Bearing in mind that hiring managers review hundreds of CVs over a short space of time, the front page of your CV will be read for about 20 seconds before the reader makes the choice to turn the page and read more or put you in the reject pile.
Therefore the key is to make sure the presentation, layout, grammar and content are exemplary to ensure your CV stays in the hiring manager’s hands long enough to secure an interview. A CV should be between one and two pages long – anything more is unlikely to be read, so the key is to be succinct and include relevant, interesting information.
One essential tip is to tailor each CV to each different role you are applying for, which might sound timely, but only certain skills and parts of your profile will realistically need changing. Research the company and pay close attention to the job description.
Begin with a good layout, which can be taken from a template, and chose a clean and simple font. Make sure to use clear paragraphs and highlight or underline sections to break up the page and make reading easier.
Now let’s get down to content. Here is how to structure the content in your CV so that you get recognised by the right person, and to increase your chances of gaining an interview for your dream job:
Your name, address, email address and phone number go at the top, ensuring that the recruiter immediately knows how to get in touch with you. Make sure that the contact details you use are ones that you use regularly, and that your email address is not the embarrassing one you made in high school.
Personal details such as your date of birth, nationality or marital status are totally irrelevant here, so leave them out, as employers can’t take this information into account anyway when considering you for the role.
Depending on the stage you are at in your career and what role you are applying for, you could put your professional title next to your name if you wish, for example: Susan Smith | Marketing Manager.
The CV heading and contact details are the first thing that a recruiter will see, so make sure they look professional and stand out for a positive impact.
Your personal statement, or profile, is your chance to sell yourself in a nutshell. You might want to include a bit about your industry experience, your knowledge, the type of companies you have worked for, and what your goals are.
Leave out the generic clichés about team work and how hard working you are, as you can incorporate these skills when you go into detail about what you have done in each role.
The personal statement is a great chance to summarise your experience related to the job specification, so aim to only include points that the employer needs to know.
The key skills part of the CV is generally a snappy, usually bullet point list of important skills that evidence your suitability for the role. Detailing your most in demand talents should ensure that the reader is intrigued enough to keep on reading.
Where possible, and where true, you can use the core skills used in the advertisement, and make sure to capture the attention of the hiring manager by making it clear what you offer if they only have time to scan read your CV.
Detailing your work experience needs to begin in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent role. If you have been working for a long time and have had many jobs, you do not need to list every role you have undertaken, for example since being a glass collector aged 16. Not only would this bore the reader, but most old jobs have less relation to the job you are applying for.
Include more detail in your most recent roles, and prove to employers that what you have done elsewhere is truly beneficial to the role in question, providing examples of transferrable skills and knowledge.
It is wise to be specific with your achievements within the roles here, and you may feel it is showing off, but selling yourself by talking about excellent project success will show them what you could be capable of in their business.
For each position, you should include the name of the company, dates of employment, your job title, you duties and key achievements, and skills gained.
If you have a lot of qualifications, you do not need to list them all, as let’s face it, your GCSE looks a bit redundant next to your PhD. Decide what is relevant, and like the work experience, begin with that.
Include the name of the school or institution, the dates of attendance, and what grade was achieved. If your degree relates to the job you are applying for, you might wish to detail some relevant modules taken here.
It is a good idea to also include any training courses that you have done which are relevant to the job you are applying for.
As a side note: If you are applying for a graduate role, or have limited job experience, you may prefer to put the education before work experience.
Other skills and achievements
If you are keen for the hiring manager to know that you are qualified in first aid with a clean driving license, and speak four languages, this is the place to do it.
While not all of these skills and achievements you list here are relevant to the role, it may still give the employer an idea of who you are as a person, and they may still view them as assets and to decipher whether you would be a cultural fit.
If you have any interesting hobbies that make you shine, you can use this section to build a bigger picture of you as a person – and if you are proud of it, it is an achievement.
A well-structured CV contains great content, in a professional, clear format. Now you have mastered the content, proofread, proofread, proofread, and then get someone else to look over it too for good measure.
For a confidential chat with one of our friendly consultants at Integra People, please call 01925 838 600 today.