How to prepare your CV
PREPARING YOUR CV
Until your interview you are only as good as your paperwork, and perhaps your telephone manner. This makes your CV and covering letter crucial. They are essential tools in most job searches. Like any marketing document, a CV should help you to sell yourself.
What should your CV include? Think about your skills, achievements, qualifications and experience. What are your unique selling points and strengths? If you are replying to a specific job advertisement review, what key words and tasks were used in the advertisement. Which of these words applies to you? Use these words in your CV.
Remember that you want your CV to be read and responded to. Tempt the recipient. Include just enough information to stimulate interest, but not so much that you bore the reader. Three pages maximum is preferred. Every word must contribute to the overall message - so keep if brief and make sure that the contents are relevant to the job you are looking for now - not your last one. Ensure your CV is well structured; this gives the impression that you think logically and makes it easier to review. A CV that is hard to read is often put aside and forgotten. When writing the CV, remember self opinion is best avoided. Aim to include someone else's opinion (e.g. from last appraisal), facts or even evidence. Pay close attention to reply instructions in advertisements (e.g spelling of the contact's name). Have someone check your spelling and grammar. Use white paper, never coloured, as it does not photocopy well.
THE FIRST PAGE
This should contain your personal details (name, address, telephone numbers, education and qualifications) and a brief general overview of your skills, experience and the nature of work sought. If you are seeking temporary or contract work, do not forget to include availability and preferred locations.
Here you should highlight your employment history. Present this in reverse chronological order (i.e. last job first). If you have worked for only one company, break it down with an entry for each position or projects dealt with. For each position held, describe the work undertaken, duties, and responsibilities. Do include achievements, not just tasks. If you can, quantify them in sales, financial or production terms. List your hobbies and interests in no more than three lines if they are relevant. Any voluntary, charity or external posts you have e.g. school governor are worth including. Avoid listing anything too controversial. It is recommended that two referees be given - including the referees' official titles, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses.
THE 'COVERING' LETTER
CVs are seldom used alone, they should always be introduced by a letter or a telephone call. The letter should earn readership for the CV. A good letter should be used to pick up points which modesty or space prevented you putting in the CV (i.e. to highlight your key strengths relevant to that job). An introduction letter can save you from having to rewrite the CV each time you want to target your application to a specific advertisement or sector. Nevertheless keep your CV up to date. Using an out of date CV looks lazy at best and may exclude you from consideration.