In today’s labour market, where competition for roles is fierce, spending time on crafting your CV so that it creates an impact and helps differentiate you from the rest of the candidates has never been so important.
Below are some key guidelines to help you prepare your CV:
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LAYOUT AND STYLE
- Name and contact details – mobile number, e-mail address and LinkedIn profile.
- Use the CV hotspot (the upper middle area of the first page) to full advantage by tailoring your profile (no longer than 5 or 6 sentences) to showcase your relevant qualifications, experience, skills and competencies for the role.
- Prepare your CV in reverse chronological order.
- List both academic and non-academic qualifications in reverse chronological order, including results achieved and years attended.
- List your work experience in reverse chronological order. Ensure to include a concise overview of the company you worked with as well as your key responsibilities and a separate section on key achievements.
- Use Times New Roman or Arial and font size 11 for both your CV and cover letter. Use bold for headings and bullet points for the key responsibilities and key achievements sections.
- Ensure to justify the text so that the margins are neat.
- Use standard A4 white paper and include a brief cover letter with the CV.
- The cover letter should be kept to the point and should focus on your core technical and interpersonal skills e.g. HAZOP Chair, experience of managing integrated management systems, Lead Auditor, experience of managing cross-functional teams, etc.
- Write your CV with the reader in mind – use bullet points as these are easier to read and keep paragraphs short. Preferably no longer than 4/5 lines.
- The next more important criterion is to tailor the CV to the role – be sure to revise and tweak your CV so that your relevant experience and skills are readily detected.
- Take time to dissect and digest the job description – take notes and create bullet points, highlighting the experience you have and do not have. With the areas where you’re lacking, fill in the blanks by adapting the skills you do have. For example, if the job in question requires someone with leadership skills, there’s nothing stopping you from using personal pursuits such as team sports where you captain a team. It will demonstrate the skills you do have and show how they’re transferable.
- Use plain English and avoid jargon and in-house terms – if you do include acronyms, be sure to explain unless they are generally well known.
- Use positive and assertive language such as “developed”, “led”, “organised” or “achieved”. Try to relate the skills you have learned to the vacancy in question. 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”.
- For all of your significant roles, include a section on Key Responsibilities where you outline the duties assigned the post. Also, include (directly underneath) a section on Key Achievements wherein you include information such as major milestones (e.g. achieving ISO9001 for the site, 1,000,000 hours no Lost Time Accidents, 1st Class Honours in your course taken for work, etc.) The ideal content for this section is information which can be expressed statistically (% increases, reductions) and which is metrics-driven (linked to Key Performance Indicators, targets, etc.)
- Make the most of your skills and do not overlook soft skills such as communication skills, problem-solving and team-based skills – in today’s climate, the ideal candidate will need to be both technically proficient and adept at working with and for others.
- If you decide to include an Interests section, make sure that your interests exhibit traits and skills that would be desirable for the prospective employer. Describe any examples of positions of responsibility, working in a team or anything that shows you can use your own initiative. Include pastimes that illustrate how skilled, interested and interesting you are. It is best not to include passive interests like watching TV, solitary hobbies that can be perceived negatively. Make yourself sound really interesting as a potential colleague.
- Finally, keep your CV updated – make sure to review and refresh your CV on a regular basis. Retain a master copy of your CV where you can add in new courses, skills, achievements etc. and then customise your CV prioritising and highlighting the elements that match the requirements of any given vacancy.
- The suggested length is no more than 2 pages for a graduate and 4 for an experienced professional. The length of the CV will depend on the position for which you are applying and also the level of your experience.
- Ensure that you keep all detail relevant to the position you are applying.
- A carefully crafted CV is clear, concise and makes every point necessary without waffling.
- Include a line stating that references are available upon request. Do not include referee details as you may wish to provide different referees or the contact details may change. Also, by disclosing the referee details at interview/post-interview stage, you have the opportunity to contact your referees and brief them ahead of the call.
WHAT NOT TO DO
- DO NOT write the date the CV was prepared – the CV will appear out of date.
- DO NOT send a generic CV – this comes across as being ill-prepared, lazy and disinterested.
- DO NOT include anything you are not able to talk about at interview.
- DO NOT leave any gaps on CV – account for any breaks in your work history e.g. travelling, study, career break, etc.
- DO NOT exaggerate exam results or target achievements – be honest.
- DO NOT LIE – you will be found out.
- DO NOT USE professional jargon or acronyms that other people might not understand.
BEFORE SENDING OUT YOUR CV
- Check and double check your CV.
- Check content is relevant to the reader or business and the role you are applying for.
- Check for grammar and spelling errors.
- Check to ensure it is a clear representation of you and that you can stand over the content.
- Ask someone to proof read your CV and check for any errors.