A CV is a crucial first step of any job application and as our listings show, there is a whole range of positions out there right now if you’re looking to start your career, or move on to the next level – but in a competitive jobs market, you need to stand out from the crowd.
Your CV not only summarises your work history, and the duties and responsibilities you’ve taken on, it’s also a chance for a little self-promotion. Here, with the help of specialist residential property recruitment agency TDM, we look at 10 ways you create a top-class CV.
Make it clear and concise
However long and successful your career has been, don’t make your CV a miniature novel. Keep it to two sides of A4 at most, unless the job you’re going for specifically asks you to include more details, such as a design portfolio. Use easy to read fonts, such as Arial, and make sure the document is well structured and that you are consistent in format. Don’t use long sentences and keep your vocabulary simple, except where you really need to use appropriate technical terms.
Include the essential info
There are a few things that every CV should have, no matter what the job is. Ensure you include contact information, education and qualifications, employment history, including the achievements you’ve made, and some personal information, such as your interests and hobbies. Where possible, give contact details for a couple of references, in case the agency or your potential employer want to check out some details from the CV.
Give appropriate contact details
Many of us have established email accounts and online profiles with nicknames that our friends and family might understand, but that might be considered inappropriate or rude by a potential employer. If that’s the case, set up a new account with a straightforward name to give a sensible and serious impression of yourself (for example firstname.lastname@example.org).
Keep everything up to date
Ensure that if anything changes, you update you CV accordingly. This may be your contact details, new qualifications and achievements and your job history as your career progresses.
Customise it to suit the role
Have the best basic CV you can, but if the job you’re applying for focuses on particular skills and experience, create a ‘one-off’ version that emphasises your strengths in those qualities. It’s worth doing a little research on the company offering the role, so you can see if there are things you’ve done that may be a priority to them. It doesn’t need a complete re-write, but perhaps give more attention to how your achievements relate to the job description, and use some ‘keywords’ and more technical terms if they relate to the role you’re after.
Spellcheck and proof read
When you think you’ve finished writing your CV, go through it at least once before sending it off. Look out for mistakes in spelling and grammar; make sure your sentences make sense; avoid repetition. Ideally, get someone else to have a look at it, too, to give an independent view of what you’ve written.
It may tempting be to be ‘creative’ in describing what you’ve done and achieved in the past, but don’t tell outright lies. If a simple background check (easier than ever in the 21st Century with sources such as Linkedin and Facebook) reveals that you’ve not been telling the truth, you could rule yourself out from consideration, or perhaps be dismissed from a new role very quickly indeed.
Avoid unexplained gaps
An unexplained gap in your work history could look rather suspicious, and they may think the worst about why you weren’t in a job. But, if you took a break to do something interesting – travel or voluntary work, for example, don’t be afraid to put those in.
Personal interests and hobbies
You need to give agents and employers a good impression of the kind of person you are, which is often reflected in the things you like to do in your spare time and topics you’re interested in. A common interest with an interviewer might bring out a less formal conversation and give you a chance to get the ‘real you’ across.
Secure some references
Just a couple of references could make all the difference. If you have a job history, they are a great way for potential employers to confirm your strengths through a third party. Even at the start of your career, you may have contacts from work experience or personal projects who will be happy to speak about your qualities, skills and achievements.