To land your dream job, you first need to secure an interview, and the only way to do that is through your curriculum vitae aka. your CV.
While you might ooze charm and charisma in real life, you must first impress the recruiter with a written overview of yourself, educational background and your work experience; something that many candidates struggle with.
CV writing is as subjective as a piece of art, and different CV layouts and formats will impress different recruiters and headhunters. However, some basic CV template principles that you should carry across any good CV.
If you are writing your CV from scratch or tweaking the frame that you have been crafting for some time, here are crucial elements to include and nuggets of advice that will help you to create a professional CV that will catch any recruiters attention.
Make Your Personal Statement Count
Your personal statement is at the top of your CV, it is the first thing recruiters see, and therefore it is your first chance to sell yourself and make first impressions count.
Your personal statement should be four of five sentences, that perfectly encapsulates who you are, what you can offer the company and your goals for your next role. You should identify your main skill or unique selling point, and emphasise this throughout the introductory paragraph.
In the short, punchy paragraph, you should include a sentence about your goals. Not how many pets you want, which car you want to drive or a four-bedroom house, but a small snippet of your career goals and where you would see yourself in 1, 3 or 5 years working in the company. Hiring managers like people with ambition, so really think hard about where your hard work can get you on the career ladder.
Use the STAR Approach for Experience
The STAR method is a behavioural-based method of interviewing. When describing specific experience or results, you must discuss the Situation, Task, Action and Result to provide a detailed explanation of what you achieved and how you achieved this.
The STAR method should be exercised fully during the interview process, but it is worth implementing the approach throughout your CV. When using bullet points to describe your role in each position, you should always try to briefly explain your duties and accomplishments using STAR.
Customise your CV to the Company and the Role
There is nothing that would be appreciated more than customisation. Recruiters and hiring managers want to see you have taken the time to research their company, fully understand the role, and that you want to work for THEM, rather than sending a batch-made CV to anybody who is hiring. After you have fully researched and come to terms with the company’s ethos, you should re-jig your personal statement to suit, as well as tweaking the experience that you have highlighted to suit that specific role on offer.
The Basics are Equally as Important
It’s all well and good focusing on your goals, achievements and education, but if the basics are lacking, it might be a wasted effort. You should pay extremely close attention to spelling and grammar, both need to be impeccable. This isn’t to ensure that they are hiring the best spellers on the market, but it highlights your attention to the smaller details.
Make sure your contact details are present and noticeable. A hiring manager isn’t going to spend too long finding out how they can contact you. If you impress but your contact details are not on your CV, they won’t waste time hunting you down online, it’s unlikely you’ll make it to the next step. In bold at the top of your CV, you should include your name, phone number, email and address.
Hiring managers will also want a brief insight into you as a person, beyond your education and experience, so include a small section on your interests away from work. Where possible, still try and make this relevant to your job. For example, if you are a journalist, mention your keen interest in reading, current affairs, a personal blog etc.
Keep it Concise and Focus on Facts
The ideal CV length is two full pages, but if you are applying for your first job out of school this obviously might be considerably less. In this instance, the most important thing to remember is to not bulk it out just for the sake of it. Make sure your CV only contains factual information and information that is only relevant to the job. Having a one-page CV of relevant achievements is far more important that a two-page CV template of empty words.
In contrast to this, if you have ten years of working experience, you need to condense down this information and pinpoint the most crucial and impressive achievements for the role.