Learn How To Write a Good CV
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Write an effective CV and reap the rewards going forward.
Six seconds—that’s how much time a recruiter will typically spend scanning a CV before deciding whether they’ll contact you or not.
So, the pressure is on, in determining if your CV moves forward or if the recruiter moves on.
Bottom line … you want your CV to be as clear and targeted as possible, for the role you’ve applied for.
Recruiters go through dozens and dozens of CV’s and if yours doesn’t stand out, being legible and relevant, they will move on. It’s nothing personal, they have time constraints and delivery deadlines. The will focus on your cv if you Write an effective CV.
CV PITFALLS TO AVOID
A CV can be a couple of pages, but it can’t be a novel. It is unlikely that a recruiter will read from start to finish if it’s that long. The optimum length of a CV is 3-6 pages and absolutely no more than 7 pages. This is the first step to Write an effective CV. If you’ve had a lengthy career provide detail of the last 4-5 jobs and rather list the rest.
On the other hand, a Project Manager with 30 years’ experience, cannot provide a brief, one-page summary covering all of his experience. He needs to elaborate providing sufficient detail. Therefore, even though if your CV is too long or too short, candidates should focus on writing about their most relevant and most recent jobs. Older, less relevant jobs should also be included, but only listed (dates, designations, and organization).
When listing your previous positions always put the most recent job first. A recruiter will only keep reading if interested, so it is best to put your most recent job first – since it is likely to be the most senior, most relevant and one of most interest. This keeps the recruiter’s interest and encourages them to keep reading to find out about your other experience.
It is VITAL that you customize your CV to the role you’re applying for – so go through the job description carefully. Everything that is in the job description that you’ve previously done, needs to be clear and well explained on your CV. It needs to be in the applicable place in your own words with your own relevant experiences. This will help the recruiter make the connection between what you have done before and what they are looking for in their vacancy. Recruiters usually give you plenty of information on what they are looking for in their advert so make good use of this.
Jobs listed on a CV should run in reverse chronological order- most recent to oldest. Jobs ordered in any other way (example: by industry, then by time) can be very confusing to read and digest for a recruiter.
Nothing makes a recruiter pass on your CV quicker than bad formatting or over formatting. Make sure your CV is clearly laid-out in a simple readable style. Do not create a PowerPoint type CV with blocks and columns etc. It might be pleasing to the eye but it’s a nightmare to edit. Unless you are going for a highly creative job, do not be tempted to make your CV stand out. Especially standing out by making it too strange, or flamboyant.
Bright colors, multiple fonts, and a wild layout are unlikely to create the impression that you need. Avoid anything that is too personal such as colored paper, pretty images etc. A well-structured approach with a clear but limited number of different styles – such as header 1, header 2 and normal text is what is called for. Keep it easy to read. Bullet points are easier to scan through than an essay.
No dates (or just years).
Some candidates have been known to leave out the number of years they have worked at each job, so the recruiter has no idea how long they were employed in each instance. Just as bad is leaving out the months and only including the years. If someone worked “2008-2011,” did they work three years (January 2008 to December 2011) or less than two years (December 2008 to January 2011)?
Gaps in employment.
The jobs you have held should be uninterrupted and any gaps should be explained, e.g. in education, in hospital, traveling abroad. Give your “reasons for leaving” previous and current jobs.
With technical jobs, in particular, candidates need to include details of their skills. Especially if the job description calls for certain technical competencies and you have them. If not listed the recruiter can only assume you don’t have them and move on.
Don’t forget to list achievements, recruiters need to see where you’ve excelled/saved money / saved time / added extra value to an employer.
No project information.
If you’re an Engineer involved in various projects, ensure you have a project portfolio. The nature of the project (what type, size, duration) what you were personally involved in / responsible for in the project. Any lessons learned and any achievements need to be reflected.
Poor spelling and grammar.
This one so obvious, but so often overlooked. Use Spell Check to check for spelling mistakes in a CV. It’s vital when applying for a job that your CV contains no mistakes. I can’t emphasize that enough. No recruiter in their right mind will want to interview a candidate who appears not to be able to spell. Grammar is important as well. If you know you’re not the best when it comes to grammar, then be sure to ask someone to proof read your CV before you send it on to recruiters.
Odd fonts and font sizes.
Using a fancy font may seem like a good idea, but your CV must be readable. Nothing will make a recruiter skip your application quicker than having to try and read a vague or unclear CV. Also, avoid reducing the font size too much. This is a technique implemented by some candidates trying desperately to squeeze a long CV into fewer pages. Arial size 12 or Calibri size 12 are safest. (headings size 14 and bolded/underlined)
Non-standard file types.
Submitting your CV in PDF format might seem like a good idea. It is fine when forwarding a CV directly to an employer, but recruiters often need to make minor adjustments the CV. Recruiters add additional information, take out personal information and put the CV into their format. Microsoft Word format is ESSENTIAL.
Incorrect contact details
This happens more often than you realize … You’ve spent hours updating your CV and it’s finally ready to send out. Just double-check that your address, email, and phone numbers are up-to-date and correct, arguably some of the most important bits of information on a CV. It’s surprising how many people overlook this and could potentially miss out on a great job opportunity simply because a recruiter or employer cannot get in touch with them.
To embellish/exaggerate or tell white lies is not on. A recruiter or employer may catch you out and it’s not worth the trouble. Finding a job can be a job in itself but honesty is always the best policy.
When writing & describing your story for a potential employer it’s often tempting to exaggerate a little. A bit of extra information here and a bit of extra information there. It all makes you look better, right?
Contrary to what some people might tell you, however, there is no ‘fine line’ between emphasis and embellishment/lying – and YES! there is a huge difference! Everybody wants to put the emphasis on their most impressive achievements. Express those achievements in the way that sounds most impressive, but lying is a different matter.
Ensure that the detail in your CV is truthful – white lies can catch you out, ruining a perfectly good job application is unnecessary. The reason you’re applying for a job is that you know you could do it well and bring something to that company or organization. Being honest from the get-go will not only shine through it will also make you feel better. Especially when you get the job you want, and you know that it is something you have done or achieved.
Furthermore, whilst it might not feel like it, during the stress of job applications, interviews in an attempt of finding a job it is a two-way street. You want to be sure you end up with a job you can do and that you want to do – being dishonest reduces the chances of this being the case. And finding yourself in the wrong job is never good – and will do your CV and career no favors at all.
No cover letter.
Many people don’t realize the importance an employer puts on the covering letter you send. But if you think about it, this is the first thing that they see and read and it is the perfect opportunity to draw their attention to just how perfect you are for their job. So, you should always send a covering letter when sending out a CV. It will give an employer/recruiter a great first impression of you and what kind of employee you might be and help separate your application from that of others. A well put together neat cover letter says a lot about the sender so don’t just think about content but also layout and look.
Many candidates consider a cover letter as not very important and not worth the bother, but in reality, they’re just as important as your CV itself. This is where, on paper at least, you get to make your first impression.
The only time does not send a cover letter is if the recruiter requests in the job advertisement that you don’t send a covering letter. In that instance, you should respect their wishes. You’re trying to get a job not impress with your presentational skills and the main thing is to do what they ask you to do. This circumstance aside, you shouldn’t ever send a CV to a potential employer without a covering letter.
The purpose of a covering letter is to introduce yourself through a detailed short summary of where you add value. Highlight the key skill areas which qualify you for the job you’re applying for. It will also show the employer your level of literacy and presentational skills. You may be thinking, how difficult or important can a letter be but the truth is, in the recruitment process, every small bit of detail is magnified as it’s such a competitive field.
When writing your application cover letter, you do need to carefully focus on those elements that the recruiter has illustrated as important. Each cover letter needs individual attention and originality. In fact, a bland, generic cover letter can be quite damaging and completely off-putting.
If you do not have the time or inclination to create a quality letter you are probably better off saying nothing. Rather say “here is my CV. ” Let’s look at this in more detail: think about an advert that says they are looking for ABC experience. Now, this is something that you did the job before last and have a good example to support this. Your CV makes a mention of it but your cover letter which you use for all applications does not. Think about the wasted opportunity – and what might have happened if you had taken the time to put in a sentence to say that you not only have ABC experience but a solid example of success to support this.
Your CV along with a covering letter is your first point of contact with your potential future employer. If you Write an effective CV it may not be what gets you the job. It is certainly what gets (or does not get) you the job interview. And a job interview is the critical step to finding the perfect job. Summarize your relevant job experience and where you’d add value to the role you’ve applied for. Briefly list the requirements you meet, (you’re ticking the boxes) The recruiter can quickly see you have applicable experience and meet the requirements.