Whether you're venturing out on your own or working your way up the career ladder, solid footing only happens when you perfect the basics, as any of our 2017 Businesswoman of the Year nominees will tell you. Your CV is akin to a professional calling card; it allowed you to get your foot in the door and thus begin your unique story in the world of business - so perfecting yours is hugely important. And you never know when you might call upon that piece of paper again - women can start, stop and begin again at virtually any age these days. Whether yours needs a revamp or needs to be completely re-written, career phycologist Sinead Brady has seven steps to perfecting yours, which should see you through any interview.
Your CV is your professional story shared with prospective employers. Research by LinkedIn tells us you have only six seconds to capture the imagination of potential employers, so you need to tell your career story clearly, concisely and interestingly to get an interview. Here are simple, effective rules you must follow when drafting your CV.
Format, format, format
The boring stuff first! Stick to standard, consistent formatting, Verdana Font size 10, and 1.5 spacing. Research proves this effective combination of font, size, and spacing is easiest to read and is the preferred font of those with learning difficulties, such as Dyslexia. No fancy stuff (unless you are going for a creative role). Once finished converting your CV to a PDF file which ensures no nasty formatting errors sneak in when submitting it by email.
At the very top of the page, in bold lettering, include your full name, address, email and phone number. Make sure your email address is appropriate - no fun or funny emails! The very first thing the reader should see is your personal information accurately and clearly displayed. Follow this with a 3-5 sentence career profile, then work experience, education, achievements, hobbies, and interests. Ensure that all headings are bold and easily identifiable for the reader.
Keep it short but detailed
It doesn't matter who you are or what you have achieved; your CV should be two A4 pages with one additional page for your cover letter. Use the job description to identify areas of crossover between your current experience and the job you are applying for. Be careful to achieve this accurately and avoid the temptation to be liberal with the truth. Each time you include a piece of information ask yourself, How does this information relate to the job description? What problem does it solve for my prospective employer?
Your information must be accessible and easy to read while also allowing your personal career story to shine through. Name your professional responsibilities and key achievements gained in your current and previous roles, highlight accomplishments you are proud of and back up each statement with tangible facts and figures.?
Always include a Cover Letter
If you know the name of the person reading your CV, use their name. Dear .. Outline in 3 - 5 sentences how you heard about the job and why you are applying. With the formalities out of the way use your cover letter to give more information about the items in your CV that you want to draw attention to or need to provide more specific information about, e.g. a gap in employment, a change of role or a period of change, etc.
Social Media Matters
Future employers, no matter what anyone says, search your social media profiles before making a decision to employ you. Before you send off your CV, review your social media profiles. If your posts and profile are questionable and not career relevant swiftly, enable your privacy settings. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and your newsfeed is full of industry-relevant articles.
Read over your CV
Make your CV flawless by reading over it and repeatedly checking spelling and grammar. Check that your personal details are correct, that your phone number is accurate and that your email address has not been autocorrected. Always ask a friend or family member to read over your CV and cover letter to identify any mistakes. There is nothing more unattractive to a potential employer than simple, glaring errors.
By Sinead Brady