So you've spotted your dream job...but is your CV going to secure you an interview?
A curriculum vitae is typically required for every job application, ensuring it's right is one of the most time-consuming and painstaking tasks involved in the recruitment process.
Your CV should share evidence of what makes you stand out from your peers in a clear and concise way, enticing a prospective employer to want to learn more about you face-to-face.
But it doesn’t just show employers what you're good at, what you're interested in and what you've achieved so far – a CV shows them what you can do given the opportunity.
Here's my top 10 tips for creating a CV you can be confident to send to a potential employer:
- Positioned at the top of the page, give your name, professional title and contact details. It used to be customary to include your full address on your CV, but now it's more common to add just your town and county...plus your e-mail and phone number.
- Your CV should be a summary of your skills and achievements to provide a potential employer with sufficient information to consider you worthy of interview. Don't bombard them with everything you have ever done in every job.
- Ensure you don't just send out the same CV for every application. Tailor it precisely with the relevant job specifications of your target job, highlighting precise qualities that match you to the role.
- Be specific about your skill set. In other words, don't just use generic phrases such as 'I have a proven track record of success'. Explain exactly what these successes are. If you're applying for your first job and you haven’t done any, or much, relevant work experience you can still talk about your skills and strengths - include volunteering and your Saturday or summer job. Remember the top five work and life skills are self-belief, communication, team work, problem solving and self-management.
- Following on from my first point, only list your higher-level skills that are relevant and will impress. No potential employer needs to know you can operate Microsoft Word in this day and age.
- Focus on your achievements, not your day-to-day duties, and provide details of your successes. Including proven instances where you worked to budgets and timescales and the savings you made will provide impressive evidence of what you can do.
- Avoid CV-speak such as the well-worn phrases 'hard-working' and 'team player' - they just don't add value. Find another evidence-based way to convey these facts.
- If it's your first job, or you feel your CV is lacking, you can include a hobbies and interests section towards the end. But avoid listing run-of-the-mill pastimes such as 'going to the cinema' or 'reading' - only include interests that make you stand out or are relevant to the job.
- Like including an address on your CV, adding your referees at the end is no longer standardised. You can say ‘references available on request’, but it’s acceptable to remove it altogether.
- Don't include your date of birth or marital status. Your age doesn't affect your ability to do the job and it's illegal for employers to ask about age under the Equality Act 2010. Likewise, your marital status and dependants - protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 - don't have any bearing on your job worthiness and it's against the law for employers to ask about them.