Rachel Wilson is our Senior Recruitment Operations Co-Ordinator and a part of her role is looking through 100’s of CV’s per month! So who better to advise you on how to polish your CV and get it in tip-top condition!
It may seem obvious to say, but your CV is the most important thing when trying to secure yourself a new role. It’s the document you use to sell yourself; to explain, with evidence, why you are the perfect candidate for the role you are applying for.
Take care of it and treat it with pride. This is your chance – sell yourself!
If you’re putting together a new CV (or your first one) and you’re thinking ‘I don’t think I need a profile, employers don’t read them’ STOP, take a break, and then come back and write a profile. Every CV should have one.
Your profile is a summary of all your experience; all the best parts of your CV combined into one neat paragraph. It’s there to grab your prospective employers’ attention – and, believe me, they do read profiles! Keep it snappy – key details, skills, clients you’ve worked with, the software you’ve used etc.
This is not a cover letter – do not write War and Peace! If you do, you’re in danger of the employer giving up and moving onto the next CV (a CV with a nice, snappy profile, I hasten to add).
As part of your profile (under a separate title if you wish), you should include specific key skills that add to your experience, and therefore, your desirability. Have you worked with PPC? Get it on there. Are you a whizz on Adobe Creative Suite? Add that straight away. Is working with Affiliates part of your current role? Add that here.
Remember that your CV is there to sell you; to make you desirable to future employers, and the profile is the very first thing they read. Grab their attention and make sure they don’t let go!
There are a few points to remember when writing your Experience/Employment section (I’d go for ‘Experience’ if it includes unpaid internships, work experience etc; and ‘Employment’ if it’s all paid work)
- Start with the most recent – this experience is the most relevant to the role that you’re applying for. Although employers may appreciate that you worked as a cashier in a corner shop when you were 16, it’s not really relevant to the here and now.
- Put as much detail as possible (without waffling on) – you need to cover everything you do/did in each role, especially if it is something that you would be doing in the role you’re going for
- I would suggest using bullet points to make it snappy and keep to the point.
- Make sure you give as much detail as possible to the relevant roles and just a few basic points to others. Older employment is still relevant as it shows how long you’ve been in work for (work ethic is extremely desirable to prospective employers) but the fact that you used make brews for meetings isn’t necessarily relevant to future roles.
- If you’re applying for a senior level role, chances are you’ve got a wealth of experience – just take a second and think whether you need details for all the roles – this is individual to each person, but remember, you don’t want to waffle. Consider summarising older employment so you just have a job title, employer and the dates.
- If you’ve had a lot of similar roles, consider going into detail about the roles and responsibilities on the oldest employment, and then writing shorter pieces for the others – saying ‘In addition to previously mentioned roles and responsibilities, I also…’ works well.
Your education is very important to your CV – especially if you have completed voluntary training/courses relating to the sector you work in (i.e. CIM courses).
As with the Employment section, you should start with the most recent.
With your degree, only include the names of relevant modules, if any at all. It’s also important to only include what grade you got if you did really well (1st, 2:1)
If you include your A Levels / GCSEs, don’t go into too much detail; just the number gained and grades will be sufficient. Of course, if your A Level subjects are relevant to your prospective employer, include them but otherwise it’s just not necessary.
Including an interests section is completely your own decision. If you have some particularly exciting/different interests, feel free to include them at the bottom; after all, it’s a conversation starter in the interview!
As a rough guide:
- Socialising – not interesting
- Trekking across The Amazon – interesting
Please remember, that your interests are personal and don’t have to be related to your career (but it’s fine if they are!)
- Try and keep your CV to no more than 2 pages (where possible)
- There’s no need to include a photograph – unless applying for a modelling job
- Be consistent – if you think a word is hyphenated, make sure it has a hyphen throughout; if you bullet point one employment, make sure you do it for all employment
- Most importantly: spell check, spell check, spell check – your laptop does this for you, as well as a grammar check, but you may want to get a friend to glance over it too.
At risk of repeating myself, it’s important to remember that your CV is the document you use to sell yourself. Make it positive, detailed and, most importantly, confident.
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