CV Tips

CV Writing

After 25 years in the recruitment business, I must have read 1000’s of CV’s. I have clear understanding of what I am looking for when selecting candidates to interview and have provided you with some tips on what makes a CV readable and relevant.

WHAT IS A CV?

  • A marketing tool
  • A brochure on you
  • An accurate history of you career
  • An opportunity for you to highlight your achievements
  • A invitation for further discussion (i.e. an interview)
  • A basis for your application forms
CONTENT – the information that should be contained in your CV
HEADING:
  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone Numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Obvious, you would think!
WHAT ELSE SHOULD BE ON THE FIRST PAGE?
  • A brief Profile
    Try and avoid using the same old words – professional, committed, enthusiastic, successful, excellent
    Don’t be afraid to use strong words – exceptional, highest standards, passion, innovative.  Keep it brief – no more than four lines ideally.  When recruiters are faced with large numbers of applications, they will speed read on the first trawl
  • Key Qualifications that relate to the role you are applying for – e.g. Member of the Institute of Fundraising
  • Key Skills – again that are relevant to the role (for example no need to put that you have Grade 8 Violin unless you’re applying to the London Symphony Orchestra), Use bullet points, List the skills that you have demonstrable experience and knowledge of, computer packages you have worked with, Communication skills – e.g. public speaking,  engaging with corporate supports, volunteer liaison, writing publicity materials etc
  • Your current employment – very important to get this on the first page.

Include –

  • Dates of employment
  • Name of the Organisation you are employed by and possibly the Logo which adds colour and grabs attention,
  • A brief description of the organisation – i.e. charitable cause, number of employees, annual income, geographical area covered, Your job title and who you report to, Which staff report to you, Key responsibilities – bullet pointed
  • Key achievements using measurables and explanation of how achieved eg increased income from community fundraising from £250k in 2008 to £500k in 2009 by implementation of open gardens scheme – it is important to be honest about whether you were solely responsible for this or as part of a team
  • Details about why you want to leave?  The jury is still out on whether you should include this,
PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT
  • Use the same guide for current employment but using less information the further you go back.
  • Make sure you cover any gaps in your employment to prevent the worse being imagined – were you in prison?!
EDUCATION
  • This should not be confused with professional development (see first page)
  • Personally I feel details about your education should be left to the last page, although you might want to put mention of a degree on the first page.
  • Include details of your school/college and the qualifications you obtained at each.
  • Don’t feel you need to share details about your primary school education, it’s probably not relevant.
OTHER INTERESTS
  • This is actually quite important, you would be surprised by how much attention this gets from both recruiters and prospective employers.
  • Include information about hobbies and interests and any positions of responsibility in those areas  – eg Swimming Club Captain
  • Include information on things like volunteering,  PTFA etc
  • Avoid things like – socialising with my friends, family life and eating – we all do those!
APPEARANCE 
  • There is nothing more daunting to a recruiter than a CV with large swathes of text, especially if you have a great pile of CV’s to get through.
  • Use bullet points wherever you can – it breaks things up and makes it easier to read.
  • Use a clear and crisp font – calibri or ariel are good.
  • Add colour – either by using logos or in your bullet points – it shows imagination and makes your cv stand out. How you set out your CV says more about you than you realise.
COVERING LETTER/SUPPORTING STATEMENT
  • An opportunity to demonstrate you have read and understood the job description, address the requirements of the role highlighting you relevant experience
  • An opportunity to demonstrate you have researched the organisation
  • An opportunity to communicate your enthusiasm and desire to work for the organisation.
APPLICATION FORMS
  • Many organisations want you to complete an application instead of sending a cv – this is usually to tie in with their Equal Opportunities policy
  • However, once you have got your CV prepared you can cut and paste the information required.
  • There is usually a section asking why you want to work for the organisation or what you feel you can bring to the role, see this as an equivalent to the covering letter.
AND FINALLY ……..
  • A CV is a living document
  • Keep it accurate but tailor it to the role you are applying for – eg refer to specific experience/achievements relevant to their requirements.
  • Imagine you were the employer reading your CV, what would you be looking for