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Wednesday, November 11, 2009
CV Basics - Doing it yourself!
Why is it than when the jobs market tightens and the economy starts to look more than a little unstable, everyone thinks that they have to jump through even more hoops to get a job. Well okay, they probably do but that doesn't include creating mad CVs with tons of garish colour and images and fancy fonts. I know that you want your CV to stand out, and like me, every CV / Interview coach worth their salt will be telling you that you will need to if you want to get an interview, but none, I should hope, will be recommending such "extreme" action. That isn't to say that it shouldn't look a little different - it can be eye-catching without being thrashy you know!
Why not? Well quite simply because from a HR Manager's point of view it is very annoying. Unneccesary. Often a nuisance for scanning, printing etc not to mention distracting. The person reading you CV first off will scan it - quickly. Too much formatting and images are not what will help you to get a call for interview.
So what are the basics you need to know? If you are preparaing a CV and
a) You’ve never done it before or
b) You have one but it is really old or
c) It is pretty recent but it doesn’t seem to be doing its job – getting you an interview for your dream job!
Don’t panic! While I am a strong advocate of having your CV polished by a professional ( it is important if you want to stand out and make sure your CV doesn’t end up in the bin), here are some tips for those of you who prefer to go it alone.
One of the main mistakes I believe people make when preparing a CV is to begin with the layout and design. I am not saying that this aspect of your CV isn’t important – it is! – but you need to get the content right first.
So before you do anything else:
Step 1 - Think over your career to date and consider what have been the highlights. What do you consider to have been your greatest achievements? Write them down!
Step 2 - What are your main strengths and key skills? Write them down!
Step 3 – Now look at the job description for the job you want – what are the main requirements? Write them down and look at how they fit with what you have written under Steps 1 & 2
Now you begin to draft your actual CV:
Step 4 – By now you should have some sense of how you can match your skills and experience to the requirements of the job – so depending on the level of job you are applying for you might want to highlight some of your key skills at the top of your CV
Step 5 – Next, starting with your current job, list all your relevant work experience. Make sure to include dates and employers / company name. Give a brief description of your role and set out your responsibilities or main achievements in each case
Step 6 – Include your Educational Qualifications (unlike work experience this should start with your earliest qualification and move to the most recent)
Step 7 – List any other relevant skills, experience or training
Step 8 – List referees or provide a statement regarding the availability of references.
Step 9 – Format – put the information, in that order, into your desired format. There are lots of templates available but please remember to keep it simple. This is a professional sales document so unless you are going for a job in a creative environment you should skip the animation and graphics!
Step 10 - Review the information – have you highlighted / included all achievements or responsibilities which link to the requirements of the job?
Step 11 – Spell check and then check manually for spelling and grammatical errors.
Step 12 – Okay you are nearly done but don’t forget to include your name, address, a telephone number where you can be contacted during business hours and your email address.
That’s it – you have a CV. Now here are some of the things you should avoid:
1. Don’t use too much jargon unless it is relevant to the job
2. Don’t put so much detail on your CV that the reader is bored – you should be stimulating their interest
3. Generally don’t include hobbies and interests – especially if they are lies. Hobbies and interest are unnecessary unless they are relevant to the job – for example being involved in a local community or voluntary group would be relevant for a job in An Garda Siochana, Ambulance Driver, Care Worker or numerous other community related jobs – or they are really interesting and different
4. You do not have to include your Date of Birth, Marital Status or Nationality (although you should ensure that you have the necessary documentation / are permitted to work in the particular country)
5. Don’t have complex formatting – avoid boxes etc as many CVs are scanned and this type of formatting will cause problems
6. Don’t leave time gaps – it raises questions that can easily be avoided
7. Don’t opt for a generic CV – it is important that you tailor your CV to each job application. This will significantly increase your chances of being called for interview
8. Don’t have a CV longer than two or (if you really must) three pages – nobody will read it!