It’s very easy to feel completely overwhelmed at the thought of writing a CV, especially if you have been working for any length of time. How can you possibly fit your entire career onto two pages?
But don’t panic. Most recruiters don’t want the War and Peace version of your CV. What we want is the relevant information for the role that you are applying for.
You don’t need to write your entire life history. Think of your CV as a sales document, almost a sales proposal. The aim of your CV is to tell the recruiter that you have the right qualifications and experience to do the role that they are recruiting for.
Here are the Dos and Don’ts of CV Writing:
Put your jobs in reverse order starting with the most recent. The most recent is usually the most relevant. Include the company name and your job title. Don’t leave us guessing.
Include a one line description of what each company does.
Bullet point your duties. Bullet points are easier to read and you can also focus your experience on the role that you are applying for without needing a total rewrite of your CV.
Include skills and accomplishments in job descriptions and quantify them. Percentage growth figures, achievements against target and volume of sales all read well and get attention. Shout about your achievements. Top salesman? Then say so.
Include dates on all jobs and explain any gaps in employment. Leaving dates out suggests that you have something to hide.
Put in a personal profile at the start of the CV that identifies your strengths. These are the skills that move with you from job to job and the skills that will help you to do your new job effectively so make sure that the profile is relevant to the role that you are applying for.
Put education towards the end of the page. Unless you are a recent graduate applying for graduate positions, your degree should come after your work experience. Include vocational training courses that you have been on and any further education as these demonstrate that you update your skills and knowledge.
Write long paragraphs. Someone reading a CV wants to be able to quickly pick out the key points. Bury then in a paragraph of text and you will quickly lose their interest.
Make your CV too long. Two pages is the accepted length. Three at a push.
Forget to proof read, spellcheck and proof read again. Better still get someone you trust to read it through. You can be blind to mistakes when proof reading your own work.
Leave the recruiter guessing. Make sure that you explain what a role involved. Job titles in one company can mean something completely different in another.
Copy paragraphs from one job to another even if they were similar. Repetition looks lazy and is likely to make the reader stop reading
Leave any questions unanswered. Make sure that you explain any gaps, give reasons for leaving different roles.
Remember that when you are applying for roles that have been advertised you are one of dozens of CVs landing on the recruiter’s desk. They want to whittle that pile down as quickly as possible so make sure that your CV sells you to the best of your ability and doesn’t give them an excuse to reject you at the first read.