Tips and tools to creating a winning CV that will get you noticed.
Your CV is your gateway to the universe of career opportunities and investing in the right focus, structure, phrasing and syntax at this early stage of the job search process will reap tremendous rewards in opening doors to the next critical stage: the Interview. Below we have identified some of the key factors that differentiate a successful CV from those that never make it through the search.
A good CV shows clarity of vision. The jobseeker knows what it is they are looking for and has clearly highlighted what attributes/ skills/ experience they have that will enable them to succeed in that direction. You will win the interview primarily on the strength of your skills/experience and their direct relevance to the job at hand. Vague/ fuzzy statements in the Title, Objectives or Experience sections will detract from the impact of your CV and raise questions rather than opening doors.
Exaggerated claims on CVs are easily detected, if not immediately, then upon reference checks at a later date in the process. To avoid embarrassment, you should be as factual and accurate as possible. Ommit details that don’t make you look good at the CV stage (eg. a less than attractive GPA or the fact that you were terminated from a job) but do not present facts that cannot be substantiated. Do highlight your areas of strength in the best possible light (hobbies/ interests/ skills can be embellished); however, do not provide glaring misrepresentations.
The structure of the CV is critical and a sound CV follows these simple guidelines
1. Clearly defined and catchy objective that makes an employer want to read more
2. Work experience arranged in chronological order to clearly show career progression with strongest and most recent positions getting the most attention. Job descriptions should be concise and impressive using strong action verbs and data to support claims wherever possible.
3. Education and Qualifications should be organized to maximise impact and relevance. Wherever possible, they should show a commitment to career development eg. ongoing courses, seminars, workshops related to job.
4. Achievements and affiliations details will highlight professional roles above and beyond direct job responsibilities (eg. Active Member of European Entrepreneur’s Association, Chairman of University Student Union etc.) This area is particularly important for fresh graduates who do not have a lot of direct job experience.
The most impressive content will barely get gleaned over if the general layout is not user-friendly. Some simple rules:
1. Avoid clutter.
2. Use short sentences and bullet points wherever appropriate.
3. Headings and dates should be clearly differentiated from other text
Avoid the jargon and flowery anecdotes. Deliver the message in the most concise, impressive and relevant light. A successful CV will be well-researched and will be honed down to contain many of the exact skills and attributes an employer has utilized in his job search description.
Keep in mind that an employer is hiring a human being not a robot. Do include skills, hobbies and qualifications that will make your CV stand apart from the crowd and may endear you to the employer. Most employers will sift through countless CVs while trying to weed out Interview candidates so make your CV interesting and memorable.