CVs made simple – steps to success.

CV To make a good CV you need:

  1. A good understanding of what skills, strengths and experience the job you are applying for requires.
  2. A clear and logical format that helps you present the most relevant points clearly.
  3. Evidence of your effectiveness in performing the tasks or skills the employer is looking for.

Sorry but…

  • Writing an effective CV requires time, research and reflection.
  • It is unlikely you will get away with writing just one CV, they normally need adapting for every job you apply for.

Step 1 Do your research.

  • What jobs / roles / careers are you interested in? What skills do they require – and do you have them?
  • Which employers are you interested in that offer these opportunities? Make a list.

Step 2 Apply for one job at a time

  • If there are several jobs / companies you want to apply for start with one.
  • What does this employer want in terms of skills and attributes in an employee in that role. Make a list or get your highlighter pen out on the job description, advert or website.  I’ll admit it’s not always obvious, but read between the lines and you can usually figure out what the essential skills or behaviours are.  If in doubt use the prospects website to help you http://www.prospects.ac.uk/types_of_jobs.htm  Find the job role that most closely matches what you are looking for.  Read the typical work activities section to get context and see if it is the same or different to the job you want to apply for. Then look at the entry requirements page for this section.
entryreq - prospects

Step 3 Provide evidence

  • You have identified the skills now provide the evidence of your effectiveness. Remember: Context Action Result.
  • Don’t let your reader ask HOW?  Eg. Working on reception I gained effective communication skills.  Maybe you did, but we have no idea what you communicated, what strategies you used and whether they were effective or not.  Working in a team of six on the busy hotel reception, I organised monthly meetings to plan rotas and duties to help manage guest enquiries.  This resulted in improved satisfaction and team morale.   You can see how this actually covers several skills or competencies.

Step 4 Is the information presented clearly and in a logical order?

  • Is the font clear and easy to read – Calibri and Arial are pretty good.
  • Are you using bold, underlining and larger fonts for headings or emphasis – if you are using all of these it may look too fussy.
  • Are the dates clear and consistently displayed, can you spot any large gaps?
  • Are tabs and margins consistent throughout. Are you making effective use of space? Frames, boxes and wide margins may take up unnecessary space.
  • Is the order logical, what is most important your education or experience? Do you have relevant experience – is this obvious?

Before you send it off spell & grammar check.  Yeah yeah you say, obviously I wouldn’t send out a CV full of errors.  Well explain to me why most CVs have glaring errors in them. Poor spelling, incorrect use of words, repetition or words missing, some employers have a zero tolerance policy – don’t risk yours going in the bin!


Step 5 Look at the next job you want to apply for. 

Is the job description and person specification the same as the last one you applied for?  If not you will need to adapt your CV to reflect the employer’s requirements.

Writing a CV is simple but its not quick! One size does not fit all, making the effort to tailor your CV is not a waste of time.

Many applicants still don’t bother with these steps and employers don’t like it. It’s not even just a UK phenomenon watch this report on US TV

All Undergraduate Undergraduate-highlighted

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