5 Top Tips for Getting Your CV Perfect
Thinking of looking for a new job but are being held back by the thoughts of creating or updating your CV? Don’t worry, you’re not alone; many people cannot stand the thought of having to tackle their CV and perceive it to be a daunting task.
However, when it comes to job hunting, crafting the perfect CV is the essential first step. Get it right, and you’re likely to have an interview in no time. But get it wrong, and you may face relentless rejection. So how exactly do you create the perfect CV? How long should it be and how do you appropriately demonstrate your strengths and skills without sounding arrogant? How can you ensure that you at least make it to the interview stage when competing against many other candidates? With more than 21 years experience in recruitment and having received and reviewed tens of thousands of CVs, we have some constructive tips to creating a tailored CV that will ensure you make a good first impression and stand out from the crowd.
The “Perfect CV” Layout
Ultimately your CV is your calling card and your most important sales tool. It should go without saying that it needs to include basic information such as your contact details, employment history and education, but how long should it be and what tricks can you use to give it the edge?
The perfect CV should feature the following content, in this order:
- Personal information: name, address and contact details
- Why you are right for this job or have the relevant skills and experience: this is your chance to really convince an employer that you are the perfect candidate for the role. But keep it short; two to three lines should suffice
- Career history: starting with your most recent job and working backwards
- List any other skills you have: only if you feel they add to your CV. Perhaps you are a great writer, fantastic with figures or a whizz at IT; if they complement the application make sure they are included
- Education: unless this is your first job, an employer does not need to know your Junior Cert results. Instead from an educational perspective, it will really depend on your life circumstances and how advanced you on your career. Realistically speaking if you are very advanced in your career or have had a job outside of college Junior Cert and Leaving Cert results really aren’t required. Instead a brief description of your college course should be the focus.
- Hobbies and interests: don’t underestimate the importance of including your interests. If you don’t have a specific hobby list the things you like to do such as reading, cinema and travel
- References: Matrix suggests that there is no need to list your referees, as this only makes a CV longer. A prospective employer will assume that you will provide references if required
- Proofread: it is difficult to proofread your own work so ask a couple of friends to read over your CV to pick up any typos or errors. One mistake is often all it takes for your CV to be disregarded and for you to lose that dream job.
If you really want that job, take the time to tailor your CV to meet the job description so that the employer can immediately see a natural link between the job and you, the candidate.
If it’s a job that entails being on the road for example, be sure to highlight that you have a clean driving licence and a car. If you’re looking for a role in hospitality, tell the employer about the time you worked in a bar or were front of house in a hotel. HR candidates can stand out by showcasing their people and problem-solving skills.
Breda Dooley, our Athlone Recruitment Manager, recommends a perfect CV should have two-pages but there are occasions when it may need to stretch to three pages. “An employer can receive dozens of CVs for a role and they will sift through them quickly to see who stands out and who, at first glance, is best qualified for the job,” says Breda.“So, help them, and yourself by keeping it short and concise, but rich in terms of the content. There are of course exceptions and a lot of very senior roles will demand more detail, particularly in relation to career history. If in doubt chat to a recruitment expert who can offer impartial, sound advice.”
Cover yourself in glory
A strong cover letter can make a very good first impression. Your CV has limitations, so this is the perfect opportunity to inject some personality into your application and tell an employer a little more about yourself. “Don’t go overboard,” advised Breda Dooley of Matrix Recruitment, “and keep the cover note concise and short, anything too long is unlikely to be read.
“In terms of the content, the cover note should show enthusiasm and passion and conclude on an action such as ‘thank you for taking the time to review my CV and I do hope we get to discuss the job in the near future’,” advises the recruitment expert. Breda advises against sending a CV without a cover note; “You need to give an employer a reason to open your CV and a cover note allows you to personalise your application,” she says.
Mind the gap
If you have been out of work for some time and there are gaps on your CV, don’t fret. You can fill in the blanks by highlighting the skills that you acquired during that time. If you were travelling, for example, you may have fine-tuned your organisational skills and picked up a new language. If you were on paternity leave think about your heightened ability to multi-task or problem solve. “Don’t leave too many unanswered questions on your CV,” advises Breda who is an expert in finding the perfect candidates for jobs across multiple sectors. These tips should result in the perfect CV to make you stand out from the crowd.