Before you start
You are reading this on a Credo Job Web so obviously understand that this is a digital age with a high volume of applications to compete with. Your CV has to be optimized with key words. They must be relevant to the job you are applying for.
Before you start writing your CV, find some suitable jobs to apply for. Ask yourself: “if I was filtering through applications for these roles what would my screening criteria be?” Highlight the key words and phrases that the recruiter is asking for. Now draft your CV as described below, implementing the same or very similar key words and phrases. Go into specific detail only about skills that are relevant to the role and provide examples of where you have successfully used these skills in the past. This is explained in more detail in the career history section, below. First, let’s take a look at the overall design of the document.
The look of your CV
Use a standard word template, lots of white space with a clean look. In a Times New Roman font, type size no smaller than 11. Two pages - maximum. Any more and the recruiter will assume that you can’t summarize information. Recruiters are most interested in what you have done most recently – they will scan the second page and don’t want to see lots of detail. If they want to know more about your previous jobs they can ask you at the interview.
Save it as your name and as a standard attachment (in *.docx format) so it can easily be emailed to recruiters.
Name and address: Make sure your address includes your postal code. Otherwise, your CV will be invisible if it is posted on job boards like this one and recruiters are searching its database. They start with a geographical restriction (e.g. 20 km of H4T) in order to filter the relevant CVs.
Telephone number: You probably only need a mobile number. Put a personal voicemail on there. Recruiters like to hear your professional telephone manner and know they are leaving messages for the right person. If you are including a home number, then ensure that other family members answer appropriately and pass on messages directly to you.
Email address: Use a professional one.
Gmail – is a great choice. You also can create a free account using www.netcourrier.com
Date of birth: You may include your birth date if you wish. If you're having issues getting interviews, try removing it from your CV to see if it has a positive impact.
Nationality: Not necessary to put anything unless it is obvious that you are applying from outside North America in which case you might want to include information about your eligibility to work here.
Photo: Don’t include one unless it is relevant to the job and you are asked to do so.
Marital status: Why is this relevant? No need to include.
Other information: If the job requires you to drive then you will probably want to assure them about your clean driver'slicence. If you are going for a web design role, you may want to direct them to a website you have created. Whatever you decide to include, just be sure it helps, not hinders your application.
Personal statement section
This statement or profile section at the beginning of the CV should state what you have done in the past, what you want to do next and the skills that bridge the two. It should sum up the whole document and explain to the recruiter why your application is relevant to them. Remember that you are competing against many other candidates so this section should explain what makes you different.
For each of your jobs, include the company name and address, your job title and dates of employment (including the months as well as the year). Start with the most recent job first.
You might want to put a line of detail about the company or website of the company you worked for.
You might also want to add in a line about your broad remit and who you reported to, to explain the context of the role.
“Reported to the Catering Manager and responsible for serving over 150 customers a day”
Describe your career history in terms of achievements
For each job, and particularly for the most recent roles, include three or four bullet pointed achievements. Demonstrate what makes you stand out from other applicants. Remember to use the same or similar key words and phrases from the advertisement.
A common mistake when creating your CV is assuming that the only sort of contribution that counts is increasing company sales or winning new customers. Sales are undoubtedly very important but there are many other ways to make a positive difference, so don’t be tempted to think that you didn’t make an impact just because you weren’t in a sales role. Other ways that you may have made a contribution to your employer’s business include the following:
- Increasing the loyalty or satisfaction of existing customers
- Solving a problem or challenge, e.g., decreasing customer complaints
- Saving money, e.g., negotiating a better deal from a supplier
- Saving time, e.g., suggesting a new time-saving process
- Developing an idea your employer acted on
- Launching new products, projects or initiatives
- Increasing the company press coverage or market recognition
Include facts and figures
The more specific detail you can include the better. The outcomes you have achieved, described factually.
Costs, commercials, percentage improvements, key performance indicators met, targets met, costs saved, etc. “Increased sales turnover by 42% against a target of 35%, which made us the highest performer out of 7 teams” is much more effective than “excellent sales management skills” Be mindful of not revealing confidential company information.
While facts and figures are important in a CV to establish your achievements, don’t go crazy and include too many figures into your application! Stick with word formatting for your CV and avoid spreadsheets.
Make every word count
Think “Why I am telling them this?” If it isn’t relevant to the role you want next, then don’t waste space telling them. “Works well in a team” is implicit if you have had a successful career working as a team member. You don’t need to spell it out.
The “Why am I telling them this” rule applies here as well. Do you really need to put your TOEFL results if you have a degree? If you are a Finance Director do I need your Math level results? Most people put their education after their career history, but if your education or professional qualifications are crucial to the jobs you are applying for you may choose to put education and training before your career history. Remember, there is no right or wrong way –it’ s what works best for you. Wherever you put your education, most recent qualification should come first.
Hobbies and interests
Only include this section if it is relevant to the recruiter. Do they need to know that you like reading science fiction? If you are going to put your hobbies on your CV, consider what these hobbies are saying about you and your aptitude for the role. Sport pursuits make you sound like a team player, artistic pursuits make you sound creative and charity work shows your altruism. Be selective: don’t put down a long list of interests, as this can give the impression that you are padding out your CV or that you will not actually have time to do your job!
It is fairly obvious that they are available upon request, so this section is now superfluous and can be missed out.
Finally check for typos
Spell check the document. Then read it from left to right and right to left. Then get someone else to check it.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so avoid these common CV mistakes and make sure you have a better chance of securing the job you really want.
Good luck with your career endeavors!