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7 steps to a killer CV

When you’re looking for a new job the first thing you should do is invest some time in giving your CV (or biodata or resume) an overhaul.

The CV is a powerful tool and has a number of applications once it’s in the hands of a potential recruiter:

  • It’s a ‘sales pitch’ to tell the recruiter enough to decide you’re worth inviting for interview
  • It’s a means of demonstrating the breadth of your experience
  • For technical roles it’s a way to highlight your expertise
  • It can give clues to how you work
  • It’s the basis for any interviewer’s questions

These are 7 steps that will give your CV more power.

Don’t waste space!

Your personal contact information should not take up half of the first page. Tidy it up and present it as a header e.g.

Josephine Bloggs   07890 123456
1 My Street, Townland AB1 CD2

That’s all that’s required at this point. You don’t need to provide your date of birth, age, marital status, the state of your driving licence or any other miscellaneous data.

Be professional

Steer clear of quirky email addresses, or are not professional. It’s easy to set up a professional email address with your proper name – especially if you’re applying for technical role. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that hotmail, gmail, aol, btinternet, etc will go unnoticed.

Stick to the facts

Anything on your CV that is not based on reality should be left out. So no fabrications, no stretching employment dates to cover gaps, no aspirational personal statements that are purely to impress, no ‘interests’ that you haven’t been involved in for years. Your CV should be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It will shoot your application (and your reputation) in the foot if it’s anything else.

Only two pages

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how many jobs you’ve had, nobody wants to read more than two pages. In fact, most recruiters will read the first page and take a quick glance at page 2. If your key achievements are on page 2 they could be missed.

Personal Statement

This should always be in the first person e.g. ‘I’; never refer to yourself in the third person ‘Joe has ten years of experience in …’ it’s your CV it shouldn’t sound like someone else has written it. Keep it realistic, if your aspirations are ‘to run my own international consultancy’ when you’re applying for junior grade posts, it doesn’t improve your case. If you’re saying it when applying for a senior role it implies that you might not stay long.

Don’t list every responsibility

If your last job was a programmer it’s unnecessary to include in your role description that you were responsible programming X or Y project. That goes without saying. Instead include any responsibilities that are not usually associated with this particular role – or any achievements you’re proud of.

The more specific you can get about results the better – i.e. I was responsible for revamping the department’s operating processes which improved efficiency and resulted in 11% increased output for the department overall.

Don’t include…

    • Your age or date of birth: your age is irrelevant, the focus should be on whether you can do the job – or not.
    • References: these will be requested when the company are ready to offer you the job.
    • Details of roles held more than 10 years ago (other than dates, company, position): anything that you’ve done more than 10 years ago is ancient history!

If you keep your CV focused and full of relevant information you have a much better chance of getting invited for interview.

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