Welcome to 2014! It’s a time of year traditionally given over to self-improvement (and maybe a little regret over those biscuits & cheese.) While you’re thinking of your personal well being, don’t forget to give your CV a checkup. It’s a great time of year to make sure your CV reflects everything you’ve accomplished in the last year. Forget the gym; kick off 2014 by bodybuilding your CV.
When it comes to CVs, prospective employers judge the book by the cover. Your CV has, on average, 15 seconds to grab the reader’s attention, so make every second count. Use a clean, 10-12 point font with no italics or decorative touches – give Comic Sans a miss and stick instead to Arial or Times New Roman, fonts that carry over well no matter what program the reader is using. Use bullet points instead of paragraphs to draw your reader’s eye and get the most important information across quickly. This isn’t the time for an autobiographic epic, either – leave off your date of birth, marital status or sex. Stick to two or three pages at most, and leave the elaborate details for the interview. Finally, remember to use high-quality paper stock for your physical CV – the tactile element counts!
A Tailored Fit
Whether you’ve sent out one or one hundred CVs, it’s important to match your CV to the prospective employer. Yes, it creates extra work, but taking the time to include relevant information for each position forms a better impression for your reader. Your personal profile is a prime place to target your future employer, so include information that highlights why you’re the best candidate for this position – include your current and last role, the type of role you’re seeking or the type of company you’d like to join, a summary of your relevant skills and two personal qualities that showcase your ability to perform well in the role.
Win points with your reader in your core skills section by tailoring your skills here, too. Chances are you’re applying for a job with some sort of job description; highlight the skills that match the ones in the job description. Don’t forget about your hobbies, either – it’s a chance to show off how well you’ll fit in the role. Choose one or two hobbies with relevant ties to the role – team sports for team roles, etc. – and show them how you not only have the skills, but the personality for the part.
If your reader has read this far, you’re doing well! While your work history and education sections don’t have to be tailored to each individual role, you’ll want to cover a few basic points here: your responsibilities, and your achievements. Employers want to see what you’re capable of, and listing your achievements backs up what you say about your responsibilities. In your education section, stick to listing the relevant information – do you really need your GCSE on this CV?