Curriculum Vitae literally translated is "direction of life" and is your first opportunity to impress a potential employer. When a vacancy is advertised a candidate specification is created, identifying the skills and experience required for the role. During the selection process the CVs will be reviewed to see how closely they match the person specification, in an attempt to find the most suitable candidate possible. Nowadays agencies and employers are receiving hundreds of CVs for each role so it is vital that your, CV and covering email or letter stands out from the crowd.
A well written CV will be something that paints a picture of you, whilst detailing achievements and future aspirations to get you that all important interview.
Writing your CV basic factors to consider:
- You have 10 seconds to impress the reader, sell yourself using positive language that emphasises your key skills
- Demonstrate experience and achievements.
- Be precise, be concise and entice.
- Short snappy sentences are easy to read and grab attention.
- If you think of a recruitment consultant writing a very concise report about you then you won’t go far wrong.
- Include information that is consistent with the seniority of the role you are applying for, to create interest in you as a candidate.
- Remove the personalisation such as "I", "my", "our" and "we" and write like a journalist in your approach.
Decide where to place your emphasis: if you are recently out of college or university it could be knowledge and education; it could be results; it could be intangibles such as changing organisational culture - this depends on what stage you are at in life and what type of professional roles you have had.
Prioritise your information so that the most important information comes first and not trivia about where you live, how old you are and what schools you went to. Far better to create a brief sketch of yourself that positions you at the right level so that the reader knows at once that you are a relevant candidate for the job.
When you come to describing your work history, you are looking to build a story of your career in which the strongest, most recent experience has priority and the rest of the story goes back in time without repeating the minor roles over and over. Pay particular attention to the following:
- Dates and employment should be easily found and consistent.
- Lead with achievements, use active verbs and positive language.
- Follow up all claims with proven examples be quantitative as well as qualitative.
- Include awards or recognition received for work well done, together with professional memberships and relevant training.
- Ensure every line sells you at your best.
- Prioritise relevant content.
- Take ownership and use words such as determined, implemented, created, devised, co-ordinated and conceived.
- Include figures i.e. number of staff you managed or budget size and achievements against targets or budgets.
- Focus on what you have to offer the employer rather than listing what you have done.
Ensure that you write about your achievements. Don't write about things you are not so good at - it might be unwise to mention things that could count against you when the employer might not have considered them anyway!