Step by Step guide to Jobseeking
Step Two - How to write the perfect CV
Your CV is the first information an employer will receive about you when you apply for a role, so is fundamental to improving your chances of securing your dream career move.
But jobseekers often neglect to spend the necessary time on their CV, meaning they miss out on potential career opportunities (or at very least, valuable interview practice).
The aim of a CV?
The aim of an effective CV is simple - to get you an interview with a prospective employer. Sound straightforward? Remember, an employer will potentially be looking at as many as 100 other CVs, so your CV needs to make you stand out from the crowd to ensure you make it to the interview.
Your CV needs to demonstrate that you are the right person for the job by highlighting:
- Specific skills you have to offer the employer
- The experience you have in the specific field
- The appropriate personal qualities for the role
- An understanding of the job requirements
What's more, given the volume of CVs an employer will receive, your CV should be:
- Short enough to read quickly and ideally no more than two sides of A4
- Clearly laid out in a logical order, with sufficient spacing and clear section headings
- Relevant for the role, demonstrating that you can fulfil the job role and are the right sort of person.
How to present your CV
Your CV is a reflection of yourself, so you need to ensure that it looks professional and well laid-out. In particular, you should:
- Choose a clear, professional typeface to ensure that your CV can be easily read (e.g. Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman)
- Avoid typos or spelling mistakes, not only by spell checking but by proof reading your own CV, or perhaps asking someone else to proof read it
- Organise your document into clear headings (work experience, education) so that these can easily be scanned
- Order your experience and education into reverse chronological order to highlight your most recent experience
In general, your CV should be clear enough for an employer to scan and understand quickly.
Writing your CV
When writing your CV, you should aim to sell yourself as much as possible to a potential employer. To achieve this, you should describe yourself in terms that make you sound positive and pro-active.
Common CV issues
Writing a CV can be a challenging task, with several potential issues. The most common CV issues are detailed below:
My CV would fill at least four pages -
In many cases, it will be difficult (if not impossible) to fit all of your skills, experience and education into a two-page CV. However, when putting together a CV you should bear in mind that, employers are most interested in skills and experience relevant for the job you're applying for.Shorter CVs will be easier to read and so your CV will be more likely to receive a proper appraisal.
I'm changing careers -
If you don't have much experience in a role or are changing careers completely, you should still try to highlight your skills to an employer. An effective way of achieving this is by including a ‘Career Objective' section. This section allows you to describe what you're looking to achieve in your next role, as well as highlighting any experience in a different field that might still be appropriate in the job you're applying for.
I've had gaps between jobs -
Many jobseekers at some stage in their life have had a gap in their career, for travelling, whilst changing jobs or for a range of other reasons. When including gaps on your CV, these can be covered in a number of ways, travel and voluntary work should be included in the your skills and experience and gaps in work can be covered up by specifying years only in work dates rather than months and years.
All of the jobs I've done have been very similar -
If you've undertaken very similar tasks and responsibilities in all of your jobs, you will probably want to avoid noting down all of these jobs on your CV. A solution to this is to simply provide a brief summary of your career history, with a more details section outlining the practical skills and experience you have gained from all of these.This section is a good opportunity to highlight the skills you have matching the requirements of the job you're applying for.
I don't have many qualifications -
If you don't have many qualifications to include in your CV, you can still emphasis skills and experience you have gained in your work or elsewhere. If a lack of qualifications is hindering your progress you could apply for part-time training, increasing your qualifications and demonstrating a willingness to learn to potential employers. Alternatively, you might want to consider increasing your experience by undertaking some voluntary work.