Did you know that on average, your CV will have less than 15 seconds to make an impact!
Often you will be pitching your application in competition with many other job seekers and it is common for most positions to attract multiple candidates.
Before you even think of uploading your CV on to any job site for the world to see, you need to make sure that it provides you with a strong professional image. Your CV is your biggest sales tool and possibly the only opportunity you have to sell yourself to an employer.
Sit down and take 20 minutes to make over your CV with these easy steps;
Strip it down
Remove any photographs, graphics and tables, flashing lights or other obscure colour or imagery that might be lurking within your CV. Unless you are applying for a modelling or acting job then a photo is just not necessary. Adding colour or other graphics just makes it look like you have something to hide. If you have the words ‘Curriculum Vitae’ anywhere then remove that too, it’s a self explanatory document.
What’s your name again? Make sure that employers know who you are. Your name is your identification so make sure that it is large and bold. Your name should be the first thing that an employer sees as it immediately gives your CV a personality. Do you have a degree or professional qualification that allows you to use letters after your name? Use them! They immediately let an employer know that you are an educated, intelligent individual.
Be professionally contactable
Make sure that an employer knows where and how to contact you. Include your full address (where you actually live, not the address of a parent or friend), a landline number, mobile number and your email address. Make sure that your email address doesn’t give the wrong impression of you, firstname.lastname@example.org is really not appropriate for the purposes of job hunting.
Add a Profile
A concise and powerful profile should tell the employer exactly who you are and what you can do for them. Avoid generic statements at all costs! ‘A self motivated team player who thrives under pressure’ has been seen a million times and has no value. Think about who you are, your core strengths and what you want an employer to know about you. Show the employer what you can do for them. Your CV is as much about your future as it is your past.Remember, this is your sales tool and an employer has not met you yet so there is no room for modesty.
Example:A skilled and highly experienced Key Account Manager with an unrivalled ability to manage an extensive client portfolio within extremely demanding environments. A strong communicator and firm negotiator with a talent for building solid relationships at senior level with many blue chip organisations.
Demonstrate your achievements
Back up your profile with evidence and demonstrate your intelligence. An employer wants to know what you have achieved and by providing substantiated evidence in the form of a ‘key achievements’ section you can exhibit your career highlights. Be careful not to waffle and don’t overkill this section. About 4 to 6 strong bulleted achievements should get your message across. Much like your profile, concentrate only on what you know you can offer.
Example:Negotiated and implemented preferred supplier agreements with key UK clients resulting in additional revenue of £250k per annum.Initiated cost saving of £100k through the delivery of improved wastage control methods. Project managed the implementation of advanced technology to track sales and marketing information, dramatically improving key data analysis.
Inject Power Words
Each new bullet point in your key achievement or career section should start with a ‘power word’. A power word is used to make a statement stronger and to sell ideas or beliefs; it is a ‘doing’ word and deepens the emphasis on your achievements.
Example: Negotiated, Implemented, Devised, Developed, Initiated, Led, Managed, Trained, Sourced, Advised, Established, Influenced, Enforced, Encouraged, Transformed, Restructured, Focused, Promoted, Spearheaded, Performed, Persuaded.
Keep it relevant, concentrate on the recent
An employer will not be interested in what you achieved at school in 1989 or your position as the office junior in 1991. They want to know what are doing now and what you have achieved recently. When writing your career or education section, always start with the most recent first and work backwards. Be tough with yourself and remove any information that is just not relevant.
Leave something for the interview
Don’t forget that your CV should only be designed to get your foot in the door of the interview room. An employer doesn’t want your life history, just a synopsis of you as an individual and what you can bring to their table. Your CV should be the basis for further conversation. Give enough compelling and powerful information for an employer to want to call you in for the interview but always leave them wanting more...
Check, double check and then check again
It can not be stressed enough how important it is to proof read your CV! If possible, get a friend or colleague to have a look over it as even the most obvious mistake can be missed. Set your spell check to English UK and not English US and be aware of words such as ‘there’ and ‘their’, ‘weather and whether’. There is truly nothing worse than receiving a CV that is full of spelling or grammatical errors.
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