First Impressions (Can Be The) Last
Your CV is the first impression of you a prospective employer gets. With so many organisations using automated CV search technology, a poorly constructed CV means you might not even get it in front of the hiring manager. Your CV should be concise, clearly structured, free of unnecessary over-style and results-based, in that a great CV clearly describes your experience and the value you have brought to previous employers.
Most organisations use some form of optical recognition to read CVs. These scan your CV for keywords or phrases and, generally based on the context in which they appear, identify you against a job specification. Think long and hard about how you describe your experience, avoid overuse of company-specific terms or acronyms, as they may not be recognised. Structure your CV with your most recent experience first. Decrease the detail as you work through previous jobs, it is unlikely that you will be applying for a similar job today, to the one you held ten years ago.
Write a short leading paragraph at the beginning of your CV. A well-worded summary creates initial high impact. Avoid excessive use of flowery language, which will only reduce the interest of the reader and the CVs credibility. Write the paragraph in the first person, not the third. Focus on your key skills and competencies only and try to avoid using too generic terminology. This should be personal and not the same as the CV of the last applicant.
Understand The Need
This heading arises in all stages of the recruitment process. CVs should be tailored to the position for which you are applying. Using generic CVs often results in irrelevant or erroneous information being presented which weakens the application. Outline your skills, responsibilities and achievements most relevant to the position and hiring organisation, keeping information concise and to the point.
The Whole Truth
Never lie or fudge on a CV. Nothing is more likely to get you thrown out of a recruitment process than an untruth. You might never even know that was the reason. It is okay to have gaps on a CV so long as you explain them. Don’t embellish your responsibility, it will be found out within minutes in the interview and only undermine other elements of your application. CVs should be two to three pages at most, one page is rarely enough.
It may seem obvious, but don’t rely on spell checks, they are often unreliable and spelling errors on CVs do not reflect well. Make sure your employment dates are correct and where you have held different positions within an organisation, note them as separate roles. A pattern of internal promotion is extremely positive to see.
Finally, when sending your CV on a speculative basis to an organisation, call to find out who is the head of the function you are interested in and address it to them personally.