By Catherine Adenle
Do you want an effective CV? If so, you need to know that a CV emphasises and showcases information about your experience, abilities and studies. Both are relevant for the objectives that must be fulfilled in a certain position for which you are applying, or in which selection process you are taking part in.
It is a compilation of all your academic data and experience throughout your working and studying life (as vitae in Latin term means life). The structure usually contains personal data, academic, experience, languages, computer skills and other data, all in chronological order.
Now to the questions:
Q – What can I do if my experience is not relevant for the position I am applying for?
A – Think about your skills, ability, attributes and capacities that you can transfer and are applicable to the new job. Remember the skills that you have acquired and achieved in your previous work or other activities or experiences in your life: to work under pressure, in a team, prioritise, plan, using languages in your work or when you travel, communication skills, knowing how to carry out or compile reports, to convince people (in social situations, your friends, to negotiate for better things…)
Q – How do I explain the periods that I was out of work or inactivity?
A – All along, have you been sitting on the sofa, sipping some tea or have you done several noteworthy things? Think! It is possible that you dedicated yourself to update your knowledge or to study a new course, language, or you have decided to coach children’s football team or have children and dedicate your time to them, which demonstrates your capacity for self development, organisation, forecasting, taking into account details and “to work under pressure, without time to rest and in a very noisy atmosphere. ” Reflect and explain in your CV the abilities learned and how good you are at solving problems.
Q – Does a CV always need to be only one page?
A – CV length should not exceed two sides of A4 paper. How much of those two sides you fill depends on how much you have done. Undergraduates and school leavers may be hard pushed to fill two sides of A4 simply because they may not have very much experience; if this is the case one side of A4 should suffice. Conversely candidates who have established a career history will have to be selective as to what they include so that it all fits on, in this case make sensible use of margin and paragraph sizes. However, be sure not to fill a CV with irrelevant information and remember to put your best or relevant achievements on the first page.
Q – Should the education section always be near the top?
A – If you want an effective CV, then know that your education details are important on your CV. If you are still studying or have recently completed formal education your academic achievements will form a major part of your qualifications, and it is recommended to place these near the top of your CV. Also some industries, notably communications, value related experience above degree work and therefore, place your academic qualifications further down the page.
Q – Is an objective always necessary?
A – No, it is not crucial; however an employer will be impressed if you have a much focused idea of where you want your career to be heading, especially if it is in line with their planned development.
Q – What if I haven’t done very much to fill up my CV?
A: This does not matter; everyone has to start somewhere, if meagre content is a problem use sensible formatting and fonts so that you comfortably fill one side of A4.
Q – Do hobbies and personal interests need to be shown?
A – It is not imperative to show your interests however it can provide an employer with an insight into your personality. This will undoubtedly be covered at interview so the more you can prepare them the better.
Q – Must references be included?
A – It is not necessary to include this, a small note stating that ‘References available on request’ will be sufficient. However, if you think reporting to a highly placed person in your last place of work will be an added advantage, and then it is okay to include one reference. If you haven’t included references, be sure to take a list of two references with their contact information with you to the interview.
Q – What should be on my CV?
A – Your contact details, an introduction of your skills, previous employment history, achievements, academic qualifications, hobbies and interests.
Q – What shouldn’t I put on my CV?
A – Religion, sexuality, date of birth, why you left your previous jobs, all your school grades, a photo, lies, fluffy boarder designs, drawings, dodgy e-mail addresses etc.
Q – Do I have to include all of my exam results?
A – No, just the most recent and a summary of your A-Level, should be enough.
Q – In what order do I list information?
A – Contact details at the top, a brief introduction/objective – not compulsory, employment history, achievements, education, interests, and reference line (‘References available on request).
Q – What sort of paper should I print it on?
A – The best quality that you can get your hands on, but be reasonable, do not get paper that is too thick or coloured.
Q – In what text format should I save my CV so that it can be e-mailed?
A – If you want to be sure that the recipient can read your submission then sending a .txt attachment is recommended. However this format does not allow you to include attractive formatting. Most offices have MS Office applications, and so a Word document will probably be the best. PDF files take up more memory, but if you are applying for design industry jobs and have a highly stylised CV then this could be the best format. If you want to be certain you could paste a txt version of your CV into the body of the e-mail as well as attaching a Word or PDF version.
Q – How can I ensure that my CV will be read?
A – CVs usually aren’t read at first, they are scanned. With that in mind you should build your CV to be easily scanned by sight:
Present and important information in concise, compact statements – Avoid large blocks of text.
Organize your information so that the reader doesn’t have to hunt for your skills with a set of binoculars.
Use fonts and text styles consistently to provide visual structure to your document.
Leave plenty of white space so it isn’t cluttered.
Sprinkle industry keywords and use clean, positive language.
Leave irrelevant, unnecessary or inappropriate information off your CV.
Q – Do I need more than one CV?
A – Construct a ‘core CV’ using all CV information on this blog by clicking on the CV tab above and then configure that core CV to the recipient each time you send it out. Never use one CV for all, always tweak to be client focused.
Q – How far back should I go with the information I put on my CV?
A -Ten years/fifteen years at most is a maximum. Go back further and you run the risk of rambling on with irrelevant information or, worse, dating yourself. However, there are certain situations in which experience from more than ten years ago may be advantageous to show on your CV. In this case, it is usually a good idea to taper the descriptions of your experience as you work back, making entries less detailed. Another option may be to find another way to show experience or qualification from more than ten years ago.
Q – I have a lot of work experience, but… I have never made a CV
A – After a long time working, looking for employment can be very difficult. It is possible that you only filled out a form 15-20 ago years and since then you have worked in the same company or you have always been contacted and offered new jobs. At this moment you must raise the most important things, the achievements attained, and plan all the information that you consider interesting for the position you choose.
Q – I have spent a while travelling. How I can reflect this in an interesting way in my resume?
A – Write about the situations that you have had to solve and the experiences that have had the biggest impact on you and conclude with what you have learned, always in relation to the position or functions that you are aiming for.
Q – When is the best time to write my CV?
A – Now, try and have a core CV in place, to be updated and tweaked so that it is client focused when you apply for a job.
Want to know how to make a good impression on your CV?
Then, read some of these articles:
View Free Sample CVs
Free Job Based CV Templates
10 CV Clangers
Countdown: 20 Reasons Why Your CV Will Annoy Potential Recruiters
12 Tips for Writing a Winning CV
Free Classic Combination CV
3 Types of CVs, their Advantages and Disadvantages
Free Job Based CV Templates
Templates for Skills Based CV
CV: The Basics
More CV Keywords to Get You Noticed
5 Power Words to make Your CV Get Noticed
Top 3 CV Formats: Which one is right for you?
Honesty is the best policy on CVs
How to write a resume