how to make a CV = an Interview
Firstly – ‘Things to include’:
- Contact Details - full postal address, postcode, mobile number and e-mail – so many people are not including these vital details and it is making it impossible for agencies and organisations to know where candidates are looking for work but also to register CVs on their systems. It also makes it impossible to find candidates again when searching for other roles in specific locations (most candidate tracking systems work on postcodes to find candidates once registered)
- Languages – make sure you include all the languages that you speak and the level of ability
- Qualifications – if qualifications are a requisite of the job then ensure those ones are clearly outlined at the top of your CV e.g.: degree, six sigma, prince2 etc...
Secondly – ‘Things not to include or do’:
A photo – Linkedin can provide this information, but it doesn’t need to be on your CV
- DON’T save your CV as a PDF or an Infographic, they may look good, but they can’t be used by agencies and often won't upload to company career sites – send your CV as a word document and keep the formatting simple.
- Do not include the word “seasoned” it sounds like you are a steak! It’s a very dated phrase and there are much better words to use! (versed, experienced, knowledgeable, skilled, practiced, qualified, expert, skilful etc..)
- CVs should never be written in third person; it is dated and not considered ‘good CV etiquette’. Use first person and choose the present or past tense to showcase the most important and relevant information to your employment goals.
How to ensure your CV remains in the “Yes” pile:
Prospective employers may spend as little as six seconds looking at your CV to assess your abilities and to match those abilities to their job opening. In those six seconds, they do not read every word on the CV.
Instead, employers look at the overall format – is it easy to read? Does this resume contain the relevant information to their particular field? Do the first bullets at the top of the CV match their job description?
Appealing - If the CV is not appealing to the eye, you will turn off the prospective reader immediately. No one wants to read a CV that is formatted with tiny font and no white space! White space allows the eye to rest between reading and absorbing the content and it acts as a clue to important information the employer should read with care. At the same time, a CV with too much white space will make it look like you have no relevant experience or skills to offer the employer. Find a happy medium – keep the CV readable and clean, while filling the space.
Grammar, Spelling & Punctuation – In this day and age there should be NO excuses, but it still happens and more often than you would expect! These kinds of mistakes can get even the most qualified candidate’s CV thrown into the “no” pile! Remember, the CV is an excellent way to demonstrate to potential employers or recruiters what type of employee you are, your attitude to work, and most importantly your attention to detail!
After you review your CV carefully, have a friend – or two – review it again for you!
Length – it needs to cover all the relevant details in as concise a format as possible! The last 3 jobs are usually the most relevant, jobs details after that can be much briefer, but must include dates, employers and job titles. Make sure there are NO gaps and make sure it reads like a story of your life. An attention-grabbing Profile / Summary at the top and education at the bottom. Use bullet points for each position under the headings: Responsibilities and Achievements.
Your Summary / Profile Section - The most significant impact could be the introduction of a summary section. It can outline your professional profile, key skills and experience, and strengths and achievements. It may get you the interview, and at the very least the summary section should make an immediate impact on the recruiter; it gives you a chance to show off your personality and personal attributes.
Facts and Fiction
Although the CV is a sales brochure, you should never fabricate anything. In the end, you'll always be found out - maybe not now, but later when you are asked to deliver, and the process of psychometric testing and rigorous interviews can be very revealing!
Rather than being vague, leave problem areas out of the CV and focus on other allied skills that you are confident with. Honesty is a good virtue, valued by employers - discuss the problem area in the interview, but don’t dwell on it.
Always use figures to quantify your achievements, as this creates reassurance.
Make changing career direction a positive thing, placing emphasis on your determination and courage to make the move. Make your past sound relevant, and be open and honest. If you lack a track record in the job, emphasize your skills which apply to the role. Present your willingness to learn as an advantage.
Gaps in your CV? If you’ve taken time out to travel or pursue a different activity this is now perfectly acceptable. However in many eyes it is not a ‘proper job’ so won’t carry the same weight as more work based experience.
Too many short jobs? The employer will no doubt wonder about how long you’ll stay so help to answer this by including ‘reasons for leaving’ after each role, it will help to answer questions before they are asked and often mean you are considered without being initially declined for ‘job hopping’. Also if the roles are interim contracts, then again be clear on your CV what the length of contracts were.
Customising your CV
Each time you apply for a job, it's essential that your CV is customised to suit that position. Identify the key strengths which you can apply to the role, imagine the ideal person they are seeking and match your CV as closely as possible to a profile of that individual.
Proof-Reading and Checking
It's difficult to stress just how important this is! A small error, or misleading information, will seriously undo all your effort. At a professional level, grammar, spelling and punctuation should all be impeccable. Ensure that details, contact numbers and references are accurate (e.g. claiming to be proficient in Quark Express sounds dubious when the software package is actually called Quark Xpress!).
The spell checker on your PC is not enough. Get someone else to check it for you - you don't want to be a 'contact centre manger' instead of a contact centre manager!