By Catherine Adenle
The Gym and Your CV
It takes an employer few seconds to decide whether to place your CV on the read or junk pile, so you have to find a way to make an impression quickly.
Your CV or Résumé is an essential career document that you need to represent yourself effectively before you physically meet potential employers. An effective CV accompanied by a strong cover letter will considerably boost your chances of getting a face-to-face interview by making the necessary impact in highlighting your relevant skills, experience and value to a potential employer.
If you want your CV to be in good shape, then, make sure it gets the workout it deserves by taking it to a CV gym for cardiovascular fitness, for it to lose some weight and get the oomph it deserves by putting it on the treadmill. At the CV gym which could be on top of your desk, desktop, or study desk, try out an exercise routine for your CV that will improve your career prospects: do a step by step CV-writing workout as shown below. You may not have the muscle tone to show for it at the end, but you will surely have an impressive tool to use in your job search. In the long run, the hard work will pay off and allow you to put your best foot forward with potential employers.
Use the information below to ensure your CV gets what it needs at the gym and for it to get noticed for the right reasons. An employer will expect to find information covering the following areas.
- Personal details – your name, address, phone numbers (landline and mobile) and e-mail address. Title saying Curriculum Vitae and details of your nationality, birth date, driving licence, and your picture are not necessary.
- Objective - establish a clear objective. While the main goal of this CV exercise may be to lose a little weight, your ultimate aim is to be recruited. Start by including an objective on your CV. It should spell out your career goals, skills and your qualifications for the role. An objective is an optional element; but it allows you to tailor your CV to the job vacancy. Make sure what you include in this section is targeted to the company and the job for which you are applying.
- Skills – include specific skills such as problem solving skills, communication skills, IT skills or language skills and in short sentences demonstrate how you utilise these skills. These skills include anything vocational that has not appeared elsewhere on your CV, for example, list any certificates you have and any on job related courses certificates. If you are applying overseas then you should indicate languages accompanied by your level of proficiency. If it is relevant to the job you are applying for, then you may want to mention any conferences, workshops or seminars you have attended. Give the name of the conferences, dates, places and organisers.
- Work experience – most recent experience first, continuing in reverse chronological order. If you expect to see the result your CV gym workout will give, whether you are working on your calves or on your CV, you’ve got to pick up the pace. Since the work experience section is the most important element of your CV, it is the best section to work hard on. Most employers prefer that you list your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with their most recent jobs. Be sure to include the position, company, location and dates of employment.
Remember that one size does not fit all on your CV that is why you should have one main ‘core CV’ in place. If you are applying for a variety of roles, what you highlight should relate specifically to each unique job vacancy. So, always tweak your CV to go with the role that you are applying for. If you have been out of the workforce for some time or are looking to make a career change, consider grouping your work history under functional categories instead of chronologically. Describe your work experience in short strong sentences using straightforward and positive language. Describe the jobs, highlight your skills by mentioning the general abilities you were required to demonstrate.
- Achievements – this is where you draw them in, be sure to focus on any innovation, the amount of money you saved your company, result of any project or initiative you led, the process you improved and any other outcomes. Use action words to describe your accomplishments and specifically demonstrate how you made a positive impact on the company. For example, it’s not enough to say, “Solve customers’ problems on time”. A statement such as, “Reduced customers waiting time by quickly solving their problems which in turn led to company’s revenues of more than 20% in less than six months, exceeding established goal of 10%,” will impress employers more. Remember, do not lie because you have to be able to justify anything you write.
- Education – start with your most recent education – your degree or postgraduate qualification. University qualifications will be of more interest to an employer than what you did at high school so devote more space to this. Include the dates, name of university/s, degree title e.g. BA (Hons) Media, and the grade you are expecting or have achieved. It is advisable that you include any modules you studied that are relevant to the job application in addition to your dissertation research or project work. Time spent abroad or work internship as part of your degree course should be mentioned.
- Hobbies/Interests – including details of your interests away from the workplace. By adding details of specific hobbies, you are giving an employer a more rounded picture of your personal qualities.
- References - if you don’t have space on your CV, a simple “References are available on request” is acceptable. If you do have space, it is very common to give the details of two referees. It is usual to provide the names and contact details of two referees, one of which should be your most recent employer. Graduates and school leavers with limited work experience can nominate University lecturers, teachers, or managers during work experience. Always ask for their permission first and remember to keep them informed of your career aspirations and achievements to date. You must tell your referees of any job applied for in advance. Give their names, position, address, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
- No extraneous activities - even the strongest athletes run out of steam when they overexert themselves. Avoid exhausting the CV reader, by weeding out information that does not directly relate to the job at hand. Run a spelling and a grammar check on your CV. Read the draft of your CV out loud to see how it flows.
- Presentation - ensure your CV is well presented. Presentation is as important as including all the relevant information. Most employers see hundreds of CVs and yours may get less than a minute of their time. Ensure that your formatting is on point so that the document is easy to read and appealing to the eye. Use boldface type for section headings, employer names and jobs titles, and leave ample white space so it doesn’t look cluttered. If you submit your application via e-mail, prepare the file as a plain-word text document so it can be read on any computer system. Employers and recruiters will skim every CV that they receive; looking for keywords and information, so make sure that there are no formatting issues that could lead to your CV being discarded from the very start. Instead, make sure that your CV looks neat and can be read clearly and crisply so that it will go straight to the interview pile.
- Chill, stand back and let it marinade – CV workout can be challenging, but it shouldn’t make you break out in a lot of sweat. Approach the task like you would a workout. Break it down into small steps, take your time and give each one your all. With a little effort and willpower, you are bound to strengthen your chances of landing the job you seek. So, if by now your CV is feeling the burn of lactic acid build-up while you exercise it but you don’t want it to wake up in pain tomorrow, it is important to conclude your CV exercise routine with some final stretches. After you have worked it out, you should give it one last look for grammar and punctuation errors, misspelled words and typos. Leave it and go back to it after a day so that you can use fresh pair of eyes to read it again. Then do the final updates.
- Show its leanness and meanness off, request a quick once-over - if you’ve worked hard to develop well-defined abs, you shouldn’t be afraid to show them off. Similarly, before submitting your CV, show it to a few friends, your mentor or professionals in the field and ask if they think it successfully highlights your background and skills. Ask others if your career objective is clear and your skill set matches this objective. Others pair of fresh eyes also can spot any errors that you’ve overlooked. When you receive all the comments back, use the feedback to update your CV accordingly.
- Web 2.0 and your CV - in this day and age, spiffing up your CV will get you noticed and you will stand out from the crowd. Paper CV/résumé may soon go the way of the Typewriters, Video Cassettes, and Betamax. If you are looking for a job, you have recently graduated, you want to create an awesome CV, or just share your skills and experience with the world or send to employers, now you can create an online CV and even have a CV website with Innovate CV. Try and have an online CV. Frankly, even if a job doesn’t require too much tech know-how, a CV like any of the ones on Innovate CV will do a much better job than a paper CV in revealing your ability to communicate effectively, an essential skill for the job market. Explore other relevant resources on the web. Be on LinkedIn or Twitter, have a presence on the web and be sure to not be perceived as someone who is not serious. Potential employers will Google you so Google yourself first to see what they will see.
- Target your CV to the specific job advert – Read over the terminology used and the skills mentioned in the advert and where appropriate, use other words that means the words in the advert in your CV.
- Back up your claims – Avoid writing just words; if you have “good communication skills” then, demonstrate how you have used them effectively to get something done.
- Identify the contribution you made – Focus should be on yourself and your achievements. Rather than just stating a list of duties you had, think about ways you have demonstrated success in a particular role. Mention your achievements at work and any concrete results you achieved in measurable terms if possible. For example, rather than write, “designed company’s blog,” you could say, “designed company’s blog, which increased staff’s overall engagement and facilitated staff collaborations and seamless customer problems solving which in turn generated more sale by 30 percent.”
Other Interesting CV/Résumé Articles:
15 Résumé Tips That Land Interviews
Get the Job You Deserve This Year! See These 13 Steps to a Winning CV
Free CV Templates from Monster
The CV Black Hole – What Happens When You Hit Send?
Get Your CV Noticed and Read – Recruiters spend 25 seconds reviewing a CV!
10 Dos and 10 Don’ts of Writing an Effective CV
Want a Job? Stand Out – Create a Web CV
Free Résumé Samples and Job CV Templates
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