Is there such a thing as the perfect CV Or, are we just kidding ourselves it exists. So much angst is suffered by job applicants when putting a CV together. Advice on structure, what to do about gaps in employment, how to construct a personalised statement etc. Is it any wonder people get confused to the point of cracking up?
Isn’t what you really need is to just is to just understand the basics and formulate your CV around the employer and what they’re after? This blog piece will show you,
- some of the factors that influence how your CV is perceived
- the basics to consider in the creation of any CV
How is your CV perceived – Influencing Factors
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – what one person finds acceptable in a CV another (even in the same company) may not. It’s a pain, but true. Often more than one person will be reading the CVs and making judgments as to who to put forward. Preference around style and structure will vary from colleague to colleague, so to be safe, keep to the basics.
Style changes over time – CVs are like fast fashion. What’s the ‘new black’ this year? Again, it’s a pain but true. Fancy fonts, the use of headshots etc have all come and gone. Unfortunately, peoples’ views on them don’t conveniently change at the same time, potentially catching out the unwary applicant.
Depends on the role/business/industry – For example, technical-based roles will require a different style of CV for specific elements, e.g. using specialist industry language. It may be worth checking for examples of specific types of CVs acceptable for a specific industry or profession just to make sure you’re on the same page as the reader.
The important thing to remember is what a CV is trying to achieve. What purpose underpins its creation regardless of whatever structure you intend to use, and whatever job you are applying for.
Below are our Top 5 CV essentials, the basics that are fundamental in the creation of a CV – any CV!
What are employers looking for in a CV
Regardless of how you’ve structured your CV, you must understand where the employer is coming from. Make their life much easier by giving them what they want.
But it’s not just about personalisation of the CV (see below). It’s about understanding exactly what the vacancy is and the wider implications of how it (and hopefully you) fits in with the organisation. Re-read the vacancy information, research the company website, and if it’s a large company, check the web for the latest business news. If still in doubt, why don’t you ring them/ Most vacancies offer interested candidates the option of contacting the person in charge of the recruitment process. Understand exactly what the vacancy is about and give them something that will catch their eye.
Personalise and tailor you CV to the role
So, what does the employer want? They want to see a CV that jumps out at them and meets the vacancy criteria. After all, you’ve only got a few seconds to make an impression!
In other words, your CV needs to be personalised to the role. It’s essential. Generic CVs have had their day. The scattergun approach (non-personalised CVs) simply means your CV ends up in the bin. But you can only personalise CV so much before you run out of space. So why not use a covering letter to add information if you can’t fit it all in on the CV?
Good, because there is still a 17% chance of your covering letter being read!
Spelling, Grammar and the Importance of ‘I’
The importance of grammar and spelling cannot be underestimated. I’m not going to spend a considerable amount of time going through why getting this right is so important as I’m sure you can work this out for yourself. With spell check (make sure it’s the UK and not USA English please) facilities available as part of all word processors, is there any excuse?
A common question is should a CV be written in the first (I) or third person (He, She)? How about getting rid of pronouns completely. Instead, try using action-based verbs. So, for example, rather than saying “I achieved the top position for sales” how about just stating “Achieved the top position for sales”. But if you must use a pronoun, then the first person is the most appropriate (I achieved this, I am proficient in…)”.
Fonts, Font Size and Length
Length is easy as most agree a CV should not go beyond more than two sides of A4. Concerning font and size, the advice is use either Time New Roman or Ariel/Lucida Sans. What’s the difference? As you can see the Times font has what is called a serif’ tail,’ i.e. the way a letter has a different thickness as part of its shape which gives it an uneven look (Serifs) and are often used for newspapers. Ariel and Lucida Sans style fonts are called Sans Serifs (without Serif) because their look is a lot cleaner and uniform across all the letter. You’ll find these types of fonts are popular on the net, just like this piece.
Which one you choose is up to you, but a font size of 12 with 14 for headings is good. Whatever you choose, just be consistent across the CV.
Tell Your Story and the Importance of Key Words
What’s your story? Does it fit with what the organisation is looking for? Don’t forget this is your only opportunity to get across why you are the only person capable of taking on the role, and, why they should at least interview you.
A good website builds its ranking in google by appropriate use of key words, words that relate to the contents on the page and that resonate with the reader. You must do the same with your CV. Choose your keywords carefully. Use words that match the industry and/or type of role you’re applying for, but don’t overdo them or as with google rankings, you’ll go to the bottom of the pile.
Words such as organised, initiative, creative ambitious, people-focused etc are all excellent examples. But you need to be careful they are in context of the vacancy. Saying you’re ‘customer-focused when applying for a role where you’ll rarely if ever encounter clients is a waste of space on your CV.
And in Conclusion
So, there you go, the Top 5 CV basics. Hope it helps, but don’t forget you can get help with your CV and general job search support with the Career Fancy package. See more details how here.