How to set out a successful C.V. – Part 2
If following my tips, you’ll have already covered your contact details, your ‘headline’/elevator pitch and your key skills and achievements.
Now, let’s move onto the section that asks you to describe your current position, and previous roles.
1. Describe your current job in a little detail, but only list areas not already covered in your ‘key skills and achievements’. Following that, you then only need a line for each of your previous positions. Don’t fall into the trap of describing your daily routine; remember, the employer is looking for your uniqueness, what you did above and beyond your job role. Doing what was asked shows that you’re dependable, yes, but what you did to improve your team’s/department’s results shows initiative – something that’s very attractive to the person recruiting. They’ll hope you can repeat the same success within their company.
2. List your qualifications in order of significance, with the highest achievement first. Include also qualifications you’re currently working towards, as well as any training that’s relevant, whether in-house or via a third party. Don’t forget to include any coaching you’ve had – it all adds to your capabilities.
3. The section asking about your Interests is an interesting one (no pun intended). My question to clients is always: how is this interest related to the post for which you’re applying? How does it support your application? Think about your interests from an employer’s point of view. High adrenaline sports may raise questions about your potential attendance record, for example. One of my recent coaching clients had undertaken voluntary missionary work for the Christian Scientists whilst another did voluntary spiritual healing. After some thought, about possible questions these endeavours may raise in the minds of people who may not share such beliefs, both opted to describe the work as ‘voluntary work for my local community’…which it was.
Voluntary work is always useful on a CV – it shows you’re someone who likes to give something back. Have you done voluntary work? Think about such as PTA groups (voluntary work for a local school) you may have been part of, or any fundraising you may have done previously (voluntary work for xxx charity).
4. The visual aspect of your CV. Making your CV standout from the pile so that it’s read in the first place is an important consideration. One method is to use coloured paper (if submitting a hard copy). That way, your CV will be clearly visible against others on the employer’s/recruiter’s desk. Use a nice soft colour: a pale blue or soft yellow. If submitting a copy by email, you’re able to change the background colour of your document in Word.
Don’t be tempted to include fancy fonts all over the document; this will have an adverse effect. Stick with a neutral font like Arial or Times New Roman throughout, highlighting or making bold section headers only, for example.
On the same note, although you’re looking to impress the potential employer, don’t assume long words or sentences gain extra Brownie points, particularly if your sentences waffle or confuse as a result. Clarity is a far better way to impress – let your credentials do all the talking.
5. Finally, my all-time top tip. Make sure you tailor your CV to the specific job you’re applying for. Match keywords in the job advert to keywords in your headlines. Present your key skills and achievements in the exact sequence they’re listed in the person specification. It may mean you take more time to complete each separate application but it will boost your chances of success.
I’m asked by many clients looking for career coaching to help form a stand out, effective CV; if you would like my help and more details of my executive coaching services, contact me on 01302 220221. I’ve also created a template for a successful CV; download this here.