Your CV has just one real purpose – to help an employer decide if you will benefit their organisation. Viewing your resume in this way will greatly help you to decide what you should include, and just as importantly, what you should leave out. Be prepared to spend time working and then reworking your CV. Your future employer’s first impression of you will be formed by this document and it is important to get it right.
Recent research published by Business Insider magazine suggests that recruiters will take just six seconds to make an initial decision about a CV. By scanning recruiters’ eye movements, researchers found that they read CVs in an approximate ‘F’ shape – vertically down the page interspersed with horizontal glances. Additionally, recruiters spent more time on CVs that were uncluttered and avoided long paragraphs. It is sensible to structure your CV with this in mind.
Section 1: Name and contact details
Firstly, your full address together with a mobile telephone number and a business-appropriate email address. If you use a work email address bear in mind that communication about vacancies will come to this address, so if colleagues check your emails when you are out of the office, you may wish to use an alternative email account.
Personal email addresses must be business appropriate. Using ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ will ring alarm bells in an employer’s minds and raise doubts about whether they can take the person seriously. Therefore ensure you do not start off at a disadvantage by using an email address that is a variation of your name e.g. ‘johnsmith90@’.
Section 2: Overview
Here you can include a brief description of your key selling points and the type of role or environment you are now seeking. This should be a few lines at most and factually-based. For example:
“Award-winning sales professional with a track record of six figure billings; I am recognised as an innovative thinker who has designed and implemented industry best practices. I am now seeking a challenging opportunity with a dynamic organisation where performance is rewarded.”
Section 3: Key Achievements
On overview of your key achievements in bullet point format will draw attention to your successes. For example:
- Project lead on the successful integration of two SQL database systems during the merger between Alpha Partners and Parity Limited;
- Ran a successful 6-week recruitment campaign to hire 25 customer service advisers for Happy Snack Ltd. – 90% staff retention rate.
Section 4: Education, Qualifications, Training, IT and Languages
Key facts are king – year of completion, qualification title and the organisation concerned. If you achieved a merit/honour you should also include the qualification grade.
Section 5: Career History
Start with your current or most recent employer and work in reverse chronological order. Certain key information must be included which should be easy for the reader to scan. Title information:
- Dates of joining and leaving an organisation
- Job title
- Name of company
You can now move on to your responsibilities and achievements. Your job description can be helpful as a starting point to provide ideas but avoid copying and pasting the information. Role profiles are generic and replicating them will make your CV read as a ‘by the numbers’ document. Instead, think about what your main responsibilities and activities have entailed, always bearing in mind the type of role you are targeting. What did you spend your time on? Then focus on these areas, up to a maximum of around four.
Next describe your principle achievements. Were you recognised by your company or your industry? Did you lead any projects, win any awards or receive positive customer feedback? Were you responsible for great sales figures or did you help to improve any processes that made the company run more smoothly? These are the parts of your job that highlight your positive contribution and will provide evidence to other employers of how you can help their organisation. Keep it factual and use action words, such as ‘Implemented, ‘Achieved’ and ‘Managed’.
Now continue with your other roles. The most relevant positions will be those from the last 5 – 10 years – for older jobs you can often just list the dates, job title and name of the organisation.
Section 6: Personal Interests
When considering personal interests try to concentrate on active rather than passive pastimes e.g. blogging or designing websites, rather than surfing the Internet. Also include any voluntary activities or awards and recognition you have received, as this will reflect well on you as a person.
After you have written your CV, read it again to check for grammatical errors and spelling mistake and to see how it flows. When you have done this, read it again! Then give it to someone whose English skills you trust and ask them to search for mistakes. A fresh pair of eyes is very important at this stage as the words will probably be dancing in front of your eyes by now. Once they have done this you are ready to go!