1 The purpose of a CV is to get you an interview. It does not have to include everything. It does have to make you stand out from the crowd. Keep reminding yourself that your CV and covering letter have just one purpose: to get you an interview. Be objective in your pursuit of that goal. What would make you think ‘we must meet this candidate’?
2 Before they even read a word, they have made an assessment of your abilities based on a split-second glance at the CV. It must be well presented, in a clear and legible typeface, about 12pt, a maximum of two pages long.
3 You have a few seconds to impress and keep them interested, so your heading must include your name, how to contact you and, most important, a sentence (or less) that will make sure they want to contact you. They may read nothing else.
4 Target your CV at the specific business or job opportunity you are applying for. Irrelevant information will send you to the waste paper bin.
5 Do your research on the company, get a handle on their style and ethics so you don’t fall into the ignorance trap. Read the application details and make sure you give the company what they are asking for.
6 Arrange work history and education with the most recent first, emphasising the qualities, skills or experience that the recipient would find most valuable. The fact that you worked in a shoe shop on Saturdays five years ago is not going to impress.
7 Make sure you recognize and communicate your transferable skills. If you do mention the shoe shop, it should be because it taught you interpersonal skills, stock management, or whatever.
8 Have a sensible email address; ditch the silly one you set up in year 13.
9 Focus on what the employer wants to know about you: that you have the skills to do the job, the right attitude, and the right personality to fit in.
10 If one word is enough, use it. Notes or bullet points are acceptable.
11 Be honest and be prepared to expand on anything you include.
12 Avoid platitudes and unnecessary jargon.
13 Don’t be afraid to include some personal background if it supports your application.
14 Do some lateral thinking. If you want to get into children’s book publishing, for example, think about why. What contact do you have with children? What experience are you developing?
15 Ask a few people to describe you in five words. Think about what they come up with and make sure you have communicated the positive qualities.
16 Presentation should be professional. Choose a clear, legible font in 12pt; don’t touch script or display fonts. Choose headings carefully – if they read nothing else, that’s what they should see first so make sure they include the key messages
17 Two pages of A4 is the maximum; make it fit and avoid a difficult turn-page. Remember that different versions of Word will affect page breaks, so send a pdf.
18 Check it, double-check it and have it checked by someone else. Print it out and check it again.
19 Name it properly – what happens when a manager gets 50 cvs all called 'cv.docx'?
20 Save it and back it up.
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