A strong CV is essential when applying for any position, whether it’s a store associate, manager or executive. It’s the make or break that can get your foot in the door or leave you out in the cold. Your resume is your chance to catch your future employer’s attention and show case your experience, but how do you make your profile stand out from the competition? Is there a right or wrong way?
Elite receives thousands of CVs every week from a diverse range of candidates, and the quality of these CVs various tremendously. However, with careful planning and the right presentation you can ensure that it’s you that gets called back for an interview, whether you’re securing your first role or moving on to the next.
Here are our top 5 tips for producing a strong resume:
- Presentation is important.
A simple, concise and clear layout with a legible typeface is a must. Although it is recommended to limit your CV to 2-3 pages, if your experience permits do not feel that you have to condense it down. When sending via post, make sure pages are neat and you use an A4 envelope. Make sure that you check, check, and check again for any silly mistakes. Spelling and grammar mistakes are easily rectified, but not doing so could be costly. Employers make judgements quickly so it’s crucial to get your point across directly and presented effectively.
- Make sure your structure is clear.
- Your name
- Contact information/Address
- Personal profile: A short paragraph to talk about yourself, why your skills apply to the role you are applying for and to highlight relevant successes and achievements. It is always good to mention why you are looking for a job move and what is motivating you to apply to a specific position. Try to use recent examples of relevant achievements to how you have made a difference recently.
- Career history with dates – bullet points rather than paragraphs, highlighting key responsibilities and achievements.
- Chronological order: It is best to write your CV with your most recent role at the top, working down to the first position you held. Though there is no right or wrong way to write your CV. You can club very junior roles together with minimal detail if you are a very experienced candidate.
- Courses/hobbies/special interests/achievements
- References: Attached/Available on Request
- Make it tailored.
Often, candidates will send out the same version of their CV to every job they think is suitable for them. However, where possible it is recommended to tailor your CV for each specific role you apply for. Different companies operate in different ways, and the requirements for roles can change from one to the next.
It is important to highlight how your previous positions, interests and experiences align to that of the company you are applying for. One way to make this task easier is to read through the job description and specifications and match the requirements with skills you have.
Start by creating a CV template, and update accordingly. A blanket CV that does not cater to the company’s needs can indicate to employers that you are not invested in the new position.
- Highlight you!
For many of us, ‘selling yourself’ can come a little unnaturally. But it is important to highlight your skills – it’s very likely you will have skills that are transferable, even within slightly different roles. Skills are grown both in and out of work and one may be the difference between you getting the job and the next candidate.
Additional languages, voluntary work, team management responsibility, profit & loss accountability, computer skills, courses and programmes… take some time to define where your different skills sets lie, or even ask a friend or colleague to help.
Another aspect of promoting yourself to employers is the inclusion of interests and hobbies. Examples of achievements that show your strength of character such as charity fundraising and running marathons, etc.. Include anything that shows how diverse your interests are and how multi-skilled and adaptable you are. But above all, ensure you are relating them back to the requirements of the role. Your CV is a promotional tool, keep it positive and make them want you.
As advised earlier, it is perfectly valid to simply state that your references are available upon request. However, you may wish to provide references with your CV if you are immediately available, or if they are recent references that will enhance your application. It is important that this is from someone senior, that you have reported into who can vouch for your skills and experience. For graduates this can be from a tutor or work experience employer. It is important to keep references up to date – don’t be afraid to ask your managers, they are usually more than happy to help.