Wow isn’t creating a CV a horrible task. There are so many questions to be answered. What format, font, type, and length of CV do I go for?
This is a situation which I am currently facing and I have spent some time reviewing information on CV’s - the perfect one. At this point I am not sure if it exists as many recruitment agencies and employers seem to prefer differing types of CVs, this is why I now have two CVs to choose from.
In my previous job I have spent some time talking to people about their CV’s and what makes the perfect one so I have previously given advice on this subject. This is the first time i am putting my own advice to the test.
So here are my steps to creating your CV
Start with a blank page – yes it is that simple. Whether it is a blank word document or a blank A4 page – whatever works best for you. At this point don’t worry about format of your CV. Just write down your work experience, write down anything that you have done in your personal, professional and educational life that you feel contributes to your employment within your chosen field. It doesn’t matter whether it takes up 1 or 4 pages, what matters is the fact that you have it all down on paper.
Walk away from the document you created above. If you have created the document on your computer print it out. Bring the document with you in your purse, wallet, back pocket or just put it somewhere you can easily come back too. But the most important thing is to walk away for a hour, four hours, a day. Come back to the document when you think to yourself “hang on I should put down that I do voluntary work for X company” or “I really don’t need to tell them I was girl guide of the year when I was 11” Believe me giving yourself some time, you will know when it is right to go back to the CV as a whole.
As I have said above you will recognise when it is right to go back and finish the CV and put a format on it. Only do that when you know that you have right work experience information and educational experience down on paper. This next step is to separate everything you have on paper in to categories. Define is it work experience, is it voluntary work, is it a hobby, is it educational?
If you haven’t already started to put this in to a word document – then start now.
With all the information now down on paper you just need to top and tail the information. i.e open and close it.
So you need your personal information for the top, i.e your name, address and contact information. You do not need to put your sex and marital status on a CV. It is illegal for a company to rule against against you for these reasons but my thoughts on this is why give them an opportunity to rule against you. Within my previous employment there is one company within the industry well know for rule against women and married men for the obvious reason so I would hesitate to put it there – but it is your decision.
To tail your CV you need references, you have two choices here. You can say references available upon request- which means you can chose your references to suit whatever job you are doing for. Different skills may call for different people. Or you can choose two people. If this is your first real job you are applying for after work experience then I would suggest using a character reference along with someone you have previously completed work for. Yes, even in a work experience capacity. Make sure your references know that they are your references so as they are not caught off-guard.
This is your decision. At the moment I am going for “references available upon request” mainly because my CV fits nicely in to one page that way.
Print it out – how long is it? My recommendation is not to go for any more than two pages – of course this does depend on your skills that you have already amassed. However, if it does go more than two pages – just headline the older jobs that you have previously held. Give a brief summary of your job description rather than every little thing that you did. This also works for one page CV’s as well. Just headline it! Remember the person who is going to interview you will ask you more information on specific tasks and this will allow you the time to give them more information on the other tasks that you completed.
Again, print out your CV and give it to someone to review. Choose this person wisely, choose the person who you know has a great attention to detail, great spelling and grammar. Get them to check the font size and type ensuring the consistency all the way through the document. Your CV is like handing in an assignment to a Professor, it must be perfect to get that A+ so chose wisely. Also, remember that any feedback that you are given, is meant out of kindness and not ill-will. Take the feedback on board, and think to yourself “are they right?” “do I need to amend this section”
Your Cover letter – this is as important as the CV and the first point that will help you get noticed. Remember first impressions last. You will need to use different letters for each job that you apply for so that you can tailor your application.
The letter must be substantial in its content. Ensure your tone is pleasant and sincere in its tone. Your cover letter should never be more than one page with three paragraphs. Try and find out who is responsible for the recruitment within the company so that you can address them directly. (Pick up the phone and ring if you don’t know)
1st Paragraph – Who you are and why you are writing – include any reference number for the specific job.
2nd Paragraph - Tell the person you are writing to why you are good for the specific job you are applying for. Relate to the job description that you have been provided with and demonstrate how you can achieve or have previously achieved these core tasks.
3rd Paragraph – Closing statement. Thank the person you are writing too for considering your application.
Other ideas that maybe useful to you for your new CV and cover letter.
- Perhaps you would like to put a career or character statement on your CV. This would be a statement regarding your previous work history along with how you will fit the role you are applying for. Place this under your personal information and keep to no more than 4 lines on your CV.
- When saving your CV on a computer to be emailed – save your CV as your name and the date of your CV. This will help the recruiter you are applying to but also a good archiving and saving method for you.
- If you already have a written reference from someone, why not add this in to your CV at the references section. Just a few lines which may help the recruiter with the new position you are applying for.
- Send your CV in a PDF format. Try not use the free PDF software you get online which provides you with an advertising logo on the front.
- If you don’t have a PDF printer to do this – then save the document in Word 97 – this will ensure that if someone is working from the older version of Word that the CV will open.
- Place a photograph of yourself on your CV – not the one from the drunken Christmas party – but a profressional photograph - this will help your CV stand out alittle from the standard word only documents.
- Depending on the job which you are applying for it may be necessary to add your Degrees or licences, if so, scan all these documents in to one document and send on with your CV as a separate attachment. Again ensure they are titled correctly – stating your name and date.
Common mistakes on CV’s
- Too long – one / two pages maximum.
- No organisation – information is scattered and the CV is hard to read.
- Poorly typed / bad paper/printer – this makes it hard for the recruiter to read so be careful.
- Too little / too much information – don’t go back too far in your career history. Add in what is relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Misspellings, typing errors, poor grammar – remember get someone to check your CV for these errors.
I hope that you find this information useful to you in the creation of your CV. Best of luck with this and if you have any other helpful tips you would like to share - just add them in the comments section.