Write a winning CV

Make it punchy and to the point

Whether you are an experienced professional and have worked for several organisations over the years, or a recent graduate – it is often a temptation to make your CV too long. Rule of thumb:

  • If your fresh to the workplace keep it to one pages
  • An experienced employee’s CV should be no more than two pages
  • Many details are irrelevant for job experience more than five years ago – remove as much as possible from those jobs

Make it look good…

Use visualisation and bullet points

Pictures can say a thousand words so make it look good. Grafham Walbancke found using these techniques will make you stand out. They help make sentences short and easy to read, which means a recruiter can scan quickly and pick out the important points. It also forces you to think of the order in which points are presented.

Check and Check again!

Your CV can easily fail to get you the job, so be careful.

  • Check grammar and always spellcheck
  • Read and re read your CV carefully for flow and mistakes (dates, companies etc…)
  • Get your CV read by someone else to check for obvious mistakes too
  • If there are obvious mistakes in your CV, recruiters will see this as lack of care. This implies you are a sloppy person, and you may be rejected because of spelling or grammar mistakes!

CV Layout

Always save your CV as a PDF. Always have your name and contact details on each page of your CV. It is easy to mislay one page of a CV, or to not know which order the pages come in. Remember most CVs are emailed and sometimes printed and can get jumbled up on the printer.

Think visually – perhaps you edit your CV only on-screen. Print it out and have a fresh look. This is what the interested recruiter will do.

Be honest and speak normally

  • Be honest. During interview you may be asked to explain any aspect of your CV. Make sure you can. If not your credibility is lost.
  • Be positive. This is a selling document. Use words that have impact but don’t baffle them be straight forward and honest, no body like a big ego
  • Don’t include your current salary but make sure your discuss this openly with your recruiter or HR professional to avoid wasting everyones time especially yours and being disappointed.

Contact Information

There is absolutely no reason to make contacting you difficult for the potential employer, yet so many CVs have no contact information except a home phone number.

  • Give the potential employer your mobile phone number, even if you have to buy a mobile for your job search
  • Have a header on each page of your CV with all contact details

List Key achievements

Here are a few examples of achievements. If you can, briefly explain how you managed it.

  • Delivered a specific project with xxx business outcome
  • Build a solution for a specific client which resulted in xxx
  • Completed a project on time, to budget
  • Managed a team in difficult circumstances
  • Helped save money or reduce costs
  • Implemented processes that save time or increase work productivity
  • Improved the company’s competitive advantage in the marketplace
  • Enhanced the organisation’s image, or building organisation’s reputation in its field

Covering letter must match the job role

Listen well to the recruiter’s need. Read carefully the job advertisement, pick out the key words and write them in a list.

  • Draw out your key skills and achievements to match the job description.
  • It’s worth the effort!! Perhaps have different versions of your CV, if your serious about the job make it it happen and allow recruiters to see how good you are.
  • If you don’t manage to “tick all the boxes” in the covering letter and in the CV summary, then you may well be rejected at the first step

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