The 'Curriculum Vitae', commonly abbreviated to CV, can be literally translated as 'course of life'. Sometimes referred to as a résumé, it's a summary of your career history that is often the first phase in getting yourself noticed by potential employers.
The résumé is comparable to a CV in many countries. However, it is substantially shorter than a CV in the U.S, Canada, and Australia. It is essential to dedicate ample time to create a good CV, as this will not only form the basis of many of your applications, but also act a useful tool for understanding your key strengths and skills.
The CV is your own personal marketing tool that provides you with the chance to sell yourself to potential employers and is one aspect of the recruitment process of which you do have total control over. Be sure to highlight all your key achievements and successes and as the CV is commonly used to set the agenda for an interview, you will need to know your CV in detail, as you may be questioned on the contents.
In an increasingly demanding market, you need to stand out and sell yourself to employers, but what does this actually mean?
Rather than telling them the qualities you possess, show them by giving examples that you have the skills they are looking for when putting together your CV.
So how do you make yourself memorable? Candidates often look the same so it is the extra things that you do that will make you stand out. In addition, it’s great to talk about your extra-curricular activities, but even more important to demonstrate how these activities relate to the job itself.
Putting together a successful CV is not such a daunting task. It's just a case of taking all your skills and experience and tailoring them to the job you're applying for.
What does your CV need to achieve?
- Keep it short and concise - employers receive dozens of CVs all the time so it's unlikely they'll read each one cover to cover. Most will make a judgment about a CV within sections, so stick to a maximum of two pages (A4).
- Use a clear and easy readable font, no more than two sizes .
- CV layout should be well presented and not look cramped. The upper middle area of the first page of your CV is where the recruiter's eye will naturally fall, so make sure you include your most important information there.
- Include a Career Profile or Summary - This is a short factual statement at the beginning of your CV. Include details of your core experience, skills, what industry you have operated in and, key responsibilities.
- Tailor your CV for every job application - You would have read the job spec in its entirety as well as highligh the skills and experience you can satisfy and all the bits you can't. With the areas where you're lacking, fill in the blanks by adapting the skills you do have – it’s never a good idea to lie, as you could so easily be caught out!
- Make the most of your skills and interests - Remember to include key skills that can help you to stand out to employers e.g. communication skills; computer skills; team working; problem solving and languages.
- Align key skills and competencies based on companies that you've worked for. It's important that you take steps to fill any skills and qualifications you've gained and address any gaps based on what employers require. Don't include passive interests like watching TV, or solitary hobbies that can be perceived as you lacking in people skills. Use interests that reflect or show evidence of key traits such as committment, endurance, and focus for example.
- Leverage your experience - use assertive and positive language particularly within your work history and experience sections, such as "developed", "organised" or "achieved". Try to relate the skills you have gained to the job role you're applying for
- Review and update your CV regularly - review your CV on a regular basis and add any new skills or experience that's missing.
- References - You need to have at least two referees available who can provide a work reference. Ideally one should be your most recent employer. There’s no need to include their details on your CV. A line informing the reader that referees will be available upon request would suffice.
- Check your CV - Spell check your CV and ensure that the grammar is checked also and not just online. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, get a friend or family member to help.
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