No matter how good you are in person, however well you may perform at an interview, and whatever your specialist skills may be – your CV still counts.
Obviously, you need to check the basics. By basics, I mean that it is spelt correctly, uses correct grammar and contains all the appropriate information. This article is not going to cover the basics because there are hundreds of articles on writing CV documents out there. That said, it is always worth a quick check on the condition of yours now and again, particularly if you have made some updates - which, at the end of this article, we hope you will be able to do.
So putting aside the basics then, let’s look at some ways of writing a CV that stands out and that could potentially give you a little edge early on in the employment process. It may be worth getting your CV before we carry on so that you can check these tips alongside your current version.
1. Talk about yourself and let the reader know that you have a personality, but don’t fill your CV with irrelevant information. If you once climbed Kilimanjaro for charity or have been published as an author, then those are well worth mentioning. Outstanding achievements either physical or mental show character and are talking points (see note 3) but don’t fill up your CV with minor things. Team captain of your local football club shows you are a leader. The fact that you once got to the semi-final of the cup is not really relevant.
2. Keep the language simple and easily gauged. By which we mean don’t overplay your knowledge or skills with flowery terms such as ‘masterful understanding’ or ‘holistic skillset’. If you do, all that will happen is that you will annoy the reader when they need to translate your words to ‘Highly competent’ or ‘experienced’.
3. Add in talking points. You know that the step after a CV is potentially an interview so try to include some talking points. These can be achievements and unusual hobbies as in point 1, or even better some work related issue that will prompt an interview question.
4. Write your CV for someone else, not for you. Ask yourself this question ‘What is the reader looking for?’ The employer or recruiter is looking for someone who will be worth their while spending time with and also someone with the potential to do a good job. Does your CV say that or is it all about what you want out of the potential employer? Tell them what you are bringing to the table before you ask them what they can do for you.
5. Keep it short - leave them wanting more. There is an old theatre saying ‘always leave the stage with the audience wanting one more encore’ and that is good advice for your CV. At the time someone looks at your CV they will probably also be seeing others so keep it under two pages, that way they will have time to read it all. However, two pages probably won’t be enough to tell them everything you want to. So, if possible, hint that you have more to tell. Rather than put in a long list of skills why not try listing just the most important (it also proves you will know what they are) to show that you can do the job then add you have many other related skills in the area.
Once you are happy that you have the basics right, look at your document again. This time as a potential employer and ask yourself ‘Does my CV really stand out’?