Make every word count
Your CV is often the first – and last – opportunity for your application to stand out. In the time it takes for a hiring manager or recruiter to scan your CV (the time seemingly being in inverse proportion to how many CVs are in the pile) you need to show you’re a strong enough candidate to make it to the next round.
Help your reader make this decision quickly by making it easy to find key information. Keep your CV short – one or two pages is a generally accepted length – and eliminate any waffle.
How to make every word count in your CV
– Only include your most relevant career history information. This means work experience which has a direct bearing on what you’re now applying for, or where you can show achievements or skills learnt that are important to your new employer.
Recruiters often look at only the last five years of work, but if your career spans much longer, or you want to show continuity of employment, list older experience at the end of your career history section, mentioning only dates, company and position held. One line is fine for each position.
If you’ve had a whole string of recent temp jobs, consider giving the name of the agency as your “employer” along with the dates worked. You could briefly list your most interesting achievements under this heading, rather than naming all the companies you worked for.
– Avoid repetition by grouping important information in one place. For example, put your key skills in a professional summary or skills profile section at the beginning of your CV, rather than mentioning the same skills in every position you have held.
Similarly, avoid listing all your responsibilities for each job you’ve had. Instead, select a couple of notable highlights that demonstrate what you’ve done and put them in a Key Achievements section. Underneath this you can put your Career History section, and mention companies, dates worked and positions held.
– Cut out all personal information except your contact information.This means no hobbies or interests unless they are really, really interesting. If your interests are the run-of-the-mill “socialising” or “cooking”, leave them off your CV.
– Use bullet points rather than long, descriptive paragraphs. Someone will be scanning (rather than processing the information) on the first reading, so make sure the key points are visible.
– Put the most important information first. If a job advert stresses a particular skill, experience or qualification, make sure this is highlighted at, or very near, the beginning of your CV. Don’t make your reader search through acres of text to find out whether you are qualified for the job.
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