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Preparing a Curriculum Vitae (CV)
"Only a piece of paper" is what some say about a CV, but your CV is the single most important document you will ever be involved with in your life. This piece of paper, like it or not, will shape your future. The Latin term 'Curriculum Vitae' actually translates to 'Course of Life'. If your CV doesn't appeal to the reader then it is unlikely to get a second glance. So let's face it, if you don't put the effort in here, you are making a monumental mistake. It's as simple as that.
As a Redundancy Help user, we want you to succeed in your job hunt, so we have enlisted the people at CV Expert.com to give you all the advice you need, the do's and don'ts and much more. In these pages we will give universal advice to all career types, the rules that go right across the board on what a CV should seek to achieve, because without an effective CV, job interviews will be a rarity. Also, we will disseminate even further to look at different job market sectors and the unique expectations of each sector, allowing you to further fine-tune your CV and get results.
1. Compact CV's Win Interviews
You may think that this is stating the obvious, but too many CV's resemble War & Peace and recruiters don't have enough time to read each CV from cover to cover. If you try to include every scrap of information on your CV, it could end up in the bin. Remember the three 'P's:
Your CV must be informative and relevant, but punchy too, highlighting only relevant or important points. If your current CV is crammed with pages and pages of text, then your chances of being called for interview will lessen dramatically. Don't despair, though - in the following pages we will show you how to formulate an interview-winning CV!
One very useful tip to keep the information in your CV pertinent is to focus your employment history on the last 10 years or so, and only include previous positions in a simple list form (i.e. job title held, company name and dates). If a prospective employer wants to know more, they will call you in for interview so that they can ask you.
2. Sell Yourself
If you don't blow your own trumpet, then who will? You must be prepared to sell yourself throughout your CV in terms of your character, experience and achievements.
Begin your CV with a 50 to 70-word profile, which briefly encapsulates all of the points above. Use active words such as gained, co-ordinated, and managed. Be sure to sprinkle in one or two achievements. For example, if you hold an MBA, say so in your profile as well as in the education section. Similarly, a strong achievement in the workplace is also worth mentioning here as well as in the employment history section. You should look at the profile as a preview of the rest of your CV. If the content of the profile is impressive, then the reader will be encouraged to read on and find out more about you.
3. Work Experience
One thing that you must bear in mind here is to list your employment in reverse order, starting with your most recent role first. There is little point in beginning your work experience section with a role that you occupied ten years ago, and bears little or no resemblance to the role that you are applying for. As stated previously, you should focus upon jobs held and experience gained during the past ten years or so and include the rest in a brief list form. This helps to both reduce the length of your CV in general, and prevents a recruiter being bombarded with more information than they need.
For each of your detailed employment entries, you should begin the description by offering 10-20 words on what the company actually do - If a recruiter knows what kind of environment you were working in, then the rest of the description will make twice as much sense to them. Many candidates don't realise the importance of this particular point and lose out on valuable opportunities. Give a positive description of your role and objectives within the job. Be sure to mention any equipment or systems you became adept at using.
As your employment goes further back, you should lessen the length and detail of each job description. This will highlight your more recent roles and experience. Also, the amount of time you spent in a role is a factor. If your most recent role was a short-term contract, then briefly summarise it, and then go into greater detail when detailing the most recent full-time role that you previously occupied.
Think about the achievements and experience you have gained within each post and insert them in bullet-point form after the job description for each post. Think carefully about these key points and write them in a punchy, sales-like manner.
If possible, use hard facts and statistics to give a particular achievement more backbone, as the use of solid figures adds credibility to this information.
Where you place information about your education depends on the amount of work experience that you have gained after gaining any official qualifications, such as HND/C's and Degrees.
A recent graduate's CV, for example, will go straight into education after the profile section, whereas a seasoned professional should list educational qualifications after their employment history, typically on the second page of their CV.
Wherever you place your education section, you should be sure to structure it so that it shows your most important qualifications first, listing qualification grade and where you studied. If you have room, you may also wish to include details of the subjects or modules studied and brief details of your final dissertation, if any. Any additional qualifications supporting these 'main' ones, such as 'A' levels or GCSE's should be listed below, in reverse order of when they were obtained. Descriptions of these supporting qualifications should be kept as brief as possible. However, you should include details such as places of study and dates, as this information adds credibility to your qualifications.
6. Contact Details and Address
You should include every possible contact method at your disposal, including email address. Always put this information right at the top, slightly smaller than your main body text, but not so small as to be difficult to read. This places your contact details within 'easy reach', but does not distract the reader too much from the profile and other main body sections.
Remember that a prospective employer may wish to contact you right away, so include your mobile or work number if possible. Many candidates have qualms about including work or other daytime telephone numbers, but remember that if a recruiter calls you on one of these numbers, they will know that discretion is required. If you get a call at an inconvenient time, simply say 'I can't talk now', and ask for a name and number so you can call them at a more convenient time.
'Round-the-clock' contact information will maximise your exposure and ensure that you will be presented with all available opportunities because you are easily contactable.
7. Spelling and Grammar
Overlook spelling & grammar considerations at your peril - just one mistake can put the reader off and consequently your otherwise dazzling CV could end up in the wastebasket. No employer would be keen to employ someone who cannot be bothered to correct a few spelling & grammatical errors in a two or three-page document, because such lack of attention to detail does not speak well of the candidate.
Our advice here is to simply check and double-check. Make full use of any spelling and grammar checkers used by your wordprocessor. Get friends and family to read your CV once it is complete, as a fresh perspective can often identify mistakes that would otherwise have escaped your notice.
8. Tailor Your CV To Suit the Job
Be sure to adjust the profile, employment history and achievements to more relevantly reflect the specification of the job that you are applying for. This will give your application enhanced credibility and suitability.
Examine the advertisement or job specification carefully and ponder the qualities sought by the prospective employer. Whilst remaining completely honest (NEVER fabricate details on your CV - untruths are all too easy to uncover at interview stage), match your CV and its content to the requirements of the particular job. You can do this by highlighting those aspects of your experience that have the greatest relevance to the requirements of the job.
9. Hobbies and Interests
You should insert this information near the end of your CV, as a small paragraph of text. Remember; keep it short (around 20-30 words), simple, colourful and positive. Try not to mention activities or interests that indicate lethargy or vices such as watching TV and spending time at the pub. Also, it is generally understood that details of any strong political or religious affiliation should be omitted.
Don't bother to list any references on your CV. Your experience and suitability alone should decide whether or not you are called in for interview. You should take details of referees to interviews with you, however, as this is the most likely point when a prospective employer may require them.
You should choose your referees carefully. The best references, i.e. those that give the most accurate measure of your abilities, are those that come from current or recent employers. Also, you should make the referees aware of the possibility that they be contacted. Unsolicited reference requests are often met with ambiguity, which will have a damaging effect on your application.
11. Choose the Right Format
No matter what sector your chosen career may lie, your CV will fall into one of the following formats.
Examples of each of these CV categories can be found later in this section.
Decide which category you fall into and stick to the general format suggested by the examples we have provided.
For example, a graduate CV would have its own unique format, placing greater importance on qualifications by listing these first after the profile. In contrast, an executive CV would list the employment history first, as work experience is generally of greater importance to positions of this level.
12. Recruiters and Keywords
When sending your CV into a recruitment organisation on speculative
basis, it is worth remembering that quite often your details will be
stored electronically on to a database. For this reason be sure to think
carefully about what area you are likely to be searched on in the career
type you seek.
13. Do's & Don'ts
This quick, point-by-point guide will assist you in assessing your current CV and remedy any common mistakes that are committed:
In this section, CV Expert will advise you on what different CV types they use, and what each of these types should seek to achieve. There are, as previously stated, different types of CV. Which of these types is right for you will depend on two basic factors:
These CV types, as recommended by the CV Expert, are as follows:
4. Total Career Changer
If you are a job hunter seeking a totally new direction for your career, you may be driven by the desire to downshift from a senior role to accommodate a complete lifestyle change or simply a realisation that your current arena is simply not for you and that another is.
Whatever the case, this creates the need for a totally new and unique perspective on what your CV content and layout should be. Described as a Functional CV, this CV type does not entirely reflect much of the advice that would be absolutely right for a career continuer.
This type of CV also requires an extremely strong and persuasive cover letter to precede it if it is going to succeed. A functional CV has to be tailored to the specific market it is going into. A standard approach to a variety of sectors simultaneously simply will not work.
Decide what potential role/s and area/s you are aiming for and prepare a bespoke CV for each one highlighting the pertinent characteristics and skills that you perceive relevant for each type.
The covering letter is a companion to your CV, but is written entirely separate from it. Its purpose is to introduce briefly you as a candidate, indicating your career goals and objectives. Essentially, it is a slightly longer version of the profile section of your CV, but it should not be overly verbose, ideally remaining under 100 words. We recommended that your covering letter include the following information:
In the attempt to fit this information in such a small space, we recommend
that you adopt the following policies with regard to the writing style
of your cover letter:
In addition, there are a number of layout considerations to be carefully thought about when writing your covering letter:
More and more jobseekers now employ a professional CV or resume writer to scribe an effective CV. This is because people generally find it difficult to present and sell themselves objectively on paper and lack the expertise and knowledge to format that sales pitch to form an interview-winning CV. Whilst the cost of such services is a consideration, if a professionally written CV lands you your dream job, then that CV has paid for itself many times over.
There are many companies on the internet that provide CV writing services, with differing methods. Some of these are excellent and offer a truly professional service like that provided be CV Expert.com, but others could leave you a little disappointed. In most cases, a professionally designed CV will give you the edge over the competition, so we have assembled a buyer's guide for obtaining a professionally designed CV.
1. Know What You're Getting
2. Check Credentials
The best CV writers tend to be ex-recruiters - the 'Poacher-turned-gamekeeper' analogy works well here. If possible, you should ensure that your chosen organisation or individual has gained some professional experience that is relevant to the general handling of CV's, preferably those with a recruitment or personnel-related background. We would also recommend that you try to obtain testimonials from previous users of the service, as the more professional CV writers like to offer some credibility to support their previous good work.
3. Online Services
4. What Should You Expect to Pay?
The way that a person performs in a job does not solely depend upon their ability, personality also plays a very important part. Used in conjunction with other measures and assessments, a personality profile can provide a useful insight into an individual's style of behaviour and how they interact with other people.
It is worth remembering that there is nothing miraculous about a personality profile - what comes out is determined by what you put in. It is a structured way of getting you to describe yourself. In line with best practice, if you are required to complete a personality assessment, you should be offered feedback on your assessment as a matter of course.
Points to bear in mind when exposed to occupational & personality profiling include:
In summary, psychological profiling has its good and bad points. This type of personality profiling is not yet de rigeur in the UK, but it's use is becoming more and more widespread, and some foreign and international employers use these methods regularly as part of their selection exercises.
Below are several typical examples of an opening profile for a CV.
A technically adept professional, working within the dental restoration and impression materials markets. Possessing excellent product knowledge, hands-on expertise and first-rate market development skills, I am a natural coach and communicator who possesses a high level of integrity coupled with a strong desire to succeed. Now looking to develop within a technically challenging role within a commercially demanding scientific environment.
A determined and diligent Engineering professional with extensive product development experience gained within the automotive sector. With proven managerial and technical skills, this adept improver is equally comfortable working both individually and as part of a team. Now seeking a challenging Research & Development or Test role within a dynamic and progressive operation where enthusiasm, dedication and the ability to manage tasks effectively are prerequisite in driving the organisation forward.
As a highly dynamic player within a legal interpreting business, this adept professional has a solid academic background and international working experience. Confident and approachable, this capable individual now seeks to develop her career in an entry-level legal role within an international organisation where a diligent and results-oriented work ethic is rewarded and actively encouraged.