Work - Your CV
A Curriculum Vitae is a brief factual account of the main features of your life to date. Usually referred to as a (CV) most employers and recruitment agencies will require one, as part of selecting the right job for you. The main aim of having a C.V is to get you to the all-important interview! Prospective employers and recruitment agencies will deal with a large number of c.v.'s at any one time, so it is worth remembering that your C.V will need to stand out from the crowd to get you noticed.
The following section discusses areas to be considered when writing a C.V, the good the bad and the ones that provide impact!
- Unless you are particularly good at typing, it is best not to type your C.V. CV's should be word processed where possible so that changes of emphasis could be implemented easily.
- Try to keep the C.V. content to a maximum of 2 sides of A4 typed sheets.
- List your education and work history in reverse chronological order, i.e. last job and current education first.
- Wherever possible arrange the facts to highlight the skills and experience you have to match those listed in the job description.
- List non-traditional work experience to emphasise additional skills gained outside education, e.g. voluntary, temporary and part-time work.
- Use action verbs describing your skills, such as organised and supervised.
- Don't lie; if you are subsequently found out you could be dismissed.
- Don't leave any gaps, as a prospective employer will wonder how they have been filled.
- Always use good quality white paper, use generous margins at the side, top and bottom of the page.
- Keep a copy and re-read your C.V. before you go for the interview.
Qualifications should be arranged to show relevant ongoing professional development. Every profession/situation has different demands in terms of the display of qualifications; a good CV shows that you have thought about this and organised your information to maximise its impact and relevance. You don't need to explain trivial details of your early education or training except in passing. Your CV is a creative document that allows you to say what you think is appropriate, compared with forms, which confine self-expression; you might as well use that freedom!
Each step of your career should be prioritised so that the strongest and most recent aspects get far more attention than the early stages. Headings should be attractive, brief and consistent, so that readers can tell where one bit of information starts and the last one ends. Job descriptions should be expressive, making best use of grammar that applies only to CVs. Professional roles undertaken should be highlighted so that people will know what you did above and beyond the confines of your official job description. Any achievements should be linked to the rest of the text to make clear sense and corroborated by facts, figures and descriptions.
Details need to be brief and essential, without taking up too much space. Your address is not the most important thing about you. Referees need only be listed if necessary. Try to list a few interests to prove you do have a life outside of work; however beware of telling little white lies in this area as the person interviewing could be an expert in the field you have chosen!
Things to Avoid
A bad CV takes up all your attention with trivial detail and is obviously typed to a formula. If its done by an agency you will be given a form to complete and the format will be just the same for everyone else, the typist who produces it out will be under pressure and is likely to make spelling and grammatical errors. The main areas will not be organised effectively or attention given to design and typesetting. The main areas to watch for are covered below:
- Bad CV's are often formal, boring in appearance and content where you can see at a glance that creativity is absent.
- Sometimes they are very long indeed, and inflexible in the way they present information; they rarely ask, "what will people want to know?" and "what will be the most effective selling points to focus on?"
- Information is invariably all presented with the same weight and gravity, which means that trivia competes with the important stuff and the reader has to struggle to make sense of it all.
- Bad CV's tend to be ugly in terms of layout and use boring typefaces; no thought has gone into the fact that they might be scanned or faxed to a 3rd party.
- Bad CV's are full of trivial errors of grammar and they rarely have a consistent style throughout.
- Most of all remember you have one chance to impress and you cannot recover from a poor first impression!