Your CV is your first chance to get noticed and make the right impression on your prospective employer, so it is well worth spending time ensuring it is as impactful as possible.
Here at Pitman Training, many of our course advisors are also skilled in CV preparation. So we did a quick survey asking them for their top ten tips for a tiptop CV...
1) Design – The simpler and cleaner the better, as it's easier to read. Unless it's relevant to the job (for example graphic design) avoid using fancy fonts, lots of colours and graphics; white backgrounds are best.
2) Brevity - chapter and verse is not required - try to stick to two pages and remember to include footnotes with your name, reference (if applicable) and a page number.
3) Facts - never embellish the truth. Always stick to the facts and ensure your language is as concise as possible - edit out any unnecessary phrases or words. Ensure content and dates are accurate and, if you've got any gaps, explain them succinctly.
4) Impact - summarise your unique skills, strengths and abilities in an introductory sentence of about three lines. If possible, tailor this to the job / company you're applying to by studying their requirements and picking the most appropriate attributes. Keep it sensible and grounded - don't over egg your achievements or exaggerate, as it will sound unconvincing at best and arrogant at worst.
5) Action - use proactive language - lots of action words such as 'achieved', 'planned', 'implemented', 'saved', 'established', 'started'.
6) Achievements - when describing your skills, remember to focus on specific achievements and their benefits. For example, 'Improved response time to incoming customer emails by 23%, increasing efficiency of orders and customer satisfaction'. Or 'Reorganised the filing system on the server saving the team two hours per day.' 'Planned and organised annual conference resulting in 31% increase in number of delegates and 56% increase in attendee satisfaction'.
7) Information order - open with your name and contact details, your opening statement and then your current role, working backwards to your education, training, qualifications, interests and finally references.
8) Skills and interests - skills useful to business are important (for example driving licence, software knowledge). But if it's not useful or recent don't list it - whatever goes on there, be prepared to answer questions about it
9) Accuracy and typos - nothing irritates a potential employer more than spelling and grammatical mistakes. They look sloppy and daft. But they can often slip by, so ask friends and family to proofread for you.
10) Covering letter - an art in itself! Keep it short and make it absolutely relevant to what they are looking for and why you are ideal for the job.
Finally, for further advice, call your local Pitman Training centre as they may well offer a FREE CV workshop or advice service. You can find your local centre by clicking on this link.