How To Build A Strong CV
Everyone has different ideas about how to write the perfect CV. The truth is there’s no such thing. A strong CV can be written any number of ways, and different employers look for different approaches. The key is that it represents you, clearly and succinctly.
Here are five simple techniques that will make for a strong CV.
1. Keep It Concise
Employers won’t spend very long reading your CV. It shouldn’t tell your life story. Make sure it’s concise and to the point; save some details for the interview. A strong CV should be no more than two pages of A4.
2. Tailor It
They say job hunting is a full time role, and it’s true. It can take a lot of time. So it’s sometimes tempting to adopt the ‘scatter-gun approach’, and shoot off the same CV to a hundred different employers. Throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. But this is not the best way to catch an employers attention, and they will be able to tell if you’ve sent them the same CV you send to everyone.
A small amount of personalization goes a long way. Make sure you research the company and refer to the job advert to figure out exactly which skills you wish to highlight. For different applications, some aspects of your CV will be more relevant than others, so you want to guide the employer to your relevant strengths.
You should also include a personal statement, either at the top or the bottom of your CV, that name-checks the company, and explains why you’re the best candidate for the job. Don’t rely on the employer to infer how your experience relates to the role, join the dots on their behalf.
Once you get into the habit of tailoring your CV, you’ll still be able to send off multiple applications, except each one will be more suited to its purpose, and therefore more effective.
3. Be Honest
The adage that ‘everyone lies on their CV’ is completely wrong. Most people don’t, and those who do, often get caught. If employers take an interest in you, they will likely perform a background check and corroborate your references. If they find out you’ve been lying, they will discard your application. The more you exaggerate your experiences in your CV, the more likely you are to get caught out in an interview.
If you find yourself tempted to embellish your experiences, or even make them up completely, use this temptation as inspiration to create real experiences. Put in the real-life groundwork to make your CV standout.
4. Account For Gaps
Prospective employers can be cynical, and gaps in your CV can arouse suspicion. Make sure you account for any gaps, and again be honest. Employers don’t mind if you’ve been out of work, so long as you have something to show for it.
For example, ‘Here I took six months maternity/paternity leave’, or ‘Here I took a year out to go travelling’. Gaps aren’t necessarily negative, it’s only hiding them that’s dangerous.
Taking time off can be the sign of a rounded individual, so don’t brush over gaps; put a positive spin on them. Perhaps you undertook a course, gained new skills or organized an event. Even if the gaps weren’t filled with professional experiences, they’ll still connote positive attributes, and they may even help you stand out from the crowd.
5. Make It Look Good
Your CV should be eye catching and easy to read. Use bullet points and short sentences. Avoid dense and lengthy paragraphs. Make sure the layout is clear and aesthetically pleasing.
If in doubt you can find strong CV templates online. Although it might be best to amalgamate two templates that you think look good, as sending off a pre-designed format can seem amateur. When you send your CV, attach it as a PDF, and make sure it’s saved with an appropriate title.
Remember, a CV is a means to an end; its only purpose is to secure an interview. Keep it concise, clear, and honest. Make sure it looks neat and reads easily. Above all, personalize your CV, and make sure it represents you.