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All the qualifications and skills in the world will not help you get a job if you don’t know how to write a CV. When squaring up against stiff competition from other job seekers who are just as qualified as you AND know how to write and present a great CV, you will need all the help you can get!
Here are our 10 quick and easy (but essential) CV tips to help you rise to the challenge:
The standard size for a CV is two pages of A4. There are a few exceptions to this rule however, and certain professions do require 3-4 pages because of the amount of achievements and work experience.
Two pages will allow you to stay on point and only provide relevant information. The employer doesn’t want to spend too much time reading through the many CVs they receive, and anything longer than two pages may put them off.
"Keep your CV short, punchy and to the point. When your CV is too long - and many of them are - then this suggests that you've been either job hopping (which is a 'no no') or you can't write concisely (which is another 'no no')." ~ Jobs.ac.uk
Never write a generic CV if you want to impress an employer. Although it may seem like a much easier option when applying for more than one position, you should instead write it specifically for the role and the company.
Make note of all the keywords, skills and requirements from the job advert and aim to match those as closely as possible in your CV. Research the company and write a well tailored, commercially aware CV to give yourself the best possible opportunity of getting an interview.
A personal statement – also called profile or objective – is a great way to introduce your self to the hiring manager. It will aim to address the relevant skills you have, who you are, and what your future plans are.
Another way of approaching this is via a cover letter. This can be a great way of making your application more friendly and personable, as you can address the hiring manager directly. It will also allow you the chance to explain something that you couldn’t do in your CV – like an employment gap, why you are applying, what attracted you to the role, and what your ambitions are for the future.
A gap in your employment history will raise suspicion, and could damage your chances of getting an interview. Instead, always be honest about your time away from work.
There are lots of reasons for your absence which can be explained on your CV and in an interview – personal health reasons, travelling, searching for work, studying or family commitments. Always put a positive spin on your absence and conclude that you are now ready and eager to get back to work.
You should always keep your CV up to date – even if you are currently in employment. Settling into a job for a few years doesn’t mean to say you should lock your CV in the cupboard and forget about it.
Anything significant that happens at work should be written down so you don’t forget at a later date. A promotion, a successful project, or any examples of outstanding achievement should be noted and tracked, along with the dates and specific information of what happened. You will thank us for this little tip later when you find yourself on the hunt for another job.
Any kind of mistake on your CV is going to instantly decrease your chances of getting to the interview stage. When the employer receives so many applications for just the one role, they are going to be looking for errors as part of their ‘keep or cut’ process.
You don’t want to give the employer any reason to throw your CV in the bin, so check your application numerous times before you apply. Take special care to also ensure all the standard sections are present, and that your CV is well presented, easy to navigate, and spaced and aligned perfectly.
It’s very easy to get carried away when writing a CV, and although you want to show off your achievements in the best possible light, embellishing or even lying on your CV is a terrible idea. It doesn’t matter if you are well qualified for the job and just want to make sure you get an interview – don’t lie on your CV.
The consequences can be severe, and if you happen to land the job and then get found out at a later date that you lied on your CV, you will most likely be fired on the spot. Even minor embellishments could cause issues during the interview when you are unable to adequately answer questions. The interviewer will most likely have a lot of experience in this type of situation, and can spot when something’s not right from a mile away.
A common mistake a job seeker makes when writing a CV is to forget to provide actual evidence to back up their claims of being an awesome employee. Rather than using cliché statements in the hope that the hiring manager will believe every word you say (they won’t by the way), you should instead back up your achievements with actual numbers.
An achievement should be quantified with the revenue, sales figures, percentages, volume, and so on. If any kind of number would better explain your success – then add it to your CV. Graphs and charts are also acceptable if you think it would be appropriate. You could even consider attaching additional information to your CV so the employer can quickly see your past results.
There are times when the standard black and white CV will get you an interview. That tends to be if you are fully skilled and qualified for the role, including an extensive work experience. Ticking all the right boxes may still sometimes get you through to the next stage, but if you are up against other applicants who can tick all the right boxes AND create a CV that looks amazing, you could be pipped at the post.
Don’t be lazy when it comes to the overall presentation of your CV. Having the right skill set is not always enough, and it only takes a few minutes to choose a CV template for free online and make your details look amazing.
The employer wants to find a candidate that clearly knows what they’re talking about. Having commercial awareness will give you a huge advantage when it comes to the interview stage, but you might not even make it there if you don’t show this in your CV also.
If you have a lot of experience in this particular industry, then writing a commercially aware CV should be easy. However, if you have little to no experience – don’t worry. You can still research the industry and visit the company’s website to find out more.
Swotting up on the role and the business you are applying for is not only beneficial when trying to write a commercially aware CV, it will also put you in good stead for a potential interview.