Writing a Professional and Competitive CV

Writing a Professional and Competitive CV

 18 Jul 2018

Tags:
    Career Advice,
    CV Advice

The CV is usually your first form of representation in front of a potential employer and with a competitive job market it is important your CV gives the right first impression.

If the CV looks rushed or lazily done, it really does not give an agency confidence in putting someone before a client, let alone what an employer would think if they received it direct, generally people perceive the job seeker as they see the CV.

The CV’s purpose is to secure you the interview over rival candidates, so if you want the interview it’s essential to get the CV right first, below are some points to guide you on writing a professional and competitive CV.

CV Presentation

Your aim should be to present your CV in a professional format that is easily readable to a potential employer.

  • Keep it all in the same font style and size with the exceptions of section headings that can be larger, underlined or in bold.
  • Choose a font that is easy to read such as Arial.
  • Keep it all in the same font color.
  • Don’t highlight key words by putting them in Capitals form in the middle of a sentence.
  • Check for spelling and grammar errors.
  • A CV should be 2-3 pages to allow you to cover off all information and sell yourself effectively, with a maximum of about 5 pages for those with longer careers, anything more than 5 will generally be to much reading to keep an employers attention.
  • Be sure to save your CV in an easy to open file format that is commonly used, such as a Microsoft word processor file or pdf.

CV Structure

It is generally easiest to build a CV by initially breaking the information up into various sections, like different chapters in a book.

Firstly list what sections / headings you want your CV to include, then go about adding the meat to the bones so to speak.

Below are sections  recommended to include in a CV.

 CV Sections:

 Contact Details

To include full name, contact telephone numbers, email address and home address.

 Professional Profile

This should be 1 – 2 paragraphs providing a brief overview of your career to date, imagine this being the Blurb (information) on the back of a book that gives you a quick summary to attract you to buy.

General points to include could be how many years experience in the industry you have, what type of roles you have performed throughout your career, any specific achievements or projects to highlight.

 Employment History

This is an important part of the CV, as any potential employer will be comparing this to the role they are recruiting with a view of matching up any relevant experience.

This should be a list of each previous employer (Starting with your most recent employment first and oldest job last), including company name, duration of employment, job title, a break down of key responsibilities / duties and if you are looking to stand out further a summary of projects / products you have been working on.

If you have had a career spanning 20-30 + years rather than writing in detail the entire career it is recommended to write the last 10 years of your career in detail and then simply add another section title “Earlier Employment”, this should just be in bullet point form including the basic information of company name, duration of employment and job title.

The reason for this is that it’s your most recent experience that is of interest to an employer however a lot of employers will like to also see what your employment background is and any employment left off a CV can be misleading, so the aim is to hold a full account of your employment history but in a manageable amount of reading.

 Career Achievements

This is a section often forgotten on a CV but really can separate you from other candidates. Bare in mind that the prospective employer will understand your responsibilities and duties, in fact that information will likely be the same on the CV’s of other candidates, it is your achievements that will differ and that’s what gets employers interested.

To make yourself look the more competitive addition to their team it is best to include examples where you have secured new business or saved your employer time or money, alternatively any particular notable or iconic projects / products may be worth including.

 Education and Qualifications 

This should be listed in order with your most recent education/qualifications first and should include type of qualification and institution of study.

Any qualifications you are currently studying should also be included as this may be advantageous.

 Training

This is usually any addition courses or on the job training you have done which is relevant to the role you are applying, example training could be, First aid, leadership / management, business development, a specific type of software etc.

It is best to again produce this in the form of a list ideally with dates of training included.

 IT Skills

In this day and age it’s unlikely for any job not to involve some form of information technology, therefore most employers will expect you to be competent with basic IT and therefore it’s worth including. Depending how advanced your IT skills are it can vary, but either way its best represented in a simple list and quite often will just include competency in Microsoft office (Word, Excel, Outlook etc).

 Hobbies / Interests

This section is often included in most CV’s we receive but from past experience there is the risk that employers may read into things to much and therefore in most cases would recommend leaving this section out of the CV, it’s never missed.

The only time it is recommend to include this is if you are at the beginning of your career and applying for entry level jobs, as the employer will not have much employment history to go off  so they like to see what other activities you are involved in to determine what other type of personal skills you may have picked up such as teamwork and leadership qualities, most common interests tend to include sports you play or community projects you participate in.

 References

In most CV’s we receive this will include a list of referees and their contact details or it will just state “references  available upon request” and either are suitable.

However neither really add more value to the CV as a potential employer is unlikely to follow up references until after the interview stage so this does not help baring in mind the aim of the CV is to secure you the interview.

Furthermore if you want to add further value to your CV it’s recommended to instead add “Testimonial References”, this is basically a paragraph or two that either a previous employer or client has written for you that promotes and recommends your work and ability.

It is worth chasing up these to include on your CV, but to save you time it is a good habbit to ask for a testimonial reference whenever you complete a clients project or when you move companies so you already have a good track record of these to hand.

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