A well thought out CV is an important tool in helping you land the job you want, here are some hints and tips to help get it right.
The art of writing a CV boils down to condensing all relevant factual information about yourself into two short pages, and subtly drawing attention to your plus points. It should be well laid out, accessible and compelling: recruiters are unlikely to spend much longer than 30 seconds on first impressions. It should be neither too long nor too short, and neither too self-congratulatory nor too modest.
As well as your name and contact details a CV has two crucial elements:
A list of academic and professional qualifications
Details of your professional, university and school qualifications, listed in chronological order. Include exam results and the institutions you attended.
Begin with your most recent employer and work backwards. You will need to include the name of the organisation, your title, and dates of employment. Use bullet points briefly to explain the nature of each role and the skills used.
In this section, you'll need to provide the most detailed information for your most recent and most relevant roles; more chronologically distant positions should be summarised. You can and should highlight different aspects of your work experience when applying for different jobs.
You can also add some optional elements to a CV, such as:
A short profile
Placed at the head of a CV, this should include a brief but engaging description of your key talents (eg. Fluency in French and German), and a summary of your work history (eg. seven years' experience as a risk analyst at leading US and European investment banks). It should be no more than 50 words long, and adapted to suit the position you're applying for.
Interests and achievements
Don't go overboard – employers are unlikely to share your passion for koi carp or remote controlled helicopters. However, it may be worth drawing a potential employer's attention to the fact you've climbed Everest or cycled from Land's End to John O'Groats. If you decide to offer information on your leisure interests, place it after the section on work experience.
When crafting your CV, there are a few things to avoid:
- Elaborate fonts: no one wants to read about your past experience in an illegible text.
- Spelling mistakes
- A detailed exposition of your school grades or Saturday job at Burger King. Unless you're a recent school leaver or university graduate, recruiters will be more interested in advanced qualifications and relevant work experience
- Very long and excruciatingly verbose sentences of the kind that require considerable effort to decipher but ultimately communicate very little, if anything, of any real importance
Lies: there's no point in saying you've spent the past three years working for a top US bank or a big four accounting firm if you spent that period on a beach in Thailand. All our candidates are screened carefully: you will be find out. If you have spent time out of the market that may be fine, but be prepared to explain why.