How to create a killer CV

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I am often asked to critique a CV or asked; “how do I best to create a good one?” My response is always the same that is to start with the end in mind, which is the job you want. You have got to give the recruiter/hiring manager what they want, which is a CV that clearly describes the skills, qualifications and experience they need. Let me explain.

The most common mistake candidates make is to create a CV that either list as many skills and experiences as they can think of, in the hope that something will be of interest to someone, which in fact only muddies the water. Or the other common mistake candidates make is to create a CV that is focused on their current job, which is fine if you are looking for a very similar job to your current position in just say another location.

If however you are looking for an upwards step or move into a totally new industry or have very little experience like a recent grad, you will need to spend a little more time thinking about how you can best present yourself as your CV is a “sales document” (a document used to sell the features, advantages and benefits of a said item, which in this case is you), and if you are not giving people what they need, your CV will be treated as SPAM by hiring managers.

So what do I do? I hear you say.

Firstly you study the job specification or advert really hard and make a note of all the aspects of the requirement that you do actually have. Let’s say it is a job of a TV Food Critique

You then set the right tone at the start by describing your profile of an aspiring food critique with experience of dinning in various restaurants or of being a chief and being trained in the preparation of classic French dishes etc. The key thing is to describe yourself as a match for the role!

Next, you omit as much non-relevant information as possible as less is more, which means if you have been working as a library assistant for the past 10 years, you do not need to describe every duty such as checking books in and out but highlight that you have developed an extensive vocabulary. Use the space to illustrate suitability, which means you may want to provide links to other product reviews you have critiqued as an example.

Chronologically list relevant experience that highlights achievements and try to be as concise as you can, maybe by using bullet points and for every item you include, think to yourself “so what?” If it is relevant to demonstrating suitability keep it, if not, leave it out.

The only other do’s and don’ts are to:

  • Do have all your contact details (Sounds obvious but so many people do not put a mobile number on their CV)
  • Do use just one font throughout
  • Simple elegance is best
  • Do use spell check
  • If you are applying for different types of jobs create a new document for each applicant and tailor it to each requirement
  • Don’t have a photo, date of birth, religion or ethnic origin
  • Do indicate nationality

If you do that and follow up with a call a few days later you will increase your chance of success by at least 50%.

If you do not have any relevant skills or experience for the job you want you will have to gain them and ideally it will be in paid employment but it could be from voluntary work, private enterprise, education or a hobby.

Good luck.

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