Here’s how to make your CV shine – and take the first step to achieving your ideal career.
10 Steps to Creating the Perfect CV
1. Make it easy on the eye. Hiring managers loathe having to trawl through incomprehensible CVs. So much so, that the average CV is examined for a mere eight seconds before being tossed in the bin. Make sure your CV keeps them hooked by placing key highlights at the top, and making sure all information is clear, correct and laid out in an easy-to-access way.
2. Keep it snappy. Two pages is the recommended maximum for CVs. However, it is acceptable to go to three pages if you’ve got some genuinely useful information to share. When detailing your career history, give priority to your most recent, relevant roles. If you’ve had plenty of experience in the industry, don’t bother detailing what you did when you were in your early twenties. No one needs to know that you did a few months’ shelf-stacking in a local supermarket – unless it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for!
3. Blow your own trumpet. Now is not the time to be shy. Employers actively want to know why they should hire you, and it’s your job to tell them. Your CV should emphasise:
• When you’ve added value to a company (e.g. made money, secured more business, successfully mentored teams etc.)
• When you’ve shown creativity and innovation
• Any awards or accolades you’ve received
• Any training courses you’ve taken part in
• All relevant qualifications
4. Get numerical. In CVs, woolly estimates don’t work. Your future employer may not relate to certain KPIs used in your current position, but everyone has a firm understanding of monetary values and volume. It never hurts to compare figures to the company / market in general, to give some perspective (for example, “I’m responsible for generating 60% of the new business for the company…”).
5. Show your responsibilities. Be wary of cutting and pasting the responsibilities section from previous job role specifications. Chances are, if your role is universal or well-known in this industry, your prospective employers will be familiar with what it entails already. Instead, focus on topline responsibilities – those that make your role a little different. Concentrate on your successes and achievements within the role. If you look after a certain area of the business, let hiring managers know the breadth and scale of the operation. This might include (for example) how many reports you have, or your P&L responsibility. Essentially, it’s your job to make them realise how responsible and trusted you are within your current company!
6. Ditch the jokey email address. It’s amazing how many people still think it’s a good idea to include a silly email address in their CV. One word. Don’t. It takes literally five minutes to set up a new, professional email account.
7. Give it pizzazz. Don’t be afraid to include a bit of personality. Tell employers about your interests. After all, the hiring manager may be every bit as much into bungee-jumping / stamp collecting as you are; which immediately gives you common ground.
8. Add some colour. Humans respond to visual stimulus, so any opportunity to add a bit of colour will help your CV to stand out. Add company logos to your job history, or add a bit of colour in the header. Even a touch of colour can lift your CV from the pile of other CVs on the hiring manager’s desk.
9. Be engaging. Your personal profile should be concise, interesting and should immediately resonate with your future employers. Keep it to a maximum of three lines, and avoid making it all about you; stick to what you can offer them, rather than what you’re personally looking for! Avoid clichés and buzzwords wherever possible, and include real-life scenarios if appropriate. Trust us, most hiring managers are really sick of reading about ‘results-driven’ candidates…
10. Aim to be transparent. In life, a little bit of honesty never hurt anyone. The same is true with CVs. If you’ve got career gaps, don’t try to conceal the fact. Address them openly and honestly, detailing why you took time out. If you’ve moved around a fair bit in your career, explain why. This will help build trust, which matters when you want to get the job. Get polishing!
Lastly, it’s imperative to check the document before sending it out. It goes without saying that it should be free from spelling and grammar mistakes. Share your CV with some trusted friends before applying for the job – they may spot some errors that you’ve missed.