Your CV is an essential part of your job search. It's worth spending time and care on it to make sure it represents you well. The good news is that the hard work you put into that process will not only result in a great CV, but will also help you put together a great covering letter, prepare you for interviews and support you in networking.
Your CV should:
• Honestly reflect your career and achievements.
• Focus on what is most relevant for a particular job.
• Make it easy for a recruiter to say 'Come for an interview'.
Getting into the 'Yes' pile
Recruiters typically spend about 30 seconds looking at each CV before deciding whether to put you on the 'Yes' pile or the 'No' pile.
Make it easy for them to put you on the 'Yes' pile by presenting clear, relevant information that matches your skills and experience to the job applied for.
There is no magic formula or single ‘right’ way to put your CV together. It is your document and it is vital that you feel comfortable with the way it represents you. The guidelines and tips below will give you an outline of best practice from which you can select the ideas and approaches that work best for you.
Three steps to a successful CV
There are three basic steps to putting a CV together. These are:
1. Target – know who your CV is aimed at and what they are looking for. Read the job description and person specification carefully and use this to help you put together your CV (yes - you may need to re-draft your CV slightly for different roles).
2. Offer – know what you offer (your skills and experience) and have evidence i.e. examples to back this up. Use figures in your examples where you can.
3. Presentation – present what you offer to the target well so that they can easily see you have what they are looking for. Keep it short, no more than 2 pages. No fancy formatting – just make it clear and easy to read.
Basic CV ingredients
• Contact details – name, address, telephone number, email
• Personal statement – an attention grabbing 4 to 5 lines or bullet points containing the things about you that are most relevant to the job you are applying for. Find more advice here: how to write a good personal statement.
• Career history – your roles, responsibilities and examples of key achievements (most recent first)
• Training and professional development
• Technical and other skills
• Interests (optional)
• References – put ‘available on request’
If you are looking for a change in career or have had a career break it can work better to have a different format. You could use a skills based CV. Instead of a career history, detail your key skills under headings such as creativity, project management, finance, marketing etc. Use headings that are relevant to the role you are applying for. Then have a shorter career summary listing your previous roles.
Our sister company, Women Like Us, hold regular CV Clinic workshops in London. These small group sessions are particularly designed for women who have had a career break or are wanting to change their career direction, or for those who simply want to ensure their CV stands out from the rest.