Everyone at some point during their life has to write a Cv. This is probably one of the most important documents you will write as this is your first foot in the door with any potential employer and will create a first and potentially lasting impression. The idea of this document is to give any employer an overview of your recent experience and achievements and to show them how suitable you may be to the job you are applying for.
Firstly when preparing your Cv you must make sure you follow these basic rules . Preparation is key to making sure you have the perfect professional CV to impress any future employer.
- Do Proof read your CV check spelling and grammar. Any small spelling mistake will show up immediately and will point out to any employer that your do not have a good level of attention to detail.
- Don’t waffle, make sure your Cv contains neat concise statements or bullet points. Don’t use fifty words to fill space when 5 will do.
- Do highlight your achievements rather than your duties. When you list something on your Cv re-read it. Will an employer think “So What?” or will he be impressed by your unique achievements and see that your skills could be a benefit to his organisation.
- Don’t be vague or fluffy on your Cv make sure the information you include is short, specific and to the point.
- Do tailor your Cv to the specific role you are applying for. If you are applying for a sales role make sure you include your targets and what you achieved against them. Similarly if you are lawyer which cases have you recently acted upon and what was the outcome. Always think will my future employer be interested in this?
- Don’t break the two page role. Future employers really are not interested that you worked in The White Lion Pub when you were eighteen. Make sure all work experience on your Cv is pertinent to the job you are applying for.
- However do not purposely miss jobs off from your recent career history. This can create gaps which future employers will question and presume that you may have not been working
- Don’t use Clichés, three letter anachronisms, abbreviations or Americanisms. We all find them really irritating in real life and so do the majority of future employers.
- Don’t go overboard with the design of your CV, maintain the same font style and size throughout the document. Ensure current and previous employers and dates worked are highlighted in bold so that they are easy to identify. Black and white rather than colour is strongly recommended.
Make sure you have your address, contact numbers and email address correct. A small tying error may result in no-one calling you or emails never reaching you, meaning you could miss out on the perfect job!
The Layout and Content of your CV
Your Cv should be printed on A4 white good quality paper. Bold headers should ideally be in font size 14, with smaller subheadings in font size 12. The main text of the body should ideally be font size 11. The style you type it in is entirely up to you but I would recommend something professional such as Arial, Times New Roman or Verdanna. Nothing too fancy or flash as this will detract from the professionalism of your CV.
1. Contact Details.
Your name and address at the top of the page
Home telephone number (I would not recommend giving any of her current work numbers)
Mobile telephone number
2. Personal Details
Ideally this should include your date of birth (although you are not obliged by law to provide this) your marital status, whether or not you have a clean driving licence. If you have children feel free to add this information but again you are not bound by law to do so.
3. Personal Statement / Opening comments.
This is generally three or four lines which briefly describe your existing role, your current skill set, maybe one key achievement and some comments about your professional personality. If you have any specialist skills, for example are tri-lingual this should also be highlighted here.
4. Professional Experience.
You should start with your most recent employer first. You must list the dates you worked for your employer, who your employer was and what your job title was. If you held more than one position within this employer and were promoted then the different years you held these positions should also be listed, with a reason behind the subsequent promotion.
Give a very brief overview of the position you held within the firm, this should ideally be no more than one or two sentences. Then list your key achievements within each specific job you held. When writing each achievement down make yourself look at this objectively, would the employer be impressed with what you are writing down and would it be relevant to the role you are applying for? Make sure you highlight your achievements in a concise and positive manner. If you held budgetary or P&L responsibility include these figures. If your position carried targets make sure you include these targets and what you achieved against them. If you managed people include this too and how you specifically helped them progress their careers or address the issue or poor performance.
5. Professional Qualifications
This is the section where if you have gained a professional qualification relevant to your profession it is included. For example Lawyers would include the year they qualified and also the year they undertook their LPC their grade and the university where they achieved it.
6. Educational Qualifications
Which year it was taken between, where you went to University what academic subject you graduated in and the grade you achieved.
List the dates, the school, the subjects and the grades which you achieved.
GCSE’s / O Levels
List the dates, the school you attended and the overall grades you achieved. There is no need to detail all the subjects taken
7. Personal Achievements
This is where you list any sporting or personal achievements which you undertake in your spare time. You may be a keen marathon runner or a member of the local theatre and this should be detailed in this section. It is important to show you do have outside interests other than work, but be warned do be truthful and don’t elaborate too much as you may get caught out.
Chose two references ideally from previous employers. State who these are and list their contact details (making sure all spelling and detail is correct) Make sure you also state that these referees must not be contacted without prior consent.
Everyone at some point in their life will have a period of time where they have a “Gap” on their CV. Be honest about it and don’t try to hide these gaps. There may be a perfectly simple explanation behind the gap and it is best to be as straightforward as possible. Wherever possible to try and shed a positive light for example you may have gone travelling for a period of six months but were keen to learn different languages and cultures.
Finally whatever you do ask a friend or relative to proof read your CV before you send it to any agency or future employer. There may be a glaringly obvious spelling mistake which you have missed that they will be able to pick up on.
And one final handy hint if you are emailing your Cv check and double check that you have the correct address in your address bar don’t be like one unlucky candidate who sent it to his manager and his entire department!!