The job of your CV is to get you a job! Therefore, every single word that finds its way on to the 2 A4 pages it spans should answer one simple question: ‘How can I prove that I will be successful in this job?’ If your CV shows off your skills, abilities and experience by answering that simple question then you are a shoe in. This means that every single word must be effective. Given that we know from the time your CV hits a potential recruiter's desk you have just 6 seconds to impress, crisp writing, a clear modern design and descriptive, error-free storytelling are vital. These 9 simple tips will also help you create a compelling narrative.
Get the basics right
Put your contact details at the very top. It’s amazing how many CVs omit this! Include your name, address, email and phone number. Put in a link to your personal website, if you have one, and to your LinkedIn feed. Use an email address that is professional e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org and not your old college one! A photo is optional- some people think it is a distraction, others say it helps them connect with the application.
Format, Format, Format
The boring stuff first! Stick to standard, consistent formatting- Verdana Font size 10, and 1.5 spacing. Research proves this combination of font, size, and spacing is easiest to read. The exception to this is if you are applying for a creative position, in which case, pay special attention to layouts and feel free to deviate from the Verdana!
Make a Personal Branding Statement
Use the section directly under your name to tell the reader about your unique qualities, skills and experiences. Take 3-4 adjectives that describe your key strengths and weave them together with the job description. A branding statement takes time as you need to tailor it to each role, but it is worth it. If you are a social media guru your statement might be- “Ambitious, creative, skilled yet practical social media professional with 5 years’ experience managing global social media accounts in an agency.”
This section is important as it provides evidence of how successful you can be in the job. State your duty or responsibility and how effective you were/are in carrying out that duty or responsibility. Also show key metrics.
“Team Leader – Trained and managed a team of 12 for the past 5 years. During that time staff retention was high and revenue increased by 15% year on year.” Or perhaps- “Digital Marketing Manager – 7 years’ experience in creating online marketing campaigns. Online engagement increased by 20% during each quarter and advertising costs decreased by 12%.“
If you are having trouble putting this section together, use past performance reviews for ideas. Stating what you did without what you achieved is pointless so deal in quantifiable evidence.
Your qualification summary is the second most valuable section of your CV. There are certain educational/qualifications prioritized by employers. These are usually outlined in the job description and if you can demonstrate them, you instantly gain a competitive edge.
Accountancy becomes ACCA, CIMA or ACA qualified, HR becomes CIPD qualified. Include memberships of professional bodies here also. Include any training you have done-- night classes, online courses or day long training.
Control Your Timeline
Keep your work history to your previous 2/3 roles. Anything that dates back 10 years or more adds little value. By all means add the dates, role and company you worked for but leave the detail out. This information should be on your LinkedIn Profile.
Social Media Matters
Future employers will search your social media profiles. Before you send your CV off, review your profiles. Enable your privacy settings if necessary. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and your newsfeed is full of industry-relevant articles.
Hobbies and interests are important so should be included, particularly if you have done charity work, or something related to the role you are applying for. This section should be personal but keep it short.
Proofread and Edit
Repeatedly check spelling and grammar. Recheck your personal details. Make sure your email address has not been autocorrected. Have it independently proofread.
Designing a great CV is the first step toward designing a career you love. Don’t cut corners and give it the time and attention it deserves. Remember, if you don’t design a career that you love, someone will do it for you.
Photo credit: Olu Eletu, Unsplash