1. DETAIL SCHMEETAIL!
You don’t need to list everything you’ve ever done, every module you’ve ever studied, every duty you had whilst doing temp work in an office / shop / warehouse. Employers and recruiters know what a shop assistant does and what an English degree is. They don’t need an explanatory list.
2. GIVE ME HEADLINES
A CV is an introduction, an invitation to find out more, not a life story. Turn it into a marketing document, a sales pitch. Make it interesting, intriguing even, with facts, figures, highlights that raise an eyebrow and pique curiosity. Make them want to find out more. That’s the point of a CV!
3. GRAB ME…AND BE QUICK ABOUT IT
If your most impressive achievement is, for example, representing your country at international athletics events as a junior, tell them that in the first line or two of the CV. Don’t hide it under the ‘Hobbies & Interests’ section at the end – they might not get that far.
4. MAKE IT AN EASY READ
Whilst intrigue is great, employers don’t want to have to read your CV several times, piecing together information that is badly presented and difficult to follow. Present it to them in a way they can read easily and understand immediately. Always include dates and don’t leave gaps. They’re suspicious.
5. WHO ARE YOU?!
Don’t forget to show your passions, your interests and your hobbies. They say a lot about you. And give detail. ‘Reading, socialising and sport’ is meaningless. If these are your passions, show some enthusiasm and describe them in a way that illustrates your personality – that’s what sells.
6. TAILOR IT. PLEASE
Employers recognise that you’re not only applying to them but at least show them the respect to tailor your CV to them and to their sector. Easily done by changing a few words in your introduction or summary, it speaks volumes about your commitment and attention to detail. (If you can’t find ways to match yourself to their market, why are you applying?)
7. A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
A controversial one here for some people but we like a photograph on CVs. Yes, of you. You don’t need film star looks – or even soap opera star looks – but it gives humanity and warmth to what can be charmless, and literally faceless, document. Again, it’s showing people who you are.
8. LOSE THE HUMILITY
There are times for humility and times to fly your flag confidently without fear of sounding too big for your boots. A CV is not the time for humility and, no, that doesn’t mean you need to be arrogant. There’s a middle way that shows your skills, your achievements, your potential and makes employers excited about you. If you can’t sell yourself well, why give you a sales job?
9. CHECK IT. THEN AGAIN
When employers find mistakes in CVs, it’s not that they think you are unsuitable because you’re capable of making mistakes – that would count us all out. It raises other, more serious, questions: “Why didn’t you check this, especially when Word can do most of it? Why didn’t you get someone else to check it? How serious are you about this role?”
10. CLEAR, SIMPLE ENGLISH
There are no prizes – and no sales jobs – for using long, complex words and grammar on your CV. Employers are looking for effective communicators who can put across ideas in simple, easy-to understand language. Short sentences. Simple language. Both are winners.