Here are some tips for writing a successful Curriculum Vitae (CV). I call these “tips” because there’s only one rule for writing a great CV: there are no rules! Keep these tips in mind, but remember, you are selling yourself, and no one knows the product better than you.
The shorter the CV, the better, preferably one or two pages
A CV should answer the question “Why should I hire you?” You will have about 20 seconds of the hiring (or personnel) manager’s time to address your market value.
Key in on accomplishments, credentials and/or qualifications that are unique or that favourably differentiate you from other candidates.
Avoid fluff. Ambiguities, vagueness, and generalities represent fluff and render a CV inept.
Be different. Be courageous and’ exciting. Take calculated risks e.g. oversized and coloured paper for your CV will help make it stand out!
Follow the Five ‘P’s for creating a successful CV: Packaging, Positioning, Punch (Power Information), Personality, and Professionalism.
Add a photograph to your CV and do not forget to put your name and address on the back. Use a high-quality, recent photograph.
Positive thinking produces positive results. If you think you are too old, under-qualified, over-qualified, over-educated, under-educated, too shy, too serious or too tired – you are. Intuitive interviewers are able to sense that impression in your writing and during an interview. Overcome weaknesses with offsetting strengths. Overwhelm hiring managers with these strengths, showing genuine emotion, and it will render the negatives insignificant.
Searching for a job takes energy, and jobs are offered to high-energy candidates. Your job search begins with writing your CV, long before the first interview. The words you write must portray this energy to the person reading your CV. It must exhibit desire, and demonstrate your commitment to achieving your goals. Your CV must show emotion!
‘Target audience’ is a buzz-phrase in advertising and selling, and is applicable to CV writing also. Define your target audience – the people or the companies who will receive your CV. Your CV is your advertisement and strategy is the keyword for its development. Are you targeting large corporations or small companies? Will your CV be read by a person or a computer scanner? Are you contacting local firms or is this a national search? Once you define your target audience, you must construct the document to fit the expectations of that audience.
There’s no need to use the pronoun “I” in your CV, unless you want to be a little more personal with your document. However, I strongly recommend you avoid using the third person. It gives the appearance that someone, other than you, wrote it and submitted it on your behalf.
Salary history or compensation requirements should not appear on the CV. Your CV is a sales tool used to define your qualifications, and to explain how you will use these skills to contribute to your potential employer’s business. It is a summary of accomplishments that show how you can benefit an organisation, not bow much you will cost. The covering letter is designed for this purpose, and then, only if required.
Just as salt goes with pepper, your CV requires a cover letter. Most hiring authorities place a high degree of importance on the cover letter. Many will not even consider reading a CV without one.
If you are a graduating student or have been out of the work force for a while, you must make a special effort to convey high-emotion, potential, motivation, and energy. Stress qualitative factors and leadership roles in the community, on campus or elsewhere. By employing a degree of creativity and innovation in your job search, you are communicating to a hiring authority that you can be resourceful, innovative, and a contributing team member.
Employment gaps, job-hopping and educational deficiencies can be effectively handled by using the combination or functional format. See the section “Writing your CV” for details on using these formats.
For maximum effectiveness, maintain your CV on a computer. This makes it easier to refine, adapt, and/or adjust the document to specifically meet the job requirements of each company in which you seek employment. Clinging a word or two on your CV could result in an interview, while not doing so might render it a lost opportunity.
Industry-specific graphics are powerful visualisations on a CV demonstrating that you are true to your career goals. As long as you do not overkill the document with graphics, you can be creative and have fun with the CV. Remember to limit the use of graphics if you think that your CV will be primarily screened by computers.
Your CV must not have spelling, grammar, punctuation or typographical errors. Furthermore, it should not have been damaged or have coffee stains on it!
Once your CV is complete, regardless of whether you did it yourself or retained the services of others, TEST MARKET THE DOCUMENT BEFORE PRINTING COPIES AND DISTRIBUTING IT! Once the CV is finalised, show it to anyone with a valued opinion. Perhaps an employment professional would critique the document for you. This feedback will enable you to effectively review the document and make final edits and adjustments.
Once you have brushed up your CV check out the blog on Job Search Advice.