Posted by: wordsmithsuk | August 19, 2010

Spruce up your CV


CV writing is a vital skill at any time – but it’s particularly important now for anyone thinking of sprucing up their CV in the current climate of public sector cutbacks and downsizing.

Employers often ask for a CV rather than an application form. The reason is that CVs encourage people to present themselves in their own way. For applicants, CVs are an opportunity to work out how to persuade prospective employers that they are exactly the person required for the vacancy.

The best way to create an impressive CV is to put yourself in the position of the person carrying out the recruiting. This will help you to make sure that you include the information that they want – rather than what you want to write.

Because CVs are such a vital part of landing the job you want, it’s vital to make sure that yours will create the right impression with the people who are going to be reading it. Remember – the purpose of the CV is to get an interview. It’s not an opportunity to note down the story of your entire life. To make the right impact, your CV has to be brief and relevant.

Getting it right

A useful start in developing an effective CV is to look at examples that others have produced. There’s a good selection of books that will give you this information, or you can ask friends to show you successful CVs that they have written. This is a valuable way of identifying what you mean by a ‘good’ CV, and it will help you to set your personal standards. In addition, you should not be afraid to develop your own style – because this is what will make your CV more interesting for those who will read it.

Get in touch with us if you want some free examples of what we mean by good CVs.

Features to include

These are  the features that make CVs stand out from the crowd.

  • They have a logical structure, with a beginning (brief overview), middle (brief relevant details about education, work experience and voluntary work) and end (a short description of the applicant’s interests and contact details of referees)
  • They highlight your measureable achievements and transferable skills, rather than what you actually did.
  • They make good use of side headings and key words: Side headings help readers find the information they are looking for. Key words convince the speedy reader that you are the person they need.
  • They are written in plain English: they use straightforward and unambiguous language and avoid using management-speak, archaic terms or stock CV phrases.
  • They are short: Your CV needs to communicate all the major points in two pages or less.

Remember, no-one is going to read through your CV word-by-word. Recruiters will skim it in no more than about 30 seconds, scanning the layout and picking up key words and phrases as they go.

Your CV should demonstrate both that you are the right person for the job and that you are different enough to be worth interviewing. It should be personal, engaging and professional. But remember that employers are unlikely to be impressed by a gimmicky CV presented on coloured or luminous paper or which include cartoons or family photographs.

What you don’t need to include

You do not need to need to include details of:

  • Your marital status (this is not relevant)
  • Your age (your education/work history dates are enough)
  • Your cycling proficiency badge or your poetry reading certificate.

Get in touch for if you would like your CV – or your report, newsletter, brochure or article – tweaked by Word Smiths’ ‘document doctor’ service.

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