A good CV is important to your job search for a number of reasons:
§ It organises your thinking and helps you to express yourself more effectively at interviews
§ It shows prospective employers how your past experience supports your career aims
§ If you are having informal meetings rather than interviews, it provides a good document to leave behind or to follow up with. It reinforces the impression you made, and it can be shown to others in the company
§ Agencies and search firms can forward it to prospective employers for review
A prospective employer will give more time to your CV if it is pleasant to read, and easy to pick the relevant information from. It is also your opportunity to make a good first impression.
Take into account the following guidelines when writing your CV, in order to ensure it is given the attention it deserves:
§ The CV should be written in one of the more “standard” typefaces, such as Arial, Arial Narrow, Tahoma, or Times New Roman
§ Use a medium sized font (10 to 12)
§ Do not be tempted to try and cram more on to a page through the use of a smaller font as this makes the CV difficult to read
§ For the same reason, ensure that you have spaced the CV appropriately – it is easier to find information on a well-spaced CV. Make use of headings, new lines, paragraphs and bullet points to separate the information you give into useful chunks for the reader
§ Do not use too wacky a format, or too many wild colours
§ Do not worry about how many pages your CV is (within reason). The most important thing is that it is well-presented, well-written, and that the information is easily accessible
With all our advice on CVs, you must ensure that you know something of the requirements and expectations of the person to whom you are sending your CV, and use your discretion accordingly. For certain roles, or with certain companies you will need to adapt these guidelines. For example, if you are applying for a particularly creative role, then it may be a good idea to use wacky fonts and colours!
There are two main ways of formatting your CV – either chronologically, or functionally.
Most CV reviewers prefer a chronological CV, as this makes it easy for them to see the context in which you gained your skills. However, if you are undertaking a complete change of direction in your career, then a functional CV may be most appropriate. This gives you the opportunity to highlight the skills you have gained which match the requirements of the job you are seeking. A word of warning – most CV reviewers are wary of this type of CV, as it makes it difficult for them to see how, where and when you gained the skills you are claiming to have.
We will discuss in more detail the chronologically arranged CV below, but in summary, it should define your objective, summarise your experience, and then describe each job in reverse chronological sequence – first describing your responsibilities and then giving evidence (through illustrative achievements) of how well you carried out those responsibilities.
If you do choose a functionally arranged CV, then this should define your objective, summarise your experience, and then illustrate the key functional capabilities by means of accomplishments relating to the objective. As most employers are not comfortable with this type of CV format, this is not covered in any more detail in this workbook, however your Consultant will be pleased to discuss this with you on an individual basis, if you feel this is appropriate.
The basic elements of your CV should be:
Firstly, ensure that your personal details are spelt correctly – this is your heading for the CV!
Identifying information should head the first page in a balanced, pleasant layout. This should include your name, address, telephone numbers, and email address. You may wish to have this information on the right-hand side of the page, making it readily visible to someone flipping through a pile of CVs.
§ Your Objective
If you feel it appropriate, include your job objective. If your objective states clearly that you want to do the type of job you are applying for, the reasons you want to do the job, and what you can contribute to the role, this can be a real selling point to the CV reviewer. However, if your objective does not match the job you are applying for, it is much better to leave it off. Included here are the reasons why your past experience has qualified you to do this job – why you can do what your objective stated you want to do. This should be a short paragraph or one-liner, such as:
This part of the CV could also be entitled Related Achievements or Professional Accomplishments. The purpose of this section is to present results that further support your objective or application for this particular job. This section should contain lots of demonstrable facts, and works particularly well when formatted into bullet points. For each bullet point:
§ Identify the problem or situation
§ Use action verbs to define what you did
§ Identify what the results of your actions were
§ Illustrate the significance of the achievement in quantifiable terms, e.g. money, people, percentages, if possible.
Examples of these include:
§ Planned and built a new workshop facility for a property developer, ahead of schedule, with significant savings in projected construction costs
§ Managed and promoted a local fund-raising campaign for a national charity that provided contributions exceeding £50,000, three times the previous record
Make sure, however, that the achievements strongly and directly support your job objective, or your specific application.
If you would prefer not to list your achievements separately, it is also acceptable to list them under each relevant job title (see Experience, below)
The fourth part of the CV deals with your employment history. Using the term Experience makes a more positive statement.
Remember that the CV is a marketing/promotional tool and only those things that enhance your strengths should be included, whilst anything that would detract should be omitted. However, never be tempted to falsify any information on a CV – it just doesn’t work, and seriously jeopardises others’ perception of your integrity.
This section should first state your most recent job title, followed by the name of the company, location, and dates employed. Then give a brief job description, emphasising the strengths that support your objective. If you have not listed your achievements in a separate section, you should include them under each relevant job title.
When listing your jobs:
§ Do not give reasons for leaving jobs, as this also detracts from your achievements in each role
§ Do not go into too much detail about each company’s business, as the CV reviewer wants to read about your achievements, not the company’s operation
§ Do not provide details of positions held more than ten to fifteen years ago; simply summarise the nature of this early experience, showing how you have progressed in your career, for example:
Educational background should be stated simply; highest degree/qualification first, followed by subject, establishment and date. Then list prior degrees/qualifications, if any
Secondary education should also be shown. Whilst it is useful to give A-level subjects, it is acceptable to just to number the GCSEs/O-Levels you have gained, rather than name each specific subject.
Other training, certificates, or educational attainments should also be shown if they provide significant support to your objective.
The sixth portion is optional. It can include memberships, language skills and personal data that support the objective. Most CV reviewers like to see some indication of extra-curricular activities. However, you should normally leave out of your CV explicit indications of religious affiliation or political orientation, or controversial activities.
For the vast majority of jobs, you are under no obligation to state your age, sex, marital and family status, as these do not directly affect your ability to do the job. You must decide for yourself whether or not to include this information. Your Consultant will be able to discuss this with you in more detail.
A sample CV layout is included overleaf, for easy reference.
The style option you may wish to choose could be :
Telephone number E-mail address
A statement of the proposed outcome of your job search. Include background summary that support your objective by stating why you can do what your objective states you want to do.
This deals with achievements or professional accomplishments – the purpose of this section is to present results, which further support the strengths cited in the objective.
Job title Company employed at dates of employment
One or two lines to give a brief overview of the company and department you worked for. (Puts your role in context).
Outline your main responsibilities giving examples of achievements that support the objective in point format
§ Responsible for day-to-day running of…………
Job title Company employed at dates of employment
Continue this format for each of your positions, starting with the most recent.
Start with your highest qualification in the following format:
HND Marketing and Communications Kingston College, Surrey 1993
A Levels: History, English, French St. Mary’s School, Uxbridge 1991
In this section you can include personal details including language skills, professional memberships etc.
*** REMEMBER A MAXIMUM OF TWO PAGES ONLY ***