Your CV is the first glimpse a hiring manager will get of you. If you haven’t taken the time to include all relevant information in a cohesive order, you may not get past the initial screening phase and may find your CV in the no pile.
So what do employers and recruiters look for on a CV? The key elements are listed below, along with what to include on your CV:
1. Personal statement
Lots of job searchers make the mistake of listing a load of ‘buzzwords’ in their personal statement, which can actually de-personalise the statement (pretty much defeating the object). Try and keep the ‘team player’, ‘results-driven’ and ‘ambitious’ types to a minimum and give the hiring manager some real insight into what you’re like as a worker.
Skills and experience needs to be backed up by real life examples when you describe your previous roles. Simply saying you have excellent communication skills doesn’t actually prove this. The hiring manager wants to see how you’ve applied a skill to a situation and produced positive results; the skills you highlight should be the ones that position you as a good fit for the role.
3. Employment history
If you’ve had a varied career but are applying for a niche role, only include your most relevant experience, to give you more space for details about your role and responsibilities. List your work experience with the most recent at the top so the hiring manager doesn’t have to look far.
4. Education and qualifications
Include all relevant qualifications, but space is tight on a CV; this isn’t the place to list all your swimming certificates (unless you’re applying for a swimming job...)
References can be available upon request so there’s no need to take up space with them here.
So, now you know what to include on your CV, take the time to review the way it’s written and the way it looks. Consider the following points:
- Honesty is the best policy
Don’t lie on your CV, if you’re not found out at interview, you will be when you start your employment. If you have gaps on your CV you can explain them in your cover letter or during the interview, so don’t think you need to hide them.
- Be clear and concise
Don’t think that speaking ‘corporatese’ will make your previous job titles sound more impressive – it can have a negative effect if the hiring manager doesn’t know how to translate your corporate jargon into terms they understand.
Keep the format of your CV clear so it’s easy to scan each section and proofread as many times as you can, or better yet – get other people to check for grammar and spelling mistakes.