3 simple steps to an effective CV…
1. Research: Many applicants undersell themselves by not ‘targeting’ their CV towards the industry in which they are seeking employment. Do your homework, read about the jobs you are targeting, talk to friends in similar employment. Ask yourself, “How can I add value to this company?”, “How is my previous experience relevant to the job I am applying for?”. For example, an ex bar manager seeking a job in marketing will demonstrate competency by listing supervision and cashier roles, but detailing ways in which he increased beer sales by arranging a quiz night, darts team or a ‘happy hour’, will show an understanding of how promotions can boost sales (an essential skill in marketing!).
2. Plan: With your research complete, you should make quick lists under each of the following headings: ‘Profile’, ‘Career’ ‘History’, ‘Education’, ‘Other Relevant Skills & Qualifications’, ‘Hobbies & Interests’, and ‘References’. The lists will ensure that you don’t miss anything out when you come to put your CV together.
Profile: List personality traits, attributes, ambitions (ask yourself, “How are these suited to the job I am targeting?”)
Career History: Write a short paragraph outlining your previous job title (20 words maximum), then list the roles and achievements related to this employment (use your research to expand on these roles, how are they relevant to the job you are targeting today?)
Education: For each institution, list all course modules, subjects studied and grades achieved (if the grades were poor, or not relevant because it was such a long time ago, then leave them out). If applicable, you should also list other achievements (e.g. school prefect, captain of the hockey team – anything that demonstrates skills that might help you add value in your new role – refer to your research!).
Other Relevant Skills & Qualifications: These might include languages, a driving licence or health & safety accreditations.
Hobbies & Interests: You’re there to work, the employer doesn’t care what you do in your spare time, right? Wrong. Sporting interests, socialising, and family values are all relevant and will play a role on how well you fit into the team. Be as honest as you can.
References: Use no more than three references. Previous employers are preferable. If you are new to the job market, or have a poor relationship with your previous company, you could use a teacher, or an acquaintance with a senior/respectable job within a well known company.
3. Putting it all together
Personal Information: Your name should be at the top of the document, preferably in larger text. As a minimum, you will need to add your address, date of birth, and contact details.
firstname.lastname@example.org | DoB 17/04/90 | 01234 5678910 | 1 Harrow Street, London
What next? ‘Education’ or ‘Career History’? Choose whatever is most relevant, a university graduate with limited related work experience should almost certainly place ‘Education’ before ‘Career’, whereas a 30 year management veteran should always begin with ‘Career History’.
Education: Entries should be dated and placed in chronological order (starting with the most recent). Refer to your plan. Give a brief description of the course studied (add your grade if beneficial) and add a list beneath to illustrate points of interest.
Leeds University (Sep 2005 - Jun 2009) BSc Economics (2:1):
A broad overlay of modern economic thinking.
- Overlay of key economic thinkers (Keynes, Friedman, Marx).
- Macro & Micro disciplines.
- Dissertation title: 'Harringate Bypass: Positive and Negative Externalities'.
Career History: Entries should be dated and placed in chronological order (starting with the most recent). Refer to your plan. Give a brief description of your role within the company and add a list beneath to illustrate points of interests.
B2B Marketing ltd (Jul 2009 - present)
'Cold calling' new clients to sell life insurance and healthcare plans.
- Cross-selling to existing clients.
- Responsible for a team of six individuals.
- Increase daily selling targets by 30% by incentivising team.
- Created daily targets, keeping myself, and team incentivised.
The final sections, ‘Other Relevant Skills & Qualifications’, ‘Hobbies & Interests’, and ‘References’, should be presented in a similar manner to the above. Generally, CVs should span no longer than two pages – a short CV packed full of information will ensure that the reader sees all of your key selling points straight away.