Sell yourself with your CV
1. Do your research
Writing your CV can be daunting if you don't know what prospective employers are looking for, and especially if you have not been on the lookout for some time. A good idea is to read through job pages and scan the Internet for the kinds of skills organisations are looking for in your specific role. If you have been in the same position for a long time and are thinking about a change, you might be surprised by what they are expecting.
2. Tailor your CV
When you have found a job you want to apply for, it is important to tailor your CV to fit the role. You should always be honest about your experience, but you will appeal to employers more if you use their terminology and can demonstrate the relevance of your skills. For example, local governments do not always look for people from a public sector background. If you have some private sector experience, it might be worth highlighting this in your CV. Similarly, they could want someone with very specific experience. If your background is more varied than this, you should 'streamline' your CV accordingly by explaining how you gained the required skills in other roles.
3. Include the basics
All the information on your CV must be relevant, and always include the basics such as name, location, date of birth, contact details, availability or notice period, whether you have a clean driving licence, and your nationality or working visa details. In some circumstances it is also worth including why you are looking to move from your current employer, why you are looking for a new role, and what type of company role you are looking for why.
4. Structure your CV
A good solid educational background, relevant qualifications or chartered memberships are desirable to new employers. Then provide details of the previous companies you have worked for and a brief synopsis of the duties carried out for them. On your most recent role/s, elaborate upon this by describing the types of projects carried out. If you are a graduate, you may not have a great deal of work experience, although many graduates undertake day release or a year out in the industry. In this case, highlight the relevant skills that you gained in your course or on work experience. List each position in reverse order, so that the most recent appears first.
5. Cover core skills
Next you need to make a brief list of core skills that would be relevant to a potential new employer, such as computer literacy and the software packages you have worked on. Language is very important in this section. Using the same adjectives as those used in the advertisement is a good start, as is the ordering. If they require someone with ‘effective leadership and administrative abilities who must possess excellent interpersonal skills', these should be addressed under your skills section in the same order, although not in verbatim!
At the end, provide a brief flavour of your interests and hobbies. In all, your CV should be no longer than two pages and should be made up of key, concise bullet points. Don't leave any gaps - if you took a year out, carried out an interim assignment or travelled for six months, say so, otherwise potential employers could suspect the worst. It's not necessary to include references in an application, but let them know you can provide them upon request.
Greg Lettington is director of Hays Construction & Property.
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