What are the key ingredients for a really good CV? What makes a CV stand out from the crowd? How do employers sort the wheat from the chaff? These are all good questions and I will attempt to give you the answers.
A really good CV has several qualities, which attract a potential employer’s eye: It is really well laid out with lots of white space in between sections and around the margins. The CV has clear headings throughout which clearly divide the CV up into parts that are easy to follow. It has bullet pointed lists of responsibilities, skills, achievements, qualifications etc. wherever possible as they’re easy to read and follow.
The CV should be the right length, in other words not too long and not too short. It should have enough information to describe you, your strengths, skills and achievements but without going overboard and giving too much information – I have seen 20 page CVs in the past!
It shouldn’t be too short though, because it will leave an employer none the wiser about you and what you can offer them. The rule of thumb is that if your working or education career is not that long, say less than five years, you may be able to get away with writing a one page CV. In fact one page CVs are becoming increasingly common and popular as employer’s time and attention spans grow shorter.
If you’ve had a few jobs and your career is more than five years old or you’ve had a long career in education studying a degree, masters and perhaps a Phd, then you probably need a two page CV, just so that you can fit everything in and do yourself justice.
The order of things on your CV is also really important and depends on what kind of job you are looking for, what industry and how fresh out of school or university you are.
Obviously your contact details go at the top of the first page and these days that means your name, email and phone number, not necessarily your address. Then usually a ‘profile’ summarising you, your career history, strengths and qualities and what you plan on doing next with your career and this should be no more than about six lines. Remember, brevity and getting to the point without waffle is key as employers are notoriously fickle and short of time, especially these days.
Next depends on what your profession is, what industry you’re in and what job you are applying for next. If you’re in an industry where qualifications are paramount, such as education or health care, then I would suggest putting your qualifications next because usually they are a pre-requisite to getting a job in those industries.
If your job is not dependent on you having the necessary qualifications and experience is valued more, then you need to put your employment history first, followed by your education, qualifications and training afterwards.
In other words, putting things on your CV in order of importance and relevance to the job and to the employer’s needs.
Things like interests can go at the end, if at all, there is a tendency these days for people to leave interests off as employers become more focused on job suitability rather than what makes you ‘interesting’.
There’s no need to include details of your referees because at this point of the job application process, you don’t need to provide them but merely point out the fact that you have references. The employer will ask for them if and when they are planning on making you a job offer.
Don’t put things that are irrelevant to your ability to do the job or give an employer an excuse to discriminate against you (it does happen!), so no age or date-of-birth, no mention of race, religion, whether you are married or not, if you have children, have a disability, your sexual orientation, whether you smoke, or anything else that frankly is none of the employer’s business.
If you’re not sure whether your CV cuts the mustard, then send it to a professional CV writer such as myself for a free CV review, or if you would rather your CV be professionally written, employ the services of a CV Guru.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, make sure that it counts!
The next step, if your CV is successful in getting you short-listed, is preparing for the job interview and answering those pesky job interview questions. For more help read my blog on job interviews. And if you are wondering where are all of the jobs in the first place and need help on that, read my blog 'Job Search - Where are the jobs?'
If you want to read a more detailed blog article about writing a good CV, then go to my other blog post called amazingly enough 'Writing a good CV'.
*Send your CV for a FREE CV review now - what have you got to lose?