We’ve all got to earn a buck, and unless you’re self-employed or the offspring of a member of the landed gentry, you’re gonna need to find a job to earn a living.
This means there’s an urgent need to impress your prospective employer with your cycling proficiency badge and your ability to make the text go blinky-blink in Microsoft PowerPoint… and what better place to encompass these skills than in your CV or ‘curriculum vitae’ (that’s a resume, for anyone over the Atlantic).
Your CV could just be the document that brings you fame and fortune – so what do you put in this all-important resume to help seal the deal and win you that new job?
- Ensure your damn name and contact details are on it. Someone may have spotted you as the next thrusting buck needed for their dynamic doe-herding business, but it ain’t getting you no job offers if you don’t have your name, email address and telephone number on it.
- Make your email address appropriate – ihatemondays, tfifriday, biglover or other ‘personal’ addresses should be avoided.
- Keep it to two pages of A4. Done. Nope don’t argue. I’m sure it’s thrilling to you that you once worked in Iceland stacking the freezers with mini vol-au-vents, but unless it’s incredibly relevant, a very brief one-liner will do.
- Generally try to lead with your most recent work/life/study experience first. Yes, you can highlight previous relevant experience, but the older the job the more likely it is that technology, processes and biscuits will have moved on. Employers want to know what you’re doing now and that you’ve moved on from pink wafers, custard creams and Bourbons.
- Be honest. Of course everyone ‘expands’ their CV and adds some flare to doe herding (reindeer rearing, moose management, pudu performance appraisals), but if you blatantly lie, you will get found out and even the smallest lie will ensure your CV languishes in the outbox marked ‘Destroy – Exterminate – Shred like White House memo’s’.
- Explain gaps in your CV or why there was sudden change from management accounting to doe herding. Companies are not mind readers. Gaps in CVs often indicate unemployment, which can indicate you’ve been fired a LOT. If this isn’t the case, then explain – a good note is to put this alongside your role description – your reason for leaving. No one should have an issue with a change of career, career break or redundancy, but if you’re invited for interview then do expect to be asked to expand on what you’ve been doing in that time.
- Talk about achievements and not just what you did. Talk about how you helped increase sales, brought a team together or implemented a project. If it was taken forward, let potential employers know. Your innovative doe-herding harness might be just the thing we’re looking for.
- Tailor your CV for the role you’re applying for. We know, we know, sending out hundreds of CVs can be debilitating, but companies want to give you a job, they want you to be the best candidate and they want to know what you’ll bring to the table. Take the time, read the job description, candidate profile and their website – a little bit of legwork now might see you pole-vaulting across the finish line.
- Ensure your CV experience matches up with any online references. Discrepancies and inaccuracies lead potential employers to question your integrity and motives.
- Add pretty graphics, your photo, gifs or memes unless you work in this kind of industry. It distracts from what a potential employer is looking for – you! Unless you’re an actor or assassin there really is no need for a head shot (assassin, get it! sigh) and you should judge any company accordingly that ask for one.
- Post anything unsuitable on your Facebook and other social media accounts. If you’re going to have public social media accounts then be very careful what you post. In these technology based times, companies will google you and they’ll trawl through your recent Malaga trip, the rants about your company and the ill-advised theft of last year’s novelty Rudolph. Your public online presence should be professional and we’ll be posting tips on how not to writte your Linkedin bio soon.
- Start your CV or covering letter with a diatribe on all the things the company can do for you and what you want from them. Remember, you’re not alone in trying to sell yourself for this role, in what is an unfortunately saturated market (yes, even doe herders are ten a penny). So YOU need to stand out: you need to show employers what you can bring to them, not vice versa.
- Be tempted to just copy your job description, verbatim. Job descriptions are necessary but dull. They’re also available online and with agencies, so it doesn’t show that you’ve made much of an effort.
- Ramble. Be succinct, with a list of key elements. If you’ve had a ‘varied’ career and the roles don’t link in with the job you’re applying for, feel free to gloss over, or extract, the key pieces of info that somehow make up that special little nugget called ‘relevant experience’.
- Just include your qualifications and educational background, even if you’re straight of out school/college/uni. Employers want to know about your life experience, even if it was helping at scouts, volunteering for a charity or that Saturday job you had on the doe farm, it all involves dealing with people and building skills. Tell employers what you learnt from these experiences – just don’t lead with ‘I never want to do stock check for Tesco’s ever again’.
- Get your mum to write it. Get a trusted friend or colleague to read it over, check for typos and spelling mistakes, but employers can spot Mum (or Dad) CVs a mile off.
- Add referees to the end of your CV if you haven’t checked with them that they’re happy to provide one. You’d be amazed how many people do this – and your sixth-from-last previous employer may not remember you, rate or like you.