A good CV is vital when looking for work, especially when there are numerous candidates applying for the same position. Here you will find useful hints and tips and example downloads to help create a CV that is best suited to you.
Curriculum Vitae – otherwise known as a CV or a resume, is an outline and summary of a person’s work, educational and professional background, and is usually prepared when looking for a job.
Employers receive many CV’s on a daily basis. They tend to glance over CV’s quickly, which could be less than 30 seconds. So it is extremely import to make an immediate visual impact. Using headings, highlight key words, use bold print to good effect, set it out well. These can increase the chance of your CV being looked at in more detail and you being selected for interview.
- When an employer asks for applications to be received in this format.
- When an employer simply states “apply to …” without specifying the format.
- When making speculative applications (when writing to an employer who has not advertised a vacancy but who you hope may have one).
- Personal details – Your name, address, (with age discrimination laws your date of birth isn’t essential), telephone number(s) and email.
- Personal Profile – This is a profile about you. Your skills, ambitions and work qualities at the start of the CV can be useful in giving an immediate impression to help you to stand out from the crowd. If used, it needs to be original and well written.
- Certification, and qualifications – Seafarer posts particularly should list their seafarer certificates and dates achieved, then academic qualifications, including degree, A levels and GCSEs or equivalents, with dates.
- Work experience – Start with your most relevant job and work backwards.
- Skills – Highlight your skills that are necessary for the job you are applying.
- Interests – Interests that are particularly relevant to the job are worth mentioning.
- References – unless asked for beforehand, references are normally provided on request.
The order and the emphasis will depend on what you are applying for and what you have to offer. If you are sending multiple applications to different employers for different types of job, you should tailor your CV to each employer, highlighting different aspects of your skills and experience. It is obvious to an employer if you are just sending a general CV and an untailored CV is unlikely to get you an interview.
- Target your CV on the specific job for which you are applying and bring out the relevant skills you have to offer.
- Make sure your CV is clearly laid out – logically ordered, easy to read and not cramped.
- Make sure it is informative but concise.
- Make sure it is accurate in content, spelling and grammar. If you mention attention to detail as a skill, make sure your spelling and grammar is perfect!
TOP TIPS for a good CV
Your CV should be carefully and clearly laid out – not too cramped but not with large empty spaces either. Use bold and italic typefaces for headings and important information.
Your CV should be no more than two pages, with each page on a separate sheet of paper. It’s a good idea to put your name in the footer area so that it appears on each sheet.
Be concise – don’t feel that you have to list every exam you have ever taken, or every activity you have ever been involved in – consider which are the most relevant and/or impressive.
Be positive – highlight your strong points. For example, when listing your qualifications or achievements put your best results first.
Be honest – although a CV does allow you to omit details (such as exam results) which you would prefer the employer not to know about, you should never give inaccurate or misleading information.
*There is no need to mention salaries required or earned
If you are posting your CV, don’t fold it – put it in a full-size A4 envelope so that it doesn’t arrive creased
If your CV is to be sent to an individual employer which has requested applications in this format, you should research the organisation and the position carefully.
In a competitive job market, untargeted CVs tend to lose out to those that have been written with a particular role in mind.
If your CV is to be used for speculative applications, it is still important to target it – at the very least get an idea of what sort of work the company is involved in, and what skills and personal qualities you feel you have that would fit with that company to work with them successfully. This will enable you to tailor the CV to the role and to bring out your own relevant expertise.
You may use a similar CV for a number of employers, so don’t forget to personalise the covering letter – e.g. by at the least putting in a paragraph on why you want to work for that organisation
Check that your CV arrives in the correct format that you sent it; if in doubt save your CV in several formats and email it back to yourself to check it.
Do not send out a general speculative email to several employers at once – employers can see the other companies listed in the mass mail out. This does not look like you have done any research and would make a prospective employer think that you are not really fussed who you work for and will probably make them hit the delete key!
There are many ways to compose and structure a CV and there is no single ‘right’ way. You can choose any of these examples and adapt it in the way that works best for you. Also, CVs and covering letters should be composed in your own words. Do not copy phrases and paragraphs word-for-word from these examples – you need to find your own words that describe you, and how you want to put things across.
This focuses on presenting your experience to an employer by listing your work history in reverse order, starting with the most recent first. It also contains details of your certification and qualifications, together with relevant hobbies. Some chronological CVs contain a brief personal statement at the top of the CV, setting out your key skills and strengths. This is the most common type of CV. A chronological CV is particularly useful for demonstrating career progression.
This is ideal if you have not any or much work experience, or if you have gaps in your employment history. A skills-based CV will help place the emphasis on what you have to offer as a whole rather than on when you did which job.
A skills-based CV emphasises your personal qualities rather than your employment history, and is a popular and useful format for people with minimum or varied work experience.
If you are going to use a personal profile this would be your first opportunity to do just that. Get it right and they are going to want to call you for interview. Get it wrong and your chances of being invited to interview are drastically reduced.
Personal Profile or Not?
On the basis of facts speaking louder than words, it could be said that personal profiles do not add much to a CV; however, here is an example of a typical profile and some facts about profiles. “Highly experienced project manager with a track record of delivering projects successfully, on time and within budget. Familiar with all the latest innovations, working with a broad range of products…”
Do you need one? No.
Should you have one? – that is up to you.
Space on your CV is precious; do you want to waste precious space on an area that may not be read, if you don’t need to? However, many candidates feel it gives a useful overall summary of themselves. If you do want to include one there are some factors you must keep in mind. If you get it wrong, you can end up worse off by including a personal profile just for the sake of it.
Keep it factual – although it may sound impressive to describe yourself as a “hands on proactive team player with business acumen and world class communication skills who strives to exceed” even if it is true, it just sounds like waffle. There is an art to marketing yourself, just don’t overdo it. A list of personal qualities does not become true just because you put them down on your CV!
“An exceptional team manager, who exceeds all targets set” … from a 22 year old (although this could be true) could cause a recruiter to think you are just spinning a yarn. And no one is likely to be looking for a low-achiever, or someone who is not a team player, or sets low standards and doesn’t meet targets. And if you are an exceptional manager, exceeding all targets set, these are what you should be demonstrating at interview stage. So less is more.
What to avoid in your statement – anything that just sounds like management waffle! Eg proactive, entrepreneurial (unless you are really an entrepreneur), hands-on, high standards, any sentence containing the phrase ‘core competencies’ – because what’s that all about then? The aim is to stand out from the crowd – it’s not just about having the capability to do the job. An employer is looking for the best person for the job! If you are going to use a personal profile to showcase yourself, you need to sell your achievements, your strengths and your successes.
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