How to Create a Winning CV
What is a CV?
A CV (curriculum vitae), also known as a resume, is usually asked for by potential employers when applying for a job. Put simply, this is a document containing information about who you are, and what you can offer to the employer. This should be details about your work experience, education and qualifications for the job you are applying to. It can also include information about your hobbies and interests, as this will show the employer the sort of person you are.
The combination of everything on the CV can be a major factor as far as influencing an employer, and if written well can increase your chances of getting an interview. Todays job market can be tough to crack, so you will need to have a great CV to stand out from the other applicants.
So, where do you start?
The first and most obvious step is to begin with your name and contact details (address, phone number(s) and email) at the top. Then add a short profile about yourself. This should only be one paragraph, and should outline your areas of experience, along with what you are looking for in a job. Take a look at the example below, taken from my own CV...
"An experienced administrator with proven expertise in many areas such as purchase and sales ledger, customer service and HR administration. Hard working, reliable and easily adaptable to new situations, environments and procedures. A confident people person, equally capable of working efficiently independently or as part of a team. Now looking for a new challenging and rewarding position utilising the wide variety of skills already gained whilst continuing to learn and expand on this experience."
Next think about the skills you can offer to an employer. Under a new heading, list these (just four or five) so that they stand out . They could be something like...
"Works well under pressure with ability to meet deadlines"
"Excellent communication skills; works well with people of all ages, and at all levels"
"Positive and professional attitude"
Next, list your previous jobs in chronological order, starting with the most recent. This should include dates employed (from and to), employers name and your job title. Also add some details of your responsibilities within each job, so that the potential employer can get an idea of what you've done. If there are any achievements you are particularly proud of, also include these here.
As ever with CV writing, take your time over the wording, to make sure the important details stand out. However, don't make this too wordy, as your finished CV should really be no more than two pages of A4. If it becomes too long, the employer may get bored, or miss the details you are trying to highlight!
Education and Qualifications
Again, your educational achievements need to be listed in chronologial order. Be sure to include your school/ college/ university name along with the dates attended, and of course, the qualifications gained.
If you have gone on to further study for professional/ vocational qualifications, it is always best to add these under a separate heading from the academic ones.
Keep the layout consistant, and this will look better to the eye of the reader. It will also show the employer that you have good organisational skills.
Check out the following for more help...
Hobbies and Interests
The last heading on your CV should be for your hobbies and interests. This only needs to be one short paragraph, and while it may seem trivial, it will give the employer more of a sense of who you are as a person. This is beneficial as they can then see where you would fit in with the existing team.
The Covering Letter
One factor that can be overlooked is the importance of a good covering letter to send with your CV. The basic structure can start something like this...
Dear Sir or Madam
I am writing to apply for the (job title) position as advertised (state where you saw the advert for the job).
As you will see from my CV, my work experience to date has been very varied, and would fit very well with your job description as advertised.
I would be grateful if you would consider my application for his post, and I look forward to your reply.
However, this is a very basic letter.
When writing a covering letter, it is better to take another look at the advert, and take note of the skills and experience the employer is looking for. Then these can be incorporated into the letter.
For example, if they are looking for a person with sales experience, you can add a paragraph, which details what sales experience you have and with which employer. Tell them how you were able to close a sale, and how much you enjoyed doing this. The employer will then be directed to this section of your CV for more information.
Even if you haven't got the exact experience they are looking for, tell them how you are able to pick up new skills easily. If you can show that you are very interested in taking your career in a new direction (their direction), and that you are capable of learning, this may be enough to compensate for your lack of experience. However, this will of course depend on the competition!
If you have anything else you want to say on your CV, but are unable to find a category that fits, it is best to create a separate section for "Further Information". However, again be brief. If your CV is too long, it may not get noticed as easily.
Another thing to remember is that if you are applying for more than one type of job, you can tailor your CV and covering letter to suit. By emphasising different aspects of your personality and experience, you can improve your chances of getting interviews for different types of jobs.
Finally, with every section on your CV, you need to take time over the wording and the layout. Remember, a rushed CV can look sloppy, and unprofessional.