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Your CV

Posted on: 03 Dec 13


Your CV

Your CV is the first impression that the recruiter has of you. A good CV highlights your achievements, skills and qualifications in a way that makes you stand out from the rest of the candidates. How is this done?

1. Highlight your successes

Keep in mind that CVs are primarily marketing documents. It is you-on-a-page showcased in the best possible light. A good CV can make an ordinary job look like an extraordinary collection of experience and achievement. Recruiters want to see results, not responsibilities.

For example;
Worked at a supermarket checkout and showed the new employees what to do
can be turned into;
  • Cash handling ~ $50,000 p/day, use of POS system and end-of-day reconciliation
  • Assumed on-the-job training increasing work satisfaction by 30%
  • Customer service skills and complaints handling


2. There is no such thing as wasted experience

Work experience doesn't necessarily mean paid, full-time work. Experience can be gained from starting your own business, internships and voluntary work. If you have had a period of long-term unemployment, then employees will want to know why there is a gap in your CV.

Be prepared to explain what you were doing in that time, and what skills you gained. Unemployment is nothing to be ashamed. Many people take a “career break” to focus on other aspects of their lives.

3. Tailor your CV to the job

There are several different kinds of CV formats available to use.

Use a format that will best highlight why you're a good fit for the job. Tailor your CV to reflect where you are in your career. If you have limited experience in the industry, or a career history that isn’t linear, a linear CV could potentially make your career look messy. You may want to consider looking at a skills-based CV.

A skills based CV is broken down based on specific skills, not employment history. Write your sentences out as…
  • this is what I did
  • this is the skill
  • this is what it achieved
  • this is why it applies to you.
Choose to highlight the skills that are specifically requested in the job description, grouping them into 'skill sets' where appropriate (e.g. organisational skills, management skills, negotiation skills, technical skills).

Interviewers will ask questions based what they've read in your CV and application. If you are unable to back up anything that you've written in your CV, don't write it. Honesty is a worthy value.

4. Keep it succinct and targeted

A CV should be no more than two pages. Why? Imagine you're the recruiter who has to go through hundreds of applications. What you can't say in less than two pages isn't worth listening to. You’ve ten seconds to impress and more than two pages is wasted paper. Your CV is not a document that lists your entire employment history, nor should it be. Each CV is there to present why you're a perfect fit for the company, not everything you've done - because not all will be relevant for the job.

5. Make sure it is polished

Everything is in the details. It doesn't matter if you're a genius at what you do, but a poorly formatted CV shows lack of care. A spelling mistake or two won’t jeopardize your career, but why risk it when it’s in your power to prevent it.

Get a friend or family member to proofread your CV for spelling and grammar, have them look at sentence structure and consistency in wording, terminology and layout.

Before you apply, check the format you would need to submit the CV in. Have the most recent copy saved in .doc and .pdf version. Always have a backup saved somewhere else. With all the work you've put into your CV - you don't want to lose it!

6. Don't know where to start?

Writing a CV can be quite overwhelming if it’s your first go. One alternative is to seek help from a professional CV writer. If this is not an option, to make the process more manageable tackle it in 'layers' that start with an overview with your work history to create the initial framework then progressively add more detail.

Start by writing down every single job you've ever had and the dates you started and finished in reverse chronological order (starting with your most recent experience). Repeat this with voluntary experience, extra-curricular activities and qualifications.

Next, look at each job and write down what you did. e.g. prepared invoices for clients. (Later you will want to remove these points). Underneath each point, write down an achievement or skill associated with this responsibility. e.g. Assisted in efficient project management by conducting final billing processes 100% on time with 100% accuracy.

For those of you who like to talk, sometimes it helps having a conversation with a friend to verbally process what you did and achieved in each role.

Once everything is down on paper, it will be easier to see what can be highlighted for the job you're applying for.

Mike Wood - editor

Last updated on: 07/08/2014 13:58:06

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