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What does your CV say about you?

Whether you're applying for your first job, a few years into your career or a senior manager with lots of experience under your belt there are a number of traps which you can fall into with your CV. Seeking a second opinion from someone who has a lot of recruitment experience can help set yours apart.

Here are my tips for making your CV stand out - and in a positive way.

One size doesn't fit all

Your CV needs to be tailored to each and every job you apply for. If not, you are leaving it to chance that the recruiter will spot that skill or knowledge they are looking for lurking somewhere in your CV. If you are provided with a job description and/or person specification, this will help you to shape your skills, knowledge and experience around what the organisation is seeking.

Your unique qualities

Put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter sifting through tens, maybe hundreds of application forms or CVs. What makes yours stand out?

Most of the CVs I have seen tell me little about the person, their strengths, their passions and most of all their achievements (apart from academic ones). Most give bland descriptions of the jobs and the responsibilities they've held.

Employers are looking for what candidates achieved in their jobs - this is what sorts the men from the boys. Avoid woolly words like contributed to, assisted or worked on and use specific words to describe those achievements like wrote, designed, developed or managed.

The further into the past the less detail you need to give

One CV I saw gave more information about a 2 week temporary job 10 years ago than the person's current job that she'd been in for several years. My interpretation was that she did not enjoy her job and hankered after the type of work she had done in the temp job many moons ago. Not a positive impression!

Think critically about the impression your CV will create

Leave out passport numbers, names of spouse and children, wacky hobbies. Include dates and if you've got a gap, explain it. Check whether the things you are saying support your application rather than detract from it.

Avoid jargon

Yes, you know what a wonderful PDR you had and how this fitted in with the TALENT programme, but will your reader? Steer clear of acronyms and just give the full version.

Use writing your CV to prepare for the interview

As you say something in your CV, think about how you will demonstrate that it is the case if asked a question about it at interview. If you say that you are able to work with minimal supervison, think of a time when you did this successfully. This sounds obvious, but believe me, it isn't!

Make your CV visually appealing

Again this sounds obvious - but do lay it our clearly with a decent size font (10 or 12) and check for any spelling mistakes. Aim for a maximum of 2 or 3 pages - the shorter the better.

Covering letter

Use this to make it easy for the recruiter to select you for interview. Highlight 3 to 7 things you have or you've done that meet their needs and demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for the job.

These tips will give you the best chance of securing that next step - an interview. Good luck! 

What CV tips can you share that have worked for you?





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