When we come to create our CV we are faced with two realities. Firstly, there is a blank page in front of us that we must transform into a business document that will secure us an interview. And secondly, we have a head full of knowledge about a subject that we know better than anyone else – ourselves!
The objective at this point is to take the best parts from that mass of information and distil it down to the key parts; including all relevant information while at the same time engaging the hiring managers of the companies we are targeting – and ideally to do this within two pages. So where do we start? To do this, we need to understand what a CV is:
What a CV is:
- A succinct overview of your strengths as they apply to your targeted job or sector;
- An accurate and up-to-date business document;
- A promotional tool that shows employers how your experience matches their requirements.
What a CV is not:
- A blow by blow, epic account of your life ranging from your first day in primary school to last week’s team meeting;
- A copy and pasting of the HR job descriptions from your past and present roles;
- A paper version of your Facebook profile.
Keeping these points at the forefront of your mind will help you to separate the filler material from the key content.
What to Include
Name, address, mobile number, business appropriate email address, URL to LinkedIn profile
Brief paragraph describing your current situation and what you are hoping to achieve next. N.B. Use facts as your structure –
“Award winning architect with a track record of incorporating environmental innovations in commercial design. My strengths lie in designing and presenting winning client bids. Having achieved success at a medium-sized firm, I am keen to take on the challenge of a developing the business of a national organisation.”
Three to five bullet points listing your key successes – including the numbers e.g. “Prince2 Project Manager with a track record of implementing SQL Database integration.”
Year of leaving, qualification title and institution. If you achieved good grades it is worth including these. However, if these were poor it is best to omit them. If you completed a thesis it may also be worth mentioning the title.
Years of joining and leaving the company, Job title and company name. Following this with a brief description of what the company does can be useful, particularly if it strengthens your own experience by association. For example, describing a company as an innovative designer of market-leading websites will give you some kudos if your role is a web designer. Also consider inserting a link to the organisation’s website.
List your most recent role first and work backwards.
Concentrate on those responsibilities and achievements that will be of interest to employers in the type of role you are targeting. There is no obligation to include all of your duties – focus on the principal ones.
Your most recent positions are of the most interest, so these will usually have the most detail.
You can include a few words about your pastimes in this section. Concentrate on active hobbies that you participate in and if you do any voluntary work this is a great place to include it.
Section order has some flexibility. The key consideration is always to lead with the information that is most relevant to your job or industry. So if specific qualifications or IT knowledge is important for a role then you should feature these prominently.