Guest post by Jess O’Donnell
The job market is extremely competitive, now more than ever, and employers aren’t settling for second best. Even though unemployment is on the decline, the number of applications per single job post is much higher than it was 10, or even 5 years ago.
Employers want to hire the best and most experienced individual for the job. They want someone that has the whole package – a degree, relevant skills, experience… You get my drift.
Fresh out of education, many students have the degree, but lack the relevant skills and experience that employers are looking for. So, what can you do?
Your CV is a powerful tool that if used correctly can help you get that much needed foot in the door. Whether you apply directly for a role or employ the help of a recruitment consultant, your CV needs to be in top condition. Here’s what you need to do.
Your CV needs to include skills and experience, without it you are unlikely to land an interview. You might not have a great deal of work experience; however, university alone provides you with a lot more experience than you might think.
For example, if you were a member of a university society, sports team or volunteer group, you will have likely developed team work, decision making, communication skills and more.
Be sure to make a list of all of the relevant skills you have developed and how you developed them. The latter part of this sentence is very important. You must be able to back up all of your statements. Simply saying that you have great communication skills isn’t enough; you need to demonstrate where and how you gained them.
Identifying your skills and experience creates a great base for beginning your CV.
- Think about the order and length
The order of you CV is very important. I find that this layout works well;
– Key achievements & Skills
– Employment history (if you have any)
– Work experience
– Personal info i.e. awards, interests
– Contact information
Give each section a clear heading so that the employer can jump from section to section without having to scan through the whole document. Be sure to keep it short, no employer has the desire, or time for that matter to sit down and work through a 10 page CV. The recommended number of pages is 2. Try to keep it around this figure but don’t worry if you go slightly over, 3 pages is fine.
- Tailor your CV to suit the role
Creating and using one CV to apply for numerous roles is a huge mistake. It’s not often that you will find two roles that are exactly the same, so why should this be the case for your CV? Make sure you read the job specification thoroughly and tailor your CV match.
If the job specification is brief give the employer a call. By doing this, not only will you be able to find out more about the role but you’ll stand out simply because you picked up the phone.
- Cut out the irrelevant information
This ties in nicely with point 3. All of the information on your CV should be completely relevant to the role that you are applying for. So when you are tailoring your CV, make sure you cut out anything irrelevant.
- Image is everything
Focus on breaking down the information on your CV. A list of 5 bullet points with highlighted keywords is much more appealing than a chunky paragraph of text. Not only is it more appealing to the eye, but the information is a lot easier to digest. Great if the employer is just skimming through.
Make sure your CV is grammatically correct and completely free of typos. It’s always a good idea to have a couple of friends or family members read through just in case you have missed anything.
- Don’t lie
There’s a big difference between jazzing things up and outright lying. Be careful you don’t cross that line. Chances are you will get found out.
References are hugely important; if you don’t have any employers will probably wonder why. Contact your university mentors or lecturers; I’m sure they will be happy to provide you with a reference.
- Contact details
Include your full contact details. Just your mobile number isn’t enough. Employers will not hang around if they can’t get in touch with you. Include your mobile number, home number (even if it’s your parents – they can always take a message for you), and your e-mail address, one that you check on a regular basis.
Your CV is every employer’s first impression of you. Follow these tips and create a stand out CV to ensure your first impression is the best it can possibly be!
Jess O’Donnell is a frequent blogger of all things career and recruitment related. Currently working at Frazer John Recruitment, a Manchester based recruitment consultancy, Jess contributes to their blog offering great career tips and advice for all those looking to move forward in their careers.