The purpose of a CV is to persuade an employer or recruiter to invite you for an interview or move to the next stage of the application process. A CV won’t get you the job (that’s what the interview is for), but it is a key tool to open doors to new opportunities. A CV is often the very first impression that an employer will have of you, so it’s important to nail it! Continue reading to find out how to create the perfect CV.
Keep Things Simple
It can be tempting to cram in every detail about your life and experience in order to create a full picture of who you are. However, this is a direct route to having your CV filed into the bottom drawer. Recruiters and employers aren’t looking for your life story at this stage, and they don’t have time to read an essay. They want to get an idea of your skills, experience, and education. You will have the chance to elaborate once you get to the interview stage. Keep your CV short and skimmable: no more than two pages. Focus on the key points – bullet points are your friend!
Take a look at the examples above. The CV entry on the left makes it difficult for the recruiter or employer to pick out the key information from a wall of text and unnecessary waffle. The entry on the right clearly states the important information in a digestible way that allows the recruiter to quickly understand what the role involved, and the skills demonstrated.
You may think a few little tweaks to the truth will fly under the radar and make you look that bit more impressive. But adding an extra qualification or lying about your skills can actually do more harm than good. Employers and recruiters would much rather hire someone who is willing to learn to fill any gaps in their knowledge than someone who is willing to lie to get ahead. You’ll also be putting yourself at a disadvantage if you get the role and cannot deliver what you promised in your CV. Honesty is always the best policy!
It might seem like a lot of effort, especially if you are applying for lots of different jobs, but it is a good idea to tailor your CV to the specific job you are applying for. Study the job advert and pick out the specific skills they are looking for, and be sure to highlight these throughout your CV. If there is a high volume of applications for a certain job, recruiters will sometimes use software to scan and shortlist the best CVs, so using similar vocabulary to the job advert can help get you on the shortlist.
Whilst recruiters don’t need an essay on your life at this point, it is a good idea to include a short personal statement at the beginning of your CV to get across a sense of who you are, and to provide conversation points if you get to the interview stage. A good personal statement will be a short paragraph that outlines who you are, how you are suited to the role, and your goals for the future. Take a look at the example below to get an idea of what your personal statement should look like.
"I am a skilled Sales Manager within the construction industry. I have a master’s degree in Sales Management, along with 11 years of experience in Sales. I am confident managing a team and am always keen to take on new challenges. Having worked with industry leaders in construction to secure major commercial contracts, I am now looking to expand my horizons and apply my skills to a new industry.”
Spell Check… and Check Again!
A CV is a recruiter’s first impression of you, so it is important to ensure that you’re using the correct spelling and grammar throughout. Some jobs receive thousands of applications, so the smallest things can get you out of the running including bad spelling and grammar. Strong written communication and attention to detail are sought after in a majority of jobs, and your CV is a great opportunity to demonstrate these skills.
Make it Look Good
A great way to make a CV to stand out is to add a little bit of personality to the design. Sure, a black and white Word document gets the job done - but adding some colour and/or subtle illustration can make you stand out against an ocean of black and white. This is a particularly good idea if you’re applying for a job in a creative industry, as you’re demonstrating your creativity before the recruiter has even started reading. We’ve included a couple of examples below.
We hope these tips have given you some insight into creating a great CV. If you’d like to gain some new skills to add to your CV, why not take a look at our range of online courses? Wondering what recruiters are looking for? Check out our last blog post, 10 Key Skills that Employers Look for in Candidates.