How To Create A Career-Defining CV
The importance of marketing yourself to perspective employers
We all know how vital it is to make a good first impression, and for a recruiter the first indication of star quality is the CV. So what kind of CV makes a stunning first impression and, conversely, what gives a bad one? Here, Emily Carew-Gibbs, specialist financial services marketing recruiter from Hudson, offers her advice on promoting yourself to prospective employers.
Is the CV easy to read?
Paragraph and format your text to avoid huge, intimidating blocks of text. Bullet points and separate sections per role for ‘responsibilities’ and ‘achievements’ make it easy for the reader to pick out key words and relevant experience. Use a sensible and easy-to-read font and lay out your key points so that they are clear; this way the reader won’t miss anything important and your CV is more likely to be read in a positive frame of mind. It might sound fussy but it’s important to ensure formatting is consistent and that you use the same tense throughout.
Top tip: CVs should always be written in the 3rd person.
Is your career history clear?
Your previous experience has a huge influence on which jobs employers and recruiters think you are suitable for. If your career history is not clear, then employers and recruiters may make the wrong decisions regarding your suitability. If however, the skills and experience you have gained within your roles are clear, recruiters will then be able to quickly ascertain if they can help you and will have a good idea of the types of roles for which you would be suitable.
Top tip: Make sure your dates at each company are clear and correct.
Presentation is crucial
It is important that employers and recruiters can decipher the skills and background that you have, but bear in mind that we will also read between the lines. It is no good saying you have a great eye for detail if your CV is rife with errors. Spelling mistakes are also a big no-no; that goes without saying. To avoid this, spell-check and proof-read the whole document every time you make a change.
Top tip: if you’re not that great with spelling and grammar, ask someone you can trust to check over your CV for you.
What are you talking about?
Have a think about your CV as a whole rather than each role individually: many candidates take their old CV and just add their most recent role on top of the existing content, but if you read through your previous roles, you may find the information you have included from your first job after school is not as relevant as it was ten years ago. Therefore, it is worth considering only keeping the information which is relevant to the role you are looking for.
Another common slip-up candidates make is tailoring their CV for a particular role and then using it to apply for a completely different role, for example including: “I am really interested in the permanent Brand Manager position” in your cover letter or profile when you are applying for a six month Marketing Manager role! Always double check the content of your application as mistakes like this are an instant red flag for any hiring manager.
Top tip: review your cover letters against your CV for each role you apply for to make sure they match.
One succinct paragraph as a profile is normally sufficient. Please remember that a personal statement is not a replacement for a covering letter. Instead, the first paragraph of your CV should be a short summary of who you are, what you’ve done and where you’re aiming to get to. Don’t fall into the trap of including masses of personal information – your contact details are the most important bit and there is no need to include a photo.
Top tip: if you are applying through a recruiter or agency, most recruiters will take out all contact information (including photos) before sending your details to a client.
Is it true?
Don’t feel the need to “stretch the truth” in your CV: trust me, we’ve seen it all before! If you had a three month gap in your CV, make sure you declare it. If you have had a series of contract/interim roles, then it is always worth acknowledging the contracts on your CV. My advice would be, don’t leave anything to the imagination and be prepared to answer questions around any gaps or contract roles.
Generally, as long as your CV contains relevant information, is tailored for the role you are applying for and is under four pages you should find that you will have success with it. It is important to remember your contact details, industry-specific key words and of course to sell yourself and your skills!