When applying for a job it is vital that your CV represents your skills, qualities, education and experience in a professional and practical way while also portraying you in a positive light. Employers and recruitment consultants consider CVs as the ‘first impression’ of a prospective job seeker and as such, it is essential that your CV reads correctly, is relevant and appropriate in length. Provided your CV or ‘resume’ as it is also known, is descriptive, relevant to the job your applying for, and engaging for the reader, you are likely to have more success in getting your desired job.
Effective CV writing – what to do and what to avoid in drafting a CV
Advice on how to write a perfect CV will vary according to the person giving the advice, the experience of the applicant and the job they are applying for. However, the below mentioned points outline the most widely advised ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ when writing a professional CV.
- Positive wording and tone - Use positive wording throughout your CV to encourage the reader to read on. Examples of positive wording to use include; improved, initiated, increased, saved, created etc.
- Job related key words - Relevant key words are vital to immediately catch the reader’s attention. If the job requires the applicant to have an ACA qualification, you should write ACA clearly at the beginning of your CV.
- Key achievements first - Mention your most notable work related achievements at the beginning of the CV. It is not advised to mention your main strong points at the end as recruiters will read hundreds of CV’s per day and need a good reason to read through each CV to the end.
- Back up your achievements - When listing your achievements, provide evidence, figures and other statistics to back up your point. You should also detail how your achievements can benefit the company you are applying to.
- Check for mistakes - It is vital to spell check and grammar check your CV for mistakes and typing errors. Your CV acts as your first impression to the recruiter and if you have mistakes throughout the CV this will portray a negative image to the reader. It is also necessary to use the same tense throughout your CV, creating minimal confusion and ease of reading for the recruiter.
- New graduates - If you are a new graduate with little work related experience, you should detail your degree and modules with related achievements or awards you received.
- Contact details - Your name and contact details should be mentioned at the very beginning of your CV making it easy for the reader to contact you if required. Many recruiters will call or email you and so your e-mail address should be a formal and appropriate one.
- Professionally laid out - A CV is a professional and formal representation of you as a job seeker, it is therefore necessary to use suitable fonts, structuring white colored paper.
- Never lie on your CV - It is important to highlight your best features and achievements in line with your job application but it is never a good idea to expand the truth and include skills, qualifications, or achievements that you simply do not have.
- CV Length - Do not include everything in your CV, only list the most relevant and important points. A CV should be two pages long maximum, if your CV is any longer it is likely that it would not be read.
- Don’t list your personal details – Job seekers are never advised to include their age, gender, nationality or any other person information that may influence the decision of the recruiter in a prejudice way.
- Do not include your photo – although some countries around the world accept photos of applicants as standard procedure, many international countries including the UK do not expect applicants to send a photo and this will not positively influence the recruiter’s decision.
- Never use creative structuring – Most recruiters will upload your CV to their own system and this is particularly difficult when the CV is structured with tables, columns and exotic fonts.
- Never include sensitive information - The types of sensitive information that should never be included on a CV include bank account details, National insurance number or social security number, or home address.
- Avoid clichés –Although clichéd phrases are common, it is advised to stay away from typical phrases like ‘excellent team worker and motivated individual’ as this will make your CV very generic and similar to others. It is important to stand out from competitors.
- Do not include family information - Many job seekers tend to list their spouse and children’s information in their CV however this is completely irrelevant. It is only necessary to include information that is related specifically to the job you are applying for.
- Avoid jargon - It is not advised for job seekers to include abbreviations or other specialized terms and keywords that may confuse the recruiter.
- Do not mention problems – This extends to mentioning health related problems to any difficulties you have with agreeing to certain work related requirements and conditions.
- Never include your current salary or expected salary – It is important that job seekers to not list their expected salary or current salary rate as this may exclude the applicant from the recruitment process if the company sees another applicant is expecting a lower salary level.
- Never explain your reasons for leaving current job – This is not required at CV stage of the recruitment process and should only be mentioned when specifically asked by the recruiter.