CV Advice – Top 10 Tips for an Effective CV

It is important to remember that the principal role of your CV is to facilitate an introduction to a potential employer and is therefore essentially a sales document for ‘you’. The primary purpose is therefore to highlight your strengths and suitability for the role applied to, by summarising your core skills and relevant experience.

There is no a ‘one size fits all’ solution, but your CV should instead be tailored to be as compelling as possible to the reader.

Here are our top ten (condensed) tips for an effective CV / Resume:

  1. Include a profile. This is your opportunity to match your skills against the specific role for which you are applying and should be customised for each application. Avoid general profiles that will rarely be as compelling to the reader.
  2. List your key skills and competencies at the start of your CV.
  3. Outline your main achievements. These can be picked throughout your career and can either be listed together on page one, or shown within each entry of your Employment History.
  4. Do not include a picture on your CV. Readers will focus more on your appearance and can subconsciously make YES / NO decisions before you have an opportunity to meet to explain your true strengths and capabilities.
  5. Ensure there are no gaps on your CV that are unaccounted for, since this leaves the reader wondering and they will often assume the worst.
  6. Your Employment History should be listed in reverse chronological order and should show the start and finish dates (in month and year format). If your previous employers are unlikely to be known by the reader, include a brief company description and/or URL link. Earlier employment, that is less relevant to your current application, can be summarised, briefly at the end of this section.
  7. Include all relevant qualifications, professional memberships and other industry certifications / accreditations, along with the educational establishment or awarding body and additional relevant training and development.
  8. Include a skills matrix, if appropriate, at the end of your CV. This is to ensure key words aren’t missed when searched, as well as giving the reader a good understanding of the spread and level of your skills.
  9. Include your interests and pastimes but be careful not to include something that could potentially leave the reader with a negative impression, or taht you would struggle to substantiate at interview.
  10. Have a second party proofread your CV. It’s difficult to spot our own mistakes, and a second set of eyes could not only help with any typographical errors, they could make suggestions about an awkward sentence or give you a layout tip that you hadn’t thought of.

Please remember that the reader of your CV is likely to be extremely busy, so it is critical that they are able to identify your key skills and experience from an initial skim read. We would therefore recommend using bullets (bullet points that is, rather than resorting to firearms) with short, easy to read sentences and avoid large blocks of heavy going text.

Please always remember that your CV is your personal marketing tool and it is well worth investing time and energy into making it as compelling a proposition as possible. Whilst your CV should remain as concise as possible it is not always necessary to keep it to just 2 pages, as we sometimes hear being recommended. It is now more important that your CV comprehensively displays all of your core skills and experience. The reason for this is that most Recruiter’s and Employer’s now use text searching to initially identify potentially suitable candidates, even before starting the shortlisting process and if your CV doesn’t include their key words, you won’t even be in the running!

To help we have put together a blank CV template, appended with an example CV.

And don’t forget about the all important cover letter. A compelling cover letter is critical to your application, for the following reasons:

  • It demonstrates your ability to communicate far more accurately than your CV, which is likely to have been constructed/refined with the help of trusted friends or perhaps even a professional CV writer.
  • It is your only opportunity to draw the reader’s attention to your skills and experience that are most relevant to this particular role and what you can bring to their company/department, which is especially crucial if this does not appear (or is not obvious) in your standard CV.
  • An effective cover letter, whilst being concise, will incorporate a little of the Job Seeker’s own personality, making them stand out from the crowd, which is critical when considering how many applications the reader may be reviewing (ie skim-reading) at a time.

Of course, our Recruitment Consultants are always available to give personalised advice on your CV and cover letter to ensure you have the best possible opportunity of securing an interview, so why not get in touch?