But that’s part of the problem: just how do you create the perfect CV? It’s one of life's unanswerable questions. Unfortunately, there’s no one right way; no one template to fit all. I mean, what font do we use? How can we avoid boring a recruiter who’s looking at a tsunami of resumes? How do we squeeze our whole life onto one tiny piece of paper?!
We speak to Michelle Smithson, communications manager for CV-Library, who gives us some handy tips that will prevent you from having a CV-based meltdown.
1. Make sure you tailor it!
When you’re sending off what feels like hundreds of CVs per day, it’s tempting to just use one CV for all, hope for the best, and get back to watching reruns of Gilmore Girls in your jammies. Unfortunately, the job market is so cut-throat that one look at your slightly mismatched CV and you’re immediately in the No pile.
Employers don’t have time to go looking for the information they want, so you have to serve it to them on a silver platter. For example, are you going for a writer position that specialises in food and drink? Make sure your CV clearly shows that you have a knowledge and passion for this, plus any relevant experience.
2. Don’t be afraid to show your personality
When it comes to the look of your CV, Michelle tells us that on most occasions it’s best to keep it clean and concise and, most of all, professional - which means no weird pictures of yourself (yes, it is always unnecessary).
She also says that, depending on the role you’re applying for, you could get away with a little aesthetic creativity to show off your talent: “as long as your application is appropriate and well executed then a little creativity can help you stand out for all the right reasons!”
So if you’re applying for a graphic design job, why not add a little bit of artistic flare to your CV - it might help them get to know who you are and your skill set. But as Ron Burgundy once said, stay classy. And who says that movie doesn't teach you anything.
3. Thou shall not lie
Whilst you want to big up your crazy work skills, there is a fine line between selling yourself up and straight up lying. Because you never know when lying is going to come back and bite you in the arse.
Yeah, so they may not ask you about your coding hobby in the interview, but what if it comes up during work? How will you maintain that lie and, more importantly, how will you execute that lie with any grace if they happen to call on you for coding advice/help? Lying on your CV is a disaster waiting to happen. Save yourself the embarrassment and just get a normal hobby like everyone else.
4. Give your CV a Pretty Woman makeover
And by that, we don't mean listen to Roy Orbison and make a montage. What we mean is that to create a successful CV, you need to take it from tacky to effortlessly stylish.
When considering font styles for your CV the rules seem obvious: Curlz is a no-no, and Comic Sans is basically CV suicide, right? Of course! That's CV 101. But, according to Bloomberg, the main offender that ruins your CV is actually Times New Roman. I know! Who would have thunk it? A few years ago this would have been a classic, but now if you really want to impress your potential employers, stick to a clean, crisp and downright cooler font like Helvetica.
5. Rethink your layout
CV layouts can be confusing. Should work experience go first? Should the ‘About Me’ section be at the top or the bottom of the page? If you ever get the urge to just “shake it up” to stand out, we recommend that you rethink that idea.
Michelle advises that the best CV layout will highlight your skill set and strengths concisely: “The exact order depends on where you are in your career, but it’s always good to begin with a brief personal profile, key skills and achievements, and your most recent job.”
She also says to avoid anything that’s outdated and not relevant. So if you’re going for a job at a major magazine and your space is limited, complete your job history wisely - they aren’t going to want to know about your university bar job.
When it comes to the detail you should go into when talking about your previous employment, Michelle says to avoid top-heavy text and long descriptions: “Bullet points are the ideal way to convey information efficiently and should be used to communicate your experiences and achievements.”
Employers see CVs ALL THE TIME. They want to be able to pick out the key information quickly without hearing your whole life story.
6. Try and keep to one A4 page
Your CV is supposed to be a brief, easy-to-read summarisation of your work and achievements. AKA you are not writing War And Peace. So keep it short and punchy.
This isn’t a chance for you to tell your life story so don’t get bogged down in a lot of detail, just recite the main points. It is common knowledge that recruiters can be pretty cut-throat when it comes to sifting through mountains of CVs, so try and keep your CV to one A4 page. If it spills onto a second page, try and see if a little a rephrasing of words or a rejigging of the layout can help to fit it all onto one page. If it comes out to longer than two sides of A4, you’re definitely saying too much.
However, if it compromises the quality of the CV, don’t do it! It’s much more important that the quality of the CV is not compromised for the page quantity. Remember: the older you get, the less people are going to be need to know about your GCSE results or your first weekend job.
7. Don’t underestimate the ‘About Me’ section
Don’t underestimate the power of your ‘About Me’ section. It is the employer’s chance to get a good impression of you as a person. It should be brief, but leave a lasting impression, so make sure you include any personal achievements outside of work, and any hobbies.
Michelle tells us that you should keep it concise and relevant in order to catch the recruiter’s attention. If you are applying for a writer’s job in particular, this is the perfect platform to show your writing skills in a succinct way.
8. For the love of God, please stop using buzzwords
There’s nothing that induces a recruiter eye-roll like a plethora of buzzwords on a CV. Instead of stating empty buzzwords like “hard worker” and “team player,” Michelle suggests providing evidence of these traits instead. Potential employers would much rather see that you have these qualities rather than you listing them in a banal fashion.
9. Include social media links - but don't go overboard
It’s time your CV got with the programme, guys. It’s 2015 for crying out loud. So if you have a LinkedIn account or an online portfolio of work that you feel could help your case, there’s no harm in creating a link in your CV (if you're sending it by email obvs) that takes your potential employer to either of these destinations.
Michelle says: “It’s worth adding your LinkedIn URL to your CV to show your preparedness and dedication to the job hunt, but ensure your profile is up-to-date and doesn’t regurgitate your CV.” Michelle also points out that even if you don’t include social media links, that doesn’t mean that your employer isn’t going to search for you. So it might be a good idea to hide those pictures from your mate’s hen party on Facebook….
10. Avoid the dreaded CV faux pas
We here at Sofeminine, we care about you OK. We want you to get the job you want because hey, you deserve it, girlfriend.
So we ask Michelle one final question: are there any CV faux pas that can be easily avoided. The answer? Yes. So many: “Typos and grammatical errors are by far the number one. There’s nothing worse than reading a CV that is full of mistakes, it’s an instant turn off.
Not tailoring to the job role is another. You must make sure the info is relevant to the job you’re applying for. If you’ve proof read your CV, proof it again, then give to someone else to proof.”
Well, you heard the woman - go get it proofed by somebody! Anybody! Take to the streets if you have to! A second pair of eyes is so so important to getting it right.
Have you got any other tips for a great CV? Let us know! @sofeminineUK
This article was written by Pascale. Follow her on Twitter: @Pas__
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