Sometimes it is difficult to see what is lacking in our own CVs when we are writing them.
We all know our own career histories well: our experience and why we would be perfect for that role in our dream organisation… but does our CV really demonstrate all that?
Recently I was asked to check some CV’s of newly graduated teachers, who were applying for their first permanent roles.
Listed briefly below, are my Top 5 Tips for reviewing your CV:
- Highlight that you are the right person for the job
- What type of job are you applying for? Is it relevant to your experience or recent qualifications/training?
- If not, how will you ensure your CV shows you could do this job?
- Do you have transferable skills from volunteer placements, life experience or other jobs that show you could adequately do this role?
- You may want to write a different style of CV if this is the case? A template highlighting: Skills, Knowledge & Experience/ Qualifications rather than a traditional chronological list of workplaces & dates. This is a particularly good CV format if you are returning to work after a long period of time.
2. Ensure your CV ‘ticks all the boxes’
What is the recruiter actually looking for? (not ‘War & Peace’ fitted into two pages)
- Take the job advertisement & highlight what they have said are the ‘essential’ and any ‘desirable’ requirements
- Highlight what are the required: ‘Skills’, ‘Experience’ & ‘Qualifications’
- Also think about what ‘Behaviours’ they require? For example, have they said that the hours are not standard? If so, the need to demonstrate ‘flexibility’ will be key
- Adding a profile section ensures that you can showcase your personality (behaviours). An area often forgotten about in the struggle to focus on highlighting skills, knowledge & qualifications
3. Personalise your CV to the profession, industry or sector
Is your CV too generic? Does it shout that you are a professional or have expertise in a specific area/sector?
If not, tailor it – one size does not fit all! (having more than one CV is common, depending on the types of role you are applying for)
- Go through your CV and highlight the key facts that match the recruiter’s need (ie management skills, public sector experience or professional qualification)
- Do you need to write a specific CV? ie: General management skills; Specific profession; or Industry/Sector CV
4. Make sure it is Clear, Concise & Correct
Is the information clear? Make sure the key facts jump out from the page – 1st impressions count
- Use short sentences with descriptive language
- Take out waffle & additional material that is not relevant
- Always be factual – you will get caught out in an interview if you fib
- Make sure your words are concise, descriptive and highlight key areas required
5. Ensure your CV has the ‘Pick me up & read me’ factor. Make it attractive.
Think about the aesthetics of your CV. It is no good having a CV that is the perfect showcase for your experience, but looks boring or is full of typing mistakes. CVs are usually scanned before they are passed on to the person recruiting & often rejected if they contain errors.
- Make sure you have clear headings, laid out logically – these guide the reader through the document
- Use bullet points, text boxes & spacing to emphasise what is written
- Ensure priority information is at the top, not hidden at the end
- Use colour and bold to attract the reader’s attention – but don’t overuse
- Check your CV for typos and spelling mistakes, then …
- Ask someone else to give it an additional proofread to ensure the above
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