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Writing your CV

publication date: Jul 14, 2010
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ApplicantWhen you create your CV it is important to remember what you actually need it for. Whilst it may not get you the job of your dreams, it will hopefully get you an interview with a company that you’d like to work for. Research shows that the average recruiter only spends 20 to 30 seconds glancing at a CV so it is essential that yours will quickly grab the recruiter’s attention, making him or her really want to meet you. There is no one way of writing a CV, but here’s some useful tips on what we believe should, and perhaps as importantly, should not be included:

1. KEEP IT BRIEF

Only in exceptional circumstances should a CV be more than two pages, if it’s any shorter and you may keep the reader guessing. Only use white paper if sending it by post, and avoid fancy typefaces or any colour other than black. Your CV is a business document and should be presented as such. On that note, get a third party to check your spelling and grammar. You will be amazed how often the title ‘Curriculum Vitae’ is incorrectly spelt; not a great start!

2. START WITH PERSONAL DETAILS

Keep this part short and include name, address, home telephone number, mobile number, email address and work number (if you can be contacted at work). The more contact details you give the easier it is for people to reach you, speeding up the process. Date of birth and nationality are optional, but if they are on your CV it could save any embarrassing questions later. Being married is usually viewed as a plus point as it shows stability and life experience, but we don’t recommend including children’s names and ages.

3. AVOID THE PERSONAL SUMMARY

Experienced recruiters never read them! It is invariably just a string of self-opinionated sentences and flattering adjectives that tell you nothing about the person’s achievements, and it doesn’t help an employer make a selection decision. Instead, you may like to briefly outline the type of challenge you are looking for, and explain why you want it.

4. QUALIFICATIONS

Below your personal details you should include details of your education. This section should outline your professional and academic qualifications. Start with your most recent first and always include dates, results and place of study. Don’t include details of every exam you ever passed since infant school, or those ‘bought’ qualifications such as IOD and BIM.

5. PUT YOUR CURRENT JOB FIRST

and use reverse chronology throughout. What you are doing now is what counts, not where you started.

6. SET THE TIMES AND DATES

Put your current organisation and job together with the relevant dates. Use a bold heading, and remember that upper and lower case headings are much easier to read than EVERYTHING IN CAPITALS.

7. MAKE IT EASY

to pick out your success in each job; have a heading for ‘Major achievements’ followed by no fewer than three, no more than six, bullet points succinctly outlining your achievements. A few sentences should explain in more detail the role and context. Repeat the same format for each jobs, but make each progressively shorter.

8. ADD A ‘SKILLS’ SECTION

This point gives you the opportunity to list any skills that might be useful to a potential employer, such as language or computer skills. If listing your language skills, always give the level of ability: basic, fluent or mother tongue. With computer skills, list the software applications or programmes you can use and your level of proficiency: basic or advanced.

9. AND PERSONAL INTERESTS

By all means include extra-curricular or other interesting personal activities, but put them at the end of your CV. This section gives you the opportunity to outline any major achievements or positions of responsibility you may Anthony Hessehave outside of work. Potential employers are often interested in positions of leadership or responsibility, or where you have been interacting with others.

10. FINALLY, GIVE REFERENCES

The norm is to provide two referees from previous places of employment, but if you only have one previous employer you may want to give an academic reference or a professional family friend. If possible provide telephone numbers, as many employers prefer to take up verbal rather than written references and this again will speed up the process. Should you find that you are short of space on your CV, you can save room by writing ‘References available upon request’ at the bottom of your CV.

If you are not sure that your CV has the required ‘wow’ factor to get you that interview, please email it to me at anthony@propertypersonnel.co.uk and I will review it for you confidentially and free of charge and advise on any changes required.