So you’ve finished school, you’re out in the real world and on to the next big chapter in life. But between you and a career is the all-important CV. Where to start? How long does it need to be? What does the employer want to see? These are all questions that we’ve had to ponder at some point and it’s often taken a large multitude of drafts to get it right! Fear not, as below we have listed some of the most important tips to guarantee a glowing CV.
Intro or no intro?
This is an entirely subjective decision and one is influenced by what industry you’re looking to delve into. If you’re looking to follow a creative career, then by all means include an intro. If, on the other hand, you’re aiming down the corporate barrel then you’d might want to leave out the introduction and go straight into your relevant experience. You might ask why, but this is mainly due to the fact that most corporate roles receive such large numbers of applications that they simply don’t have the time to read them all properly. They’ll skim through and pick out key points in each to create their shortlist of candidates. Establish a clear and concise experience section and make sure it’s the first thing they see.
Less is more
This ties in nicely to the previous point. With HR departments all around the country swamped with applications, one cannot afford to be thrown in the ‘no’ pile simply because the recruiter didn’t feel like reading an essay. Keep it clean, short (no more than two pages MAX) and relevant! By far the most important point there is relevance. Everything you put on that piece of paper must be there for a reason! Make use of bullet points and try to use key words like, ‘innovative, ‘managed’ and ‘adaptable’.
Don't go generic
Now this one can be a bit tricky, we’ll give you that. Unless you have a tonne of good experiences, miles ahead of what’s required, don’t use the same CV for each application. In fact, just don’t do it. Ever! Each time you apply for a role, you MUST make sure you adapt your CV so it’s geared towards what they’re looking for. This will maximise your chances of getting into the interview room and it’s often the case that employers can actually tell that you’ve tweaked your CV for the role. To the employer it demonstrates initiative and a willingness to go the extra mile; two assets any company relishes to see in their employees.
Interests and hobbies
It’s safe to say that many recruiters will openly admit that the ‘interests and hobbies’ section is simply a waste of space and doesn’t add any merit to the application. But, for every argument against including it there are also just as many in favour. Your skills and experience validate you for the role, whereas your interests and hobbies provide an insight into who YOU are as a person. This is vitally important for businesses where company culture and work environment are key factors. Assess the business and if they like to put an emphasis on pastoral care, then feel free to include this section. Just make sure you keep it short, place them at the end and don’t put precedent on your hobbies. Use them to seal the deal, not as a main selling point.
In short, you should ALWAYS try to have two references (yes your school tutor will suffice as one) as these provide a recruiter with another source of verification. By having someone sell you to the recruiter (which is essentially what’s happening) you’re increasing your chances as it can fill them with confidence about your ability. As a rule, it’s best to put ‘references upon request,’ as more than anything else, it gives you more space to de-clutter your CV!
The STAR method
When writing your CV, it’s important to keep the STAR method in mind so that you can convey your skills and talents in tangible ways that employers can understand and remember. The STAR method is as follows:
- S: Situation - Define the situation in which you faced a challenge in the workplace.
- T: Task - Briefly explain the task you designed and/or undertook to address the challenge.
- A: Action - Discuss how that task was effective and how you implemented it in the given situation.
- R: Result - Tell what happened as a result and what you learned from it that could be applied to future challenges.
Overall the most important two things to do when drafting your CV is to keep it clear and keep it RELEVANT. We cannot stress the relevant aspect enough. Don’t bore the recruiter with over-technical jargon. Stick to what you know and what you can back up in the interview! Keep to these guidelines and your phone will be ringing off the hook in no time.