In these days of hot competition for jobs, how can you make your CV stand out from others who have had a similar career path?
One of the most common mistakes is to make your CV a collection of previous job descriptions. Instead, focus not just on what you’ve done, but also on how successfully you did it – because having experience doesn’t always mean having ability. List key achievements as well as your tasks and responsibilities.
Few people have a section focussing on your key skills, but this is critical. Choose a few that are critical to job success – such as teamworking, communication or customer service – and give some examples of when and how you’ve demonstrated these.
Don’t just limit yourself to job-related achievements and experiences though, especially if you’re in the early stages of your career. What about other activities that show off your skills and attributes, such as hobbies, sports, involvement with clubs and societies etc.? Being on a committee at University is a great example of using teamworking and communication skills.
Use dynamic words for maximum impact, and avoid repetition. So instead of “I did…” try “I created/managed/developed/implemented/initiated/presented…” Try others to describe how well you did things, such as accurately, efficiently, on time, to budget, proactively, effectively etc.
Remember, a CV is a business document, not a letter to your mum. So don’t put in long paragraphs of flowery narrative – most recruiters will only skim read it at first anyway. Instead, use bullet points and simple formatting (such as bold type) to make key words and phrases stand out. Make an effort with presentation, but don’t go overboard with it. If you try to stand out by using colours, images, different fonts and OTT formatting, you’ll just give the recruiter a headache.
Before you send a CV, proofread it – and then get someone else to. Make sure you fix not just spelling mistakes and typos, but also grammar, punctuation and poor wording. Read it out loud to check what you have said makes sense!
Always submit a cover letter with your CV, which gives a brief overview of what you’re applying for and why. The cover letter should give the recruiter enough of a taster to make them want to then read your CV, instead of filing it under B (for Bin!)
Finally, remember In Curriculum Vitae Veritas – in other words, tell the truth in your CV. If you have the right approach to presenting and wording your CV, you should have no need to tell fibs which could get you into trouble later.