There is no right or wrong way to write a CV but there are some common sections you should cover. These include: personal and contact information; education and qualifications; work history and/or experience; relevant skills to the job in question; specific project experience; own interests, achievements or hobbies; and some references.
Up to Date Contact Details
There is nothing more frustrating for a recruiter, than having old contact details for a candidate they wish to get in touch with. Include as many ways of reaching you as possible in your contact information. Home telephone, cell phone, international cell phone, all e-mail addresses used, Skype etc. Keep this up to date at all times.
Presentation is Key
The quality and presentation of your CV is vital when selling yourself. The appearance of your CV is an indication to a prospective employer of the type of person you are. The most effective way to present your CV is with bullet points, bold headings and underlining. Use headings and sections to signpost your reader to the information they are seeking. Be consistent in how you organise information; for example, providing both educational and employment details in reverse chronological order.
Keep it Punchy
Employers spend, on average, just 8 seconds looking at any one CV, and a sure-fire way of landing yourself on the no pile is to send them your entire life story. Keep it punchy, to the point, and save those niggly little details for the interview. Always remember the CV hotspot – the upper middle area of the first page is where the recruiter’s eye will naturally fall, so make sure you include your most important information there.
We’ve all done it. Whizzed the same CV out to lots of employers to save time… Stop! Take the time to change your CV for each role that you apply for. Research the company and use the job advert to work out EXACTLY what skills you should point out to them. Include specific projects that relate to the employers industries. They will appreciate the obvious effort.
Don’t Leave Gaps
We are a cynical bunch and leaving obvious gaps on your CV immediately makes employers suspicious – and they won’t give you the benefit of the doubt. If you’ve been out of work it can be a worry but just put a positive spin on it. Did you do a course, volunteer work or develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork or project management? If so, shout about it!
Keep it Current
You should keep your CV up-to-date whether you’re looking for a job or not. Every time something significant occurs in your career, (new project, promotion etc.) record it so you don’t later forget something that could be important.
Make it Keyword Friendly
Read the Job Description thoroughly, and try to understand the main experience & skills the employer is looking for. Then include the keywords in your CV. Job titles and job buzzwords will help a recruiter pick out your CV from the pile. Not every recruiter is technical – so they rely on their matching skills. Including keywords relating to specific projects, industries & skills is vitally important.
The Error of Your Ways
Employers DO look for mistakes on CVs and if they find them, it makes you look really bad. With most employers experiencing massive volumes of applicants right now, giving them the excuse to dismiss your application because of avoidable errors is not going to help you secure an interview. If you’re unsure then use a spellchecker and ask someone else to double-check what you’ve written.
References should be from someone who has employed you in the recent past and can vouch for your skills and experience. If possible, have previously written references ready. 2 or 3 references are sufficient.