The first thing prospective employers see is your CV, this is your advert, your sales pitch, it’s unique to you and therefore it has to be spot-on!
My CV has changed drastically over my working-life, until 5 years ago when a previous manager took the time to tell me what she looks for in CVs, what she dismisses straight away and what draws her attention.
One thing I’ve learnt about CVs is that less truly is more, I think a typical CV should be a maximum of 2 pages (unless you are applying for a very specialist/senior role that might require more career history)Name/Contact Info
I open my CV with simply my name and contact details- this is where you ditch the embarrassing hotmail address for a simple ‘name’. I NEVER put my date of birth or address, after-all prospective employers cannot discriminate against age, let your experience speak for itself.
I then add a short but sweet introduction-avoid using over complicated, wordy garbage, stick to plain English.
Re-phrase commonly used CV introductions- so rather than stating you ‘work well individually or in a team’ state you enjoy working in a ‘team environment’ but also have ‘the discipline to work independently’. You don’t need to swallow a thesaurus to appear professional, keep it clear and concise.
This is all about quality over quantity. No one needs to know about every job you’ve ever had, keep it to the last 2/3 roles you’ve held.
Add the dates you held the role, the job title and the company it relates to. Then use bullet points to describe your role, this keeps the format nice and clear and helps you to list the job responsibilities.
Make sure each bullet point is an actual sentence not just*Filing and printing, get creative and add substance to each task *Providing admin support to the team, conducting print work and managing documents. *Booking travel becomes *Preparation of travel itineraries and agendas.
Try to limit the use of jargon and abbreviations-you want the person reading your CV to understand your experience.
Here’s something I tweaked for a friends CV to describe a retail role they’d had:
This was their description:
My job included meeting and greeting customers, providing any assistance they needed and also working on the tills.
Which I reworded into the following:
- To work as part of the sales team
- Meet and greet customers, answering customer queries, making recommendations
- Assisting customers with purchases,using the tills and taking payments.
- Maintaining high standards of merchandising and housekeeping at all times and carrying out replenishment of the sales floor within my areas of responsibility.
- Adhering to all Company policies and procedures e.g. hanging, size cubing, tagging of stock, replenishment, faulty stock and organising stock in stockroom.
There’s no harm in adding a little depth to sometimes menial tasks, often some job responsibilities are quite simple but it’s down to you to ‘sell’ the experience you gained from a particular job.
Bullet point your key skills, industry-recognised qualifications, systems you use etc, for example:
- New ideas/challenge
- Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office including Excel and Visio
- Full UK Driving Licence
- First Aid at Work
Remember this doesn’t have to be posh qualifications, it could be simple but very desirable skills you have gained from previous jobs, you might be a strong communicator or have Construction Industry Knowledge.
Simply list your most recent place of education (Uni/College/School) and what qualifications you gained, I never add what grades I obtained just the subjects I studied.
Here’s where you describe your out of work activities- are you a member of a sports club, or you have recently taken part in some fund-raising, or you may just like to socialise with friends in your spare time. It’s really worth adding an insight into you as a person, even if it’s just a couple of lines- the person reading your CV might remember you as ‘the one who plays Sunday league footy’ or ‘the marathon runner’.Don’t forget when applying for jobs to include a covering letter as to why you want the job, yes it’s annoying and time consuming but it shows effort and gives you the opportunity to say why you want a certain role.
The reality is most people who read CVs skim through them, so keep it short, sweet and neat!