All things CV!
A CV is a document that details your work history, education, and skills. There are many companies and platforms that provide the service of CV writing to jobseekers. Creating a CV is an important part of a job hunt and time, and effort should be put into the process to ensure that you stand out from the crowd!
A great deal of time as a recruitment consultant, with new vacancies flooding each week, is spent reading CVs and so here are some tips to help you shape your CV so that employment agencies, head-hunters and potential employers see the best of you through your CV. When you are actively looking for a job, your CV will pass through many different hands, sometimes reviewed thoroughly by the recruitment company before being passed to the hiring manager and sometimes going direct to the hiring company and in order to make the best connection, you need the best CV.
When creating your CV, it is important to think about how you want it to look in regard to formatting, and layout, what information you use, the order in which the information will be presented and whether you use colours. There are many helpful templates in word that you can use to either give you inspiration for building your own CV or you can actually use them and input your information on to one of the designs.
While templates are very useful, it is important to remember that these templates are accessible to all word users and the template you use may not be unique to you.
Remembering the industry that you are applying to is a very important element to consider when designing your CV. For example, if you are applying for roles in marketing, it may be appropriate to fashion your CV in an eye catching, colourful and creative way to demonstrate your creative skill set.
Some may argue that the design is not overly important when it comes to a CV and that the content matters the most, which is fair point to make. However, as a recruitment consultant, I can offer the opinion that while I also believe that the most important part of a CV is the information that it holds, a CV that I can see has had some thought and effort put into the aesthetic stands out and becomes memorable to me. It also gives me the impression that the owner of the CV is taking their job hunt seriously and cares greatly about how they are represented.
When I think about the structure of the perfect CV, I think about my many searches for CVs and the information that is important for me as a recruitment consultant to see at the top and on the first page. It is for me the name, contact details and location of the person that I find helpful to be at the top of CV. The reason being that these are important details that I will need to contact someone about a potential job opportunity and so they need to be easily accessible. The location is an important factor for me also as a recruiter because the location can determine the relevance to the vacancy, regardless of how great the CV is.
A personal statement should come next but should be brief and specific and relevant to the roles that you are applying for. Bear in mind that the rest of your CV will be detailing all of your work experience, the skills you used and the responsibilities you had, and so use your personal statement to convey personal characteristics and what is it you are looking for from your next role. A personal statement that goes on for a whole page is likely to overwhelm the reader and so a few lines of relevant information should do the trick.
Some people will put their education information next, and some may leave that until last. I think it is a matter of preference and relevance to the role being applied for. If the role being applied for requires certain qualifications and there is an emphasis on education in the job description, it may be a good idea to highlight these certifications and qualifications before work history. If there is less focus on education for the job you are applying for, then it would be perfectly fine to put your work history ahead of your education information.
Whether you choose to structure your CV highlighting your work history first or your education first, it is important to make these sections clear and easy to read. Some people opt for using a table to structure this information, some people use bullet points and which ever way you choose is fine as long as it is clear, well formatted, and easy to read.
With all of the most important information now on your CV, there are a couple of elements that I have seen on some CVs during my search that can have a positive impact. As a recruitment consultant I am working from a job description which generally gives me a list of key skills and requirements needed for the role. What can be really helpful is highlighting the skills that you have is making a list of the skills that you are competent in. For example:
- Proficiency in all Microsoft Office applications
- B2B sales/ B2C sales
- Customer service
- Fluent in French
- Account management
When deciding what skills you need to highlight to make it simple for the person reading your CV and potentially considering your suitability for a job, the best tool is the job that you are applying for. By utilising the job description or your knowledge of the requirements for this job, you can tailor your list of core competencies to demonstrate your capabilities for the job. Listing this information is not only a really useful way of demonstrating why you are a great fit for the job you are applying for, but it also shows that you have thoroughly understood the job description and have identified that you have the relevant skills. It is also a really helpful tool for recruiters, so thank you in advance, if you choose to add this to your CV!
When it comes to hobbies, it is really down to the individual whether or not to include a hobbies section. I personally really like this portion of a CV as I feel it gives me a little insight into a persons’ character being able to see the hobbies that they enjoy. It is also handy information for recruitment consultants like me or potential employers to add to the conversation when verbally speaking to a candidate, a way to break the ice with a comment referring to a hobby, something to relax the conversation and put both parties at ease.
Finally references, where some people choose to list names and contact details for people who can be contacted to give either a professional or personal character reference to a new employer. I do not think there is a right or a wrong answer to the question of whether or not to put references on CVs but personally when they are listed, I see this as a positive sign that, should this candidate get to the stage in the recruitment process when references are needed, that there will be less obstacles where some normally can arise. The onboarding process can be a lengthy and stressful one, and having references prepared and to hand on a CV could helpful.
Inserting information on to your CV should be fairly straightforward if you are writing the facts! It is important to give an accurate portrayal of your work history and of your skills and education, or else you will not only waste your time, being contacted by recruiters for jobs that you are not suitable for, but you also will not progress in your job search. There is a saying ‘fake it until you make it’, and although at times this can be a flippant phrase if you are having to learn on your feet, not feeling particularly confident and competent with something, it is not a great way to land yourself a job.
I am not saying that this strategy hasn’t worked for people before as I’m sure it has, but from experience in the recruitment industry, lying about qualifications and experience does not get anyone very far throughout the interview process. If you are dealing with a recruitment company like Pimento Connection, who provide a pre-screen interview service for the companies that they work with, it is likely that you will fall at the first hurdle and your CV will not reach the hiring manager’s desk.
Interview processes and pre-screening interviews are where you will need to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the things you are claiming to have experience with on your CV and so if you are found to have provided misleading information your application is likely to fail.
Personal statement content is where you can really let your personality shine and detail the personal characteristics that set you apart from the competition. It is the part that allows you to sell what you can offer to the company that you are applying to. It is likely that the person reading your CV will form a slight opinion as to whether or not you are the right fit for the job and whether the rest of your CV is going to be worth reading, so it is really important to capture their attention as quickly as possible.
Be aware of the way you describe yourself in your personal statement and try to use creative ways to describe yourself, avoiding fairly generic words, such as reliable, and loyal and hardworking. Instead use powerful words that are going to build a picture of your character and demonstrate your strengths and what you want to from your career. For example, confident, pro-active, organised, highly motivated, and determined, are hard hitting words that really convey strength and passion.
Look to the people that know you personally, that may have worked with you and can give you different perspective to your own on your character and ask for how they would describe you. Conduct research on the company to which you are applying and their culture and tailor your CV to demonstrate how you would fit in.
Work experience can be written many different ways and one is no more effective than the other. What is important is to display accurate dates of when you started a role and when you left, as this is a focus point for many employers so they can form an opinion of your commitment to a job. If there are gaps in employment this is not necessarily a negative in the eyes of an employer as long as there is an explanation, be it a detailed one or not.
Responsibilities and specific tasks being listed on a CV is also very helpful as this gives the reader an indication as to whether you have had experience with similar responsibilities to the role you are applying for. Not all responsibilities may feel relevant, but an experienced and effective recruiter could potentially establish a useful way to use these experiences to demonstrate your capabilities in areas you had not thought of.
Making sure that you are keeping in mind the role that you desire when writing your CV is absolutely key, as it encourages you to write in a tone that will resonate with the right types of employers. It also demonstrates a clear career objective and makes your focus and determination to land the right job obvious.
This same method can be applied to the education you have to list on your CV. If there are specific requirements regarding education in the job description or a particularly relevant qualification that you hold, these should be very evident and highlighted with details of the time frame spent earning the qualification and where it was studied.
So you have created a powerful CV…. What’s next?
With so many platforms now available to showcase your CV, and many of them for free, it is very easy to put yourself out there and open yourself up but to plenty of opportunities. There are many platforms that cater to all industries and sectors and are very popular and useful, but it may also be a good idea to conduct a little research on whether there are industry specific platforms that can really put your CV in to the spotlight and help you land your dream job!
With your well-crafted CV in play on various platforms it is likely that you will be contacted by many agencies and recruiters. Keep an open mind and explore the opportunities that come your way but stay focused on your goals and career objectives!
Sophie, Recruitment Account Manager