CV Writing Tips

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A great CV makes searching for a new or your first job easy, while an ineffective CV will leave you with nothing to show from your applications.

When it comes to formulating the perfect CV for the perfect job opportunity, it’s important to remember that first impressions really do count.

Taking into consideration that recruiters and hiring managers receiving your CV will only spend a few seconds roughly skimming the main information to determine whether or not you’re a possible candidate for the job on offer, it’s no surprise that most individuals never make it past this stage.

Whether due to not having enough experience or simply having an incomplete CV, it’s important to keep the following CV writing tips in mind:


The Do’s and Don’ts of CV Writing:

Do this…

  1. Follow the correct format
    You need to maximize the impact of your application, your CV should immediately draw attention to your qualifications and skills, not detract from them. If you get the basics right, you are sure to be noticed by the right people.

    • Begin with your personal and contact information
    • Then include a Personal Statement. A personal statement can help identify your strengths and immediately show that you have the right qualifications and
      skills for the job.
    • Now you list your education and qualifications, professional memberships and registrations, publications etc.
    • Next you include your skills, abilities and achievements
    • Work history and experience in chronological format. Hiring Managers prefer a chronological resume with the most recent work history first.
    • Finalize your CV with interests, hobbies and voluntary work

     

  2. Customise your CV
    Never send the same CV for each position you apply to. Customise it to ensure that the right information is added to each copy of your CV in order to highlight your skills and qualifications that match the job description. Yes, it takes a little bit of time, but it’ll be worth it when you land the job.
  3. Explain gaps in your work history
    Rather than leaving hiring managers wondering why there is a gap in your work history, including brief reasons explaining it. For example: Sabbatical [Jan 2001 – Dec 2001] or Decided to study full time towards Master’s or PhD degree during 2010 – 2011, or Maternity leave [Mar 2016 – Aug 2016].
  4. Use bolded text strategically
    People don’t read like they used to. Don’t let your resume be a wall of undistinguished text that makes someone’s eyes glaze over. Punctuate your prose with bolded phrases to draw eyes to your jobs titles, accomplishments, education or anything else you want to highlight.
  5. Always check your spelling
    We all make spelling mistakes at some point in time, but you should never make those mistakes in your CV. It immediately puts you in a different light and could cost you the interview.

 


Don’t do this…

  1. Don’t include a photo with your CV
    unless you’re applying for a modelling contract. Rather include your LinkedIn url which should have a professional profile picture.
  2. Don’t Include your street address
    simply adding your suburb, town and region will suffice.
  3. Don’t overuse ALL CAPS
    When you use all caps in your resume, it gives the impression that you’re yelling at the reader and it’s difficult to read. Let your accomplishments stand for themselves. Don’t use special fonts or unnecessary capitalization to get your point across.
  4. Don’t use Times New Roman
    It’s outdated; opt instead for standard modern fonts like Arial, Calibri or Georgia. The ideal font size is 11. Remember, the hiring manager will be scanning your CV so it needs to be nice and easy to read.
  5. Don’t be vague
    Being vague when describing your duties and responsibilities or your technical skills can be very off-putting and doesn’t tend to favour well on applications. This can be very difficult for hiring managers and recruiters to really understand what your involvement was, your expertise is and your suitability for a specific job.
  6. Don’t refer to yourself in the third person
    Hiring managers feel this comes across as egotistical.

 

How to refer to yourself in your CV:
Always an interesting subject – some opting to take the “I” approach, others opting for the third person approach or no pronoun.

Let’s take a look at each approach and talk through the benefits and pitfalls when using them:

Using “I” – a common method, put in context this would usually be used like this:
“I was responsible for doing xxxx” or “I have a team of xxx” – although you are keeping the emphasis on what you did it does tend to look unprofessional.

The third person – referring to yourself in the third person such as “John was engaged in xxxx”, this style can work but be careful of grammatical errors and confusion in the CV. Also, clients feel this line comes across as egotistical.

No pronoun – this is a good choice of tactic for a CV, avoiding using any personal pronoun by making statements such as, “Managed the technical team on the xxx project to produce xxxx”, makes for easy reading and gets to the point.

Here are example profiles in all the above styles – which do you think works best?

Example 1: Using “I”
I am an experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back my practice (APMP & MSP). I have overall programme responsibility for corporate-wide initiatives; I lead a team of 10 project managers and I also have hands-on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing a business’ ability to achieve its goals. I have good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross-functionally within the organisation.

Example 2: using the third person
John Smith is an experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back up his practice (APMP & MSP). John has overall programme responsibility for corporate-wide initiatives; leading a team of 10 project managers and hands-on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing a business’ ability to achieve its goals. John also boasts good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross-functionally within the organisation.

Example 3: using no pronoun
An experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back up the practice (APMP & MSP). Overall programme responsibility for corporate-wide initiatives; leading a team of 10 project managers and hands-on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing a business’ ability to achieve its goals. Good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross functionally within the organisation.

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