Your CV is a very important first step in the job seeking process and a neat and relevant CV will give you the edge over other applicants, especially when there are numerous candidates for the same role.
An HR manager or recruitment consultant will receive multiple CVs on a daily basis and whilst there is no perfect CV template, there are some fundamental rules to follow in order to grab someone’s attention.
Regardless of what work experience or qualifications you have, if your CV doesn’t look nice then you run the risk of missing out. Take some time to make your CV look neat and organised. Don’t be tempted to choose an unusual font or wacky layout as most companies have standard procedures for they will expect to see CVs that look professional. There will be plenty of opportunity to put across your personality at the interview stage.
Think also about the length of your CV. While certain jobs may require longer CVs, the vast majority should usually be no longer than two sides of A4. The basic format should include:
Personal details: including your name and address, your telephone number and email address, and nationality. You may also want to include your age though this is not compulsory due to discrimination legislation.
Personal Statement: some people may prefer not to include this but a short paragraph here gives you the chance to sell yourself and offers the flexibility to target your CV to a specific job. An employer will like to see that you have customised your CV to the vacancy available rather than simply sending a generic one.
Employment History: Arguably the most important section of your CV. List your most recent positions first and make sure that you include the duration of your employment period, your employer’s name, and a brief description of your duties. If your duties were varied then take the time to emphasise the duties that would be relevant to the position you are applying for. While it is important not to have large gaps in your employment history, don’t include your life story; if you worked in a bar ten years ago then it’s unlikely to be of use to your application for an office job.
Education: if your employment history is comprehensive then there is no need to put more than the name of your course and the name of the institution you attended but if you are seeking your first job then you may wish to include more detail about specific parts of your studies that may be relevant to your application.
Other courses and qualifications: as with your employment history, don’t include every course you’ve ever done, but if there are some qualifications that could be relevant to the role you’re applying for then put them in.
Interests: this is the section of a CV where people tend to be a bit lazy. Try to think of this as an extension of your personal statement and show yourself as an individual. Putting ‘reading, sports, cinema’ adds nothing of value to your CV and says very little about you, but if you if you have an interest in IT or languages then this could be relevant to the position you’re applying for.
It used to be the norm to include references in your CV but this is now looked upon as a little old-fashioned. If an employer requires references then they must, by law, ask your permission anyway, so it’s probably better to leave them out.
A new trend is to include a photograph of yourself on your CV but if you choose to do so then please be careful, sadly it is often human nature to judge someone by their appearances and the last thing you want to happen is for any prejudice that an HR manager might have to affect your application.
Lastly, read through your CV. Then read it again. And then again. There is absolutely no excuse for bad spelling or grammar. If you are unsure about it then have someone else read through it too, and if your CV is not in your native language then make sure you have a native speaker check it first. Your whole application must look as professional as possible so don’t set a bad impression from the start by including mistakes in your CV.