Writing an effective CV

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CVs are an essential tool in the job searching process and everyone should know how to construct one. But many people don't know the difference between a good CV and a great CV and this could be the deciding factor in securing an interview for your dream job.

After reading this section, you will know:

  • How to create a CV that stands out in the crowd
  • The best format to follow
  • What to include and what to exclude in your CV
  • Importance of tailoring your CV to your audience

 

The format of a winning CV

  • The length of your CV should aim to cover 2 pages and no more than 3-4.
  • The CV will provide a database of skills, experience and achievements from which you should select material to reflect the requirements of the specific post.
  • Always put the most important matching points first, even if they are less important in terms of your present job, or if the skills or achievements go back some time
  • A CV should begin with a short summary of who you are
  • Make sure the CV is objective and avoid all the subjective clichés such as 'excellent self-starter', 'good team player', 'natural leader’ and ‘good communicator'. These qualities can be demonstrated through your tangible achievements which follow in the CV.
  • Remember that your CV will form part of the script for the interviewer's questions.
  • Do not allow gaps or unclear explanations to take up the precious time allotted to you so, try to neatly match their requirements.
  • A CV should also give some idea of your future potential.
    If you are presently studying for an additional qualification, say so.

 

Illustrate your achievements

  • It is not sufficient to simply state the posts and responsibilities that you have held. It is vital to illustrate how well you have carried out this work through your list of achievements.
  • How does an achievement differ from responsibility? An achievement is a statement of how you have added value to an organisation.

 

Make sure to sell yourself

  • Always express your skills and qualities in the present tense - you may not be using them right now but you still have these facilities.
  • Positive features need to jump off the page
  • CV should be printed and well designed
  • Make sure the material is clear and visually attractive, so many CVs do not reach this standard. Make sure that yours does; otherwise it is a complete waste of effort.

 

Functional and chronological CVs

  • The most widely accepted style is the chronological CV
  • Career history is presented as a series of appointments with the achievements listed against each one
  • Presented in reverse date order, with the most recent appointment first
  • More space can be allocated to the more recent positions, since these are where you’re most important achievements are usually found
  • In some situations, however, a functional CV is acceptable and may be more appropriate
  • A functional CV is where you group together your skills and experience under `functional' headings
  • It can be helpful to produce a functional CV, even if it is just for your own reference

 

DO:

  • List your professional, higher education qualifications and school results
  • Show recent vocational training
  • Include genuine foreign language skills
  • Include your unusual interests
  • Add a note of any publications and/or external positions you hold
  • Get someone independent to look at your CV when you have completed it - not a friend or family member
  • Be prepared to refine it a number of times until it is right

 

DON'T:

  • List every training course you have ever attended
  • Indicate race/nationality/politics, etc
  • Put down mundane interests
  • Include present salary details
  • Give references
  • Do not add superfluous details about your marital status, children, religion or political affiliations, etc
  • Do not include a list of all of your interests and hobbies. Is there something that you do in your personal time that has a direct bearing on your suitability for a particular post.

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