Your Curriculum Vitae
At TIMES Resources, we work with many different companies and hiring managers. Each has their own view as to how they like to see CVs and we may make format changes or discuss re-writing your CV with you. That said, below is our standard advice on what to include in your CV.
While there is no universally accepted format, the most important attribute of a successful CV is that it clearly explains to the reader what it is that you can do for them.
Elements you need to consider when putting together a CV are:
- A well-presented, selling document
- A source of interesting, relevant information
- A script for talking about yourself
Is a generic CV a good idea?
The purpose of a CV is not to get you the job. Its primary purpose is to get you an interview, and - after your meeting - to remind the person with whom you met about what skills and experience you can bring to their organisation.
The decision to recruit is like a buying decision on the part of an employer. This creates a very clear picture of what a CV must include:
- It must meet the needs of the target organisation where possible. This means a single generic CV is not always likely to be sufficient.
- It must highlight your achievements and how they relate to the job you are applying for.
- It must give the reader a clear indication of why you should be considered for this role.
- When you submit a CV to a recruiter or a potential employer, it is likely to be the first thing they get to see or read of yours. Therefore, you need to present your CV well and make it user-friendly. For example,
- Lay your CV out neatly.
- Don't make the margins too deep or too narrow.
- Resist writing lengthy paragraphs - be concise.
- Use a professional, clear typeface such as Arial or Calibri. Avoid overly ornate styles, and more 'casual' ones like Comic Sans.
- Do not use a type size less than 11pt.
- If printing off your CV, use a good quality paper. In most cases, be conservative and print your CV in black ink on white paper. Covering letters should use identical stationery.
- Check for spelling or typographical errors - whoever actually types your CV, errors are YOUR responsibility. Don't rely on a spell checker. If you're not sure about a word, use a dictionary. Sloppiness and lack of care could be heavily penalised.
How long should a CV be?
Dealing with the specialised arena of Information Technology we find most people’s CVs are around 4 pages for permanent roles. As it’s our job to present your CV to our clients we would rather there was too much information on a CV so we could trim it if necessary but we never make additions to your CV.
The content of a standard CV should typically include, but is not exclusive to, the following, and should be presented in the order shown below:
- Contact Details
- Key Skills/Competencies/Attributes
- Career Summary or Experience Summary
- Career Goal
- Career History
- Personal Details
The recruiter or potential employer needs to have enough information to contact you easily during this job search. Provide as many of the following as you can:
- Alternative telephone number
- Email address
Key Skills / Competencies / Attributes
In this section, you will need to summarise the things about you that are relevant to this role. You can present the information as a list of major achievements, a summary of skills, or a list of key attributes. Provide as much evidence as you can to show you are suited to the role you are pursuing.
Include those qualifications that are directly related to the job and would specifically enhance your chances of moving to the next step of the job search process. Non-tertiary qualifications should only be included in the summary page if they are particularly relevant to the role.
Career Summary or Experience Summary
This is a 4-8 line summary of your career to-date and typically does not include employer-specific information. It should be clear about where you have come from and should create an impression in the reader that your application for the position is a logical one.
You would normally include this in your CV if you intend to change your career direction significantly. This section summarises the new direction and gives the reader some insight into why you have chosen this course.
If you are changing your career dramatically, you may also wish to include relevant short courses and programmes in your Qualifications.
This section should always begin with your current or most recent job and work backwards.
You would ideally name your employer and describe the nature and size of their business (not all organisations are universally well known).
Provide your job title and then describe what you were employed to do (a function statement), focusing on the things you enjoyed and were good at doing. Don’t necessarily include ‘take it or leave it’ items as they may distract the reader’s attention away from your real strengths.
After describing your function, add a list of your principal achievements in that role. These will be bullet-pointed concise statements of fact, and quantified wherever possible.
This section is entirely discretionary, but could include items such as:
- Date of birth (not age)
- Marital status
- Full driving licence, etc.
Electronic CVs need to be transferable across different types of software and computers. Use a widely recognised format such as Word, but bear in mind that if, for example, Microsoft has recently brought out a new version which has not yet been widely adopted, those with earlier versions may not be able to open it.
You may be tempted to use different colours, fonts, pictures and tables in your CV. While this might look nice in hard copy, remember that the key is getting the information in order and using appropriate keyword nouns or phrases. Careful use of bold type can also be effective, without over-complicating.
Your CV should be packed with nouns or noun phrases that fit your goals, skill set, experience and industry sector. You can also use verbs as keywords.
Adding as many different keywords as you can to the body of the CV is crucial. If you are sending your CV to an online recruitment company, it will be usually searched by keywords. If you put it on the website of a potential employer organisation that uses CV tracking software, again, it will be searched using keywords. The only time it will not be searched by keyword is when you directly e-mail a company or organisation.
Like offline CVs there are certain key elements that are essential to maximise the impact of your online CV. These key elements are set out below:
Name and Contact Block
This section should always be at the very top of a CV. Include your name, contact address, phone, fax and e-mail. If you have created a good personal website, then include the website address.
The job or career objective section simply states what you are looking for. Use a maximum of eight words or simply list a job title. More senior people may choose to have a summary or profile only.
Summary Paragraph or Profile
This must be the second or third element of an online CV and is a keyword paragraph that highlights your skills.
This can be arranged reverse chronologically, functionally or as a mixture of both.
Keep your keywords specific for your last job and then broaden out as you go further back in your career history. Keep achievements specific, especially, in the most recent work experience.
List your latest and highest qualifications only and include any other significant training you have taken, for example, professional qualifications.
Putting Your CV in Cyberspace
When loading your CV online there are no hard and fast rules although there are three options to leverage the most from your online efforts:
- Register with online employment sites that incorporate CV builders and databases.
- Register on the websites of companies you wish to target (many large organisations invite would-be candidates to do this, and often provide a CV builder to help you)
- If responding to a job advertisement or lead you have found, E-mail your CV directly to the individual employer.
Once you have decided on a structure it is important to follow the rules below:
Use keywords that show you match the position requirements
Keep it short and sharp – it is for initial contact only
Put your most important skills at the beginning
Keep the format simple
Use plain fonts
Remember your correct e-mail and telephone number
Keep a hardcopy version to hand for any enquiries
Mailshot. Every e-mail you send will show the other people to whom you have sent it. Direct approaches to companies or organisations should be personalised one-offs
Use pictures, tables, or other unnecessarily complicated formatting just for aesthetics
Use a version of software which is brand new and therefore not yet universally recognised