How to write a great CV

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1 How to write a great CV No matter what the selection process is for the role you are applying for, the first step is making sure you have a great CV! Your CV will be used to assess your suitability for the role against the selection criteria, so you need to make sure that it is accurate, detailed and brings to the attention of the reader anything significant about your skills, experience and achievements. Most CVs get no more than 60 seconds attention so you need to capture and maintain the interest and attention of the reader. A Good CV A good CV will significantly increase your chances of getting the job you want. It is a brief, clear outline of your experience, skills, achievements, qualifications and personal qualities that should demonstrate your suitability for the job. There is no official way to present a CV, however you may find the following tips useful as a general guide. First of all, here are some basic factors that your CV needs to be no matter what role you are applying for: Strong Concise 2 pages is the ideal length Easy to read Eye catching Well laid out Original and interesting Factual and honest make sure you can verify everything in it Relevant to the job you are applying for Focused on the future and where you want to be; it s not just an historical document The following should not be incorporated: Current salary or salary expectations Date of birth Any negatives or anything critical Poor grades or unfortunate work experiences Reasons for leaving any jobs Referees can be given later when requested A photograph Names and ages of family members Matters about health or any disabilities you have Any trade union or political affiliations Marital status is optional

2 What should my CV include? Profile Your profile is the first opportunity you have to summarise your experience on your CV. It should be short and succinct, with a brief description of yourself (typically 3-4 lines) and give an overview of your key experience, skills and personal attributes matched to the requirements of the job you re applying for. It should include a short summary of your career background (experience and level/sector) and convey the key strengths you offer as a prospective candidate for the role. Examples: 1. Chartered Electrical Engineering Manager operating at senior management level in electrical control sector. Strong on sales negotiations, project and cost management. Track record of successful projects in excess of 4m. 2. A professional and efficient secretary with several years experience in operations and finance divisions. Excellent communication skills and attention to detail, also acknowledged for discretion, flexibility and a desire to exceed company targets. Key Skills and Achievements This section provides a summary of the specific skills and achievements you feel are relevant to your application and the role you are applying for. You may wish to bullet point this after your profile, however make sure you don t duplicate any information. It should summarise your areas of expertise and demonstrate that you have all the key skills and experience required for the role. Before completing this section, review the requirements for the role concerned and ensure you cover as many of your relevant skills/ experience/areas of knowledge as possible. Using specific examples can really help to emphasise your experience, for example: People Management most recently managing a team of 14 Advisers within a contact centre environment. My team has consistently hit the target of 80% for the last 6 months. Don t just write a long list of your abilities, prove them. For example, if you say you are highly creative give an example to support this e.g. designed a new media pack for a marketing company. Career history This is likely to be the area of your CV which includes the most information and is your opportunity to give a summary of your experience to date. Put your current job first then your previous jobs in date order, starting with the most recent. What you are doing now is most relevant to the assessor so include a greater level of detail for your last three roles or your experience over the last ten years - whichever is the longest. Summarise older positions briefly one line descriptions are sufficient. It is not necessary to list every position held in an organisation. Don t repeat details common to several positions, unless you need to reinforce some aspect of your skills. Your entry for each role should include the following: Dates you were employed Role title Company name Responsibilities held and achievements whilst in the role Place more emphasis on the key achievements as they carry more impact than responsibilities.

3 Begin each statement with a strong action verb e.g. Achieved, Delivered, Exceeded rather than weak ones e.g. Responsible for, Was involved in, Helped to. Examples: Implemented cost reduction, productivity and quality improvement programmes saving over 3M Saved 2M through benefits redesign while maintaining overall quality and employee satisfaction Don t assume that everyone has heard of all your previous employers. Where necessary provide details of their size, industry and market. Also, don t expect the reader to know what your job involved. Make sure you include details of what you actually did whilst in that role. Ensure you include your achievements and quantify these where possible. Remember to clarify the scope of your role(s) e.g. people remit, size of budget managed etc. Make it easy for the reader to pick out successes, perhaps by including five or six bullet points outlining your key achievements. Remember, you want to show how you would add value to the company, so explain what you did, how you did it and what was achieved. Include any voluntary or work placements it is the quality of what you achieved in the role that is important, not whether or not you were paid. Don t leave gaps between dates the employer will want to know what you were doing during this period. The Best Way to Write About Career History Instead of just listing what you did, state how it benefited your employer. A potential employer will think if you achieved something for someone else, you could achieve it for them. For example, rather than just stating Worked on spreadsheets, say Built spreadsheets that helped the team to identify cost savings to the business. Think about measurable benefits, e.g. time or costs saved, revenue generated etc. Educational/Professional Qualifications/Training This section should include an overview of your educational and professional qualifications. Keep the information short and accurate. Include qualifications gained and, where appropriate, the grades attained. Don t worry about going into lots of detail around educational qualifications. In most cases a short summary is sufficient. For example: Sixth Form College 3 A-levels (grade A to C) University of Huddersfield Degree in English Literature (2.1) However, this section is especially important when applying for roles which require a certain level of education and/or a specific qualification (CMAP, CIMA etc). In these cases you may need to include more detail around subjects that you studied etc. If you have obtained a formal degree within the past 4 years, list it at the top of your CV. Otherwise, all education and qualifications should be under work experience, unless the subject area of your degree is of particular significance to the kind of work you are applying for. Decide what emphasis academic qualifications should have in your CV. If gained a long time ago, are rather sparse or not very relevant to career aspirations just provide brief details. Only include in-house training if this is relevant outside the company concerned. It s best to stick to universally recognised training and qualifications (e.g. Microsoft Excel course, First Aid). Training courses do not include irrelevant or very short courses, but do put down any which are relevant to the job, have provided you with new skills or informed you of important professional developments. PC skills if you have more than basic skills state them clearly in bullet point style. Itemise specific computer applications and differentiate between proficient in and familiar with. If you specialise in IT, the technical skills section should be included at the beginning of the CV and should detail specific areas of expertise including hardware, software, programming languages, mainframe, networks etc.

4 Interests Interests are worth including because it gives employers an insight into your personality and often form the basis of an ice-breaking question at an interview. They can be overplayed if relevant or underplayed if not. Make the most of positions of responsibility, e.g. treasurer of a club, school governor. Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses Start by asking yourself honestly what skills and experience you have. Think about the skills you developed in jobs you have had or those skills you have developed in your life outside of work. Ask yourself: Are my skills up to date? Are there skills I want to develop? Do I have the skills necessary to get a job I would enjoy? The job market has changed and it is less common for people to have the same job with the same employer for the whole of their working life. It pays to be flexible and adaptable when it comes to a change in your career. Recognising your transferable skills can help you to move into a new job or into new types of work. You can build up skills through all sorts of activities jobs, projects, volunteer work, hobbies, sports, virtually anything. Functional CVs If you are looking at moving into a different field or there are gaps in your employment history, a functional CV may be more appropriate. It also allows you to give greater emphasis to less recent experience, group together experience gained from several different roles or highlight skills from unpaid work experience, e.g. school, voluntary, community activities. Functional CVs also allow you to emphasise the transferrable skills that you have developed and used in other settings. Use 4-5 skill areas as functional categories and list them in order of importance for the job you are applying for. Underneath the functional categories, give a summary of your career history, including dates, employers and job titles. You may wish to explain in your covering letter the reason for stressing certain experience in your CV in this way. General Hints and Tips Do try and keep your CV to two pages. Any longer and you have probably included too much detail. Any shorter and you ll leave the reader guessing. Check your spelling, paying particular attention to names. As presentation is key, ensure that you use consistent formatting throughout and that the formatting you have used will not be lost once ed. Ask a friend or colleague to read through your CV before submission. If they have any questions it may mean you have missed out something key! They can also help you to proof read the document. Include all your contact details: home address, home or work telephone number, mobile telephone number and . Remember, your CV will be part of the selection process so it needs to show you in your best light. Your CV needs to look as good, if not better, than other applicants so make sure you include everything that you can to ensure you impress the reader! Ensure your CV includes honest and accurate information you will be questioned about the content during interview so be prepared for this. Make sure you tailor your CV to the role you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for Finance vacancies, concentrate on your relevant experience and skills in that area and keep the information about other roles to a minimum. If you have a full, clean driving licence say so.

5 It is useful to quote memberships of professional institutions, particularly those that require study, competence assessment or accreditation and continuing development. Formatting Go for a common typeface such as Arial, preferably 12 pt Be brief; use short sentences and short paragraphs Avoid coloured paper use white, pale grey or ivory paper of high quality Keep the look simple Make sure page breaks are in the appropriate place Avoid too many lines and boxes Use bold type for section headings Use bullet points to clearly emphasise key points Language Use tenses consistently when describing your career history Avoid abbreviations, jargon and company-specific terminology Make sure the spelling and grammar are correct throughout Avoid using personal pronouns (I, me, we etc.) Avoid narrative or block text when describing role accountabilities and achievements bullet points are much clearer and easier to read Choose the strongest action verb possible to describe role accountabilities and try to begin each sentence with one of these words If applying for jobs on-line, you need to include as many keywords as possible, which the computer will recognise when searching for suitable candidates. Draw up a list of keywords (skills, traits, qualities etc.) from the advert and job description and also by looking at other adverts for positions similar to the one you are looking for

6 Q&A s What do I do about gaps in my work history? Give a positive statement about what you were doing during that time; don t apologise. What if I have little or no experience in my chosen field? Use a functional CV and state experience and achievements that demonstrate the use of transferable skills which can be applied in your chosen field. Use your covering letter to emphasise these skills. What if almost all of my work experience is with one employer? Show positions of increasing responsibility and the advancement you made in each job to demonstrate your progression up the ladder. What if I have done lots of different jobs and don t want to be seen as a job hopper? Choose a functional CV format which emphasises skills and achievements by combining jobs into related groups and plays down dates. What if I lack formal qualifications? Think of equivalents, list on-the-job training that is relevant and any relevant seminars or workshops attended. Also use your covering letter to stress your qualification by experience and, if relevant, your commitment to studying towards the necessary qualifications.

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