Having an eye-catching CV is key to any job search but it can be daunting to put pen to paper. You may be fresh out of education and starting from scratch or a seasoned pro when it comes to updating your CV. Wherever you are in your career journey, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are a few rules of thumb to consider.
In this blog, I thought it would be helpful to go back to basics and review these ‘rules’ in more detail.
What should you include on your CV?
1. Personal Information
It may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed by how many people forget to add their all-important personal details to the top of their CV. Whilst you don’t need the heading ‘Curriculum Vitae’, your name and how a recruiter or hiring manager can get hold of you are essential!
As I discussed in my ‘beat the bots’ blog, many large companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen CVs for suitability. Some of these systems struggle to read information if it’s in the header and footer sections, so make sure you include your personal information in the main body of your document.
2. Personal Profile
This appears at the top of your CV, so you need to start strong! Your personal profile is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how your skills and attributes make you stand out from the crowd, what you can bring to a role, and your ambitions. Remember not to waffle on. Aim for one paragraph covering the main points.
3. Skills & Achievements
How has your education and experience given you the skills to be a successful candidate? This section gives you the opportunity to demonstrate this, with examples, so that the hiring manager can see how you would fit into their organisation.
4. Work Experience
List all your RELEVANT work experience. Remember to put the most recent first and work backwards.
List your educational experience, qualifications and grades, starting with your most recent. If you’re a new graduate or you don’t have much work experience, use this section to emphasise how your educational background and achievements demonstrate you’re the right fit for the role.
This section isn’t mandatory but if you have hobbies or interests that back up your skills and help you stand out in a crowded field, then add them at the end of your CV.
If you’ve taken a break to look after young children, retrain, or you’re looking for a career change, it is always helpful to highlight this extra information on your CV.
The dos and don’ts of writing an eye-catching CV
Avoid over-used clichés, which can quickly irritate a recruiter or hiring manager and risk you ‘blending in’. Replace wishy-washy keywords such as ‘able to work in a team as well as independently’ with dynamic keywords such as ‘proactive and ‘innovative’. Prove you have these attributes by supporting them with real-life accomplishments.
There are hundreds of different CV templates out there, but my advice is to keep it simple and use your energy to make sure the content is spot on instead. A simple template is also a winner when it comes to the Applicant Tracking Systems! Keep your CV short and concise – two sides of A4 is plenty.
3. Tailor your CV to each role
After completing your CV, you may breathe a huge sigh of relief and assume that’s it, job done! However, every role you apply for will be different, so reviewing and tailoring your CV each time will help it meet the requirements of each position.
4. Keep it up to date
Creating a good CV takes time, so treat it with some love and respect and keep it up to date. When you complete transferrable training or gain new experience, remember to add these. This means that when you need to apply for a new job, you’ve done a lot of the hard work and you won’t forget any useful information!
Want to find out more about how to write an eye-catching CV?
For more information about how to write the perfect CV, contact me to book a free, no-obligation 30-minute phone consultation.