How to create the perfect CV

Ok, it’s time to rewrite your CV. You may perceive this as an extremely tedious and mundane task that only needs a very short amount of your time, but this attitude could seriously jeopardize your career prospects!

A CV is an opportunity to show a prospective employer your skills, achievements and also your personality. It is your shop window and should be viewed accordingly. A poorly constructed CV will do you no favours when applying for a new position.

During my time in recruitment I have seen thousands of CVs, some well written and some extremely poor. Hopefully by the time you have read this, you will appreciate how important your CV is and also how to create the perfect CV.

Construction

The first thing I would advise is to write your CV yourself. Do not be tempted to pay a company to do this for you. Every CV I have seen that has been created by a ‘professional’ CV writing service has been extremely poor and a waste of money. A CV contains personal information and therefore should be treated accordingly, do not entrust someone who is merely doing it to pay bills.

When I receive a CV the first thing I look at is the grammar. Then the construction and finally the content. The reason is simple, I want to see that care and attention has been afforded. Anyone can put information onto a piece of paper, but it takes time to ensure it looks professional, captures the attention of the reader and most importantly, creates the right impression. You are a sales person after all!!

A poor CV tells the reader that you are not committed, lack attention to detail and quite simply, are not taking the process seriously. These CVs will head straight into the shredder. It still amazes me that people cannot see the importance of spending time constructing a CV, after all, this document could be your only way of securing an interview.

Don’t forget, first impressions count. You would not attend an interview in scruffy clothes, so why send a CV which is poorly constructed? Your aim is to communicate your strengths, your achievements, your initiative and your personality. In short, your credibility and suitability. Be positive, not too modest, but do not exaggerate. Always use a spell checker and get someone else to proof read. One mistake could make all the difference.

Content

So, what information should a CV contain and how should it be constructed?

1. Personal details.
Ensure that you provide all relevant information, the names of your children and year you were married are not. The introduction of the Age Discrimination Act in October 2006 means that if you do not give your date of birth, companies are not entitled to ask. I would however suggest that you provide this information as it helps the reader build a clear picture.

2. Profile.
This is a concise paragraph or bullet points highlighting your skills, strengths and achievements. Keep it brief but just enough to gain the readers interest. There is no harm in tailoring this to the role and matching your skills to those required.

3. Education
Work in chronological order starting with the most recent. Include the name of the establishment and the qualification gained. The further back you go, the less relevant they become but always provide some information, eg. 7 O’Levels incl Maths & English. If you are applying for a role that requires specific qualifications, make sure you highlight these.

4. Full employment history
This is the most important. Again, work in chronological order starting with the most recent role. You must include the dates, name of employer, role, duties and achievements.
Sell yourself! Give clear examples of your successes, include actual figures, but only ones that you can back up at interview.
Bullet point the information as this makes it easer to read. You must include a reason for leaving as this will put the readers mind at rest if you have had a few quick moves. On this note, do not leave out positions as you may be found out when references are taken.
The further back you go, the less relevant the roles become, so again, summarise. If you left school and temped for 5 years, do not list each role but bundle them all together giving an overview of the work and the skills gained.
Ensure that you do not leave any gaps between dates, this always worries the reader and makes them think you are hiding something.

5. Interests
One tip – never put ‘Socialising’ or ‘Reading’. They are far too general. Be specific without getting too quirky. Remember you want to appear interesting with an active life outside of work.

6. Referees
My advice is to write, ‘Available upon request.’ A prospective employer does not need names and addresses at this stage.

If you have undertaken relevant training courses list these also, including the date.
Including your picture is not necessary unless specifically requested by the employer.

Feel proud when writing your CV, you want to show yourself off!

Regarding length, do not try to cram all your information into 2 pages, your CV will look too cluttered. Use your common sense. Too short and your CV will lose it’s impact, too long and you will lose the interest of the reader. 3 pages will suffice and should leave the reader wanting to know more. The most recent / relevant information should be expanded upon, this will then allow you to summarise those positions you took upon leaving school etc.

Appearance

Your CV should be aesthetically pleasing also. No fancy fonts, no multimedia, keep it simple and professional. You should be spending more time on the content and less on trying to make your name flash in 5 different colours.
When printing, use quality paper with a decent gsm, do not attempt to alter your CV using a biro and when posting, do not cram the CV into a tiny envelope. Again, remember first impressions.

Finally, if you plan to attach a photograph, make sure you attach the correct one. Trust me on this one!!!

After all of this, take a well earned rest safe in the knowledge that when your CV arrives on the prospective employers desk, it with not languish will all the other scraps of paper and half baked resumes but will be top of the pile and making an impact.

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19 Responses to “How to create the perfect CV”

  1. Ex Girlfiend Says:

    I can tell that this is not the first time at all that you mention the topic. Why have you decided to touch it again?

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  4. munir Says:

    Vince, I think you are saying that you like the post. I really appreciate this, too many people create their CV in 5 minutes and quite frankly, they may as well not have bothered. You wouldn’t go to an interview without your shoes on would you???

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