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CV top tips

New Year is often the time when we decide to make some changes: lose weight, quit smoking, or start looking for a new job. Well we may not be able to give you weight loss advice, but we can offer some top tips on how to jazz up that CV and make yourself stand out to potential employers.

Top tip: Think of your CV as a commercial/career brochure for yourself

If your CV isn’t up to scratch you are missing a valuable opportunity to make a persuasive and positive first impression. It should be a marketing/selling document showing off your background, ability and future potential and, if crafted properly, it will make an employer want to learn more and get you to the all-important next stage of the selection procedure, the interview.

Top tip: Consider using professional help

Given the importance of the above you may decide that paying for the services of a top notch CV writer and adviser is a worthwhile investment in both your career and future, even if you only do it as a one-off to get you on the first rung of the career ladder. If not, read on.

Top tip: Follow the set rules

While there is no one-size-fits-all or silver bullet formula to writing a perfect CV there are basic guidelines with which all CVs should comply. It must be factual, accurate, well written and structured and presented in such a way that key facts can be read quickly and easily. If submitting your application by post, make sure it printed on good quality plain white laser paper in black, using a plain, legible typeface such as Times New Roman or Georgia. Some companies scan hard copies of CVs and covering letters directly into searchable databases so it’s important to have clean typefaces and good printing clarity to prevent anything being misread. Confine your experience and achievements to two A4 sides at the most. Once completed make sure you carefully proofread it for spelling and grammatical errors.

Top tip: Word your CV for maximum impact

In today’s ultra-competitive job market you can’t afford to simply present a brief outline of your background and accomplishments to date and hope for the best. The vocabulary used must convey how your abilities match the needs of the specific role and company and convince the potential employer that you offer something above and beyond the norm. Detail your accomplishments, key attributes and skills, and if you are presently working, the responsibilities of that job with tangible numbers relating to how you delivered value and results wherever possible. Be sure to avoid using clichéd phrases that can't be substantiated, such as "energetic team player with a drive for success". 

Top tip: Pay close attention to format and style

A well set out document which reads consistently and flows naturally will say a great deal about your ability to organise and prioritise information effectively. The first page should include your name and complete contact details at the top so a potential employer has no trouble in reaching you. Follow this with a personal statement, which should be a finely tuned 50-100 word introductory paragraph that grabs the reader’s attention telling them about yourself and spelling out your suitability for the role. Your CV is then likely to follow one of two accepted formats either: a chronological one detailing employment history starting with current or most recent role and working backwards; or a functional or experience-based CV which concentrates on your achievements and transferable skills -- useful where you might only have a succession of short-term work experience placements.

In most instances this information will come before academic or professional qualifications. Make full use of headings to help guide the reader between different sections and bullet points to draw attention to key details.

Top tip:  Keep your CV updated

It’s a wise career strategy to keep your CV current to avoid any last-minute scramble if an alternative opportunity presents itself. Think of it as a work-in-progress record of your personal performance and try to revise it following the completion of each major achievement, project you’ve worked on or qualification attained. This will also help to ensure it is accurate. Many individuals also make the mistake of drafting one generalist CV and then adapting this single document throughout their careers. Accept that different CVs with different formats, sentences and key words will be necessary to fit the requirements of different jobs or particular stages of your career. By composing and having multiple CV templates on file will also save you bags of time when it comes to producing a CV tailored to your target job.

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