2. Application and interview advice

Putting together a winning CV

A CV – we think we all know what it is and what it is for. Whether we like it or not, this document can largely influence our future career paths – if your CV is not right, the opportunities will pass us by. It’s a crucial part of our career progression, but yet many of us still struggle to grasp some of the key concepts that make the difference between being asked to an interview and being dismissed to the rejection pile. So what are some of the things to remember when putting together a CV? Below we outline some key aspects which are often forgotten by candidates in the industry…

20 seconds to impress

A CV is not the opportunity for you to write your memories or life history. CVs should be short, sharp and to the point.  Use bullet points where appropriate and avoid long descriptive paragraphs. The employer should be able to glance through the document and quickly pick out the key points and buzz words which give them an idea of the type of candidate you are. Individuals looking through CVs will spend on average somewhere between 20 – 40 seconds assessing your suitability for a role. Therefore, the content on your CV needs to be able to engage someone in that short period of time.

Backup your statements

Try and supplement vague phrases about your skills and experience with specific numbers wherever possible. For example, rather than saying you’re a great sales person, what figures do you have from your past sales experience which demonstrate your capability and success? This doesn’t necessarily need to be exact numbers and to remain confidential can be percentages. Ultimately, you need the employer to recognise the real value you have added and begin to imagine how you can contribute to their organisation. Don’t embellish the truth as this will be a key question asked to your references.

Most important comes first

Take a systematic approach to the layout of your CV. Only put the most important information on the front page and keep anything that is not critical to the application to the second. Your CV should be laid out in an appealing and engaging way – it should be consistent throughout, easy to follow and well-spaced out. Think of it as a piece of art.

Everything else

Spelling and grammar mistakes are never acceptable. It may seem obvious but it’s where many candidates are still falling short. Take the time and get others to read over your application before sending it off. Don’t forget to add your up-to-date contact details – it’s no use having a great CV but the employer not being able to contact you. And unless stated otherwise, leave your references as upon request from the employer. Do consider tailoring your CV to a specific type of job – this can be the difference between interview or rejection.

Remember: Objective of CV = Interview

Keep asking yourself what you’re trying to achieve with it. The objective is ultimately to get yourself an interview for the desired vacancy you’re applying for. Therefore, everything you write down in this document should be aimed at fulfilling this. When writing and reviewing your CV, have this thought situated in the back of your mind to help keep you focused.

Conclusion

Follow these guidelines, however also remember that there is no definitive way that a CV should be put together.  The content and layout should reflect your personal preferences, and there isn’t one correct way of delivering a CV. Ultimately it’s up to you to get your skills, experience and personality across to a potential employer.