I won’t patronise you, I’m well aware that you know that your CV is your chance to showcase yourself to potential employers and the first step in securing an interview and getting the job. So here are just a few tips to make sure you keep yours clear, relevant and personal to you.
What to include
Recruiters need to be able to easily spot the following:
- Your contact details
- Your education and academic details
- Your work experience
- Any extra-curricular activities
Keep to the point
Focus on the skills and values the employers are looking for. It is essential to read the job description carefully so you can work out what the employer is after. So get out your highlighter (your word doc one will do) and mark out the key words and phrases. Because you are on a vocational course with a set career path in mind, this part is much easier than it is for many of our fellow graduates. After a few drafts you should end up with a good CV that matches your skills, qualifications and experience to the work requirements of a modern surveyor.
Up until now you may have thought that the 30 second rule applies only to food that’s been dropped on the floor and ‘in a minute’ the phrase you’ve applied to buckling down to your course work, exam revision and job applications … but it is also the average time an employer will spend looking at your CV – just long enough to notice any spelling or grammatical mistakes, check you have the right skill set and that you have made an effort to secure some work experience. On this basis make sure the format of your CV is clear and easy to read. It doesn’t matter whether you choose a chronological CV format or a skills focused format but you must be consistent. Remember nobody, least of all a recruiter is going to waste time trying to find your information.
As a basic rule:
- Your text should not be smaller than 11pt. Generally speaking Times New Roman 12 pt. is a safe bet but you can also try Arial, Lucida Sans or Verdana, which is often easier to read online.
- Do not exceed two sides of A4 but check the requirements if the employer asks for one page, then obviously it must be only one page.
- 76% of CV’s are ignored if they have an unprofessional email address. There are a number of places to get a free email address – I use mail.com but try and stick to their mail.com or email.com formats.
- Make it easy for recruiters to see that you meet their minimum degree requirements, A level points and maths and english GCSE minimum standard.
- You don’t need to list all your GSCEs. Nor are your responsibilities at school relevant to a graduate position.
- You may however list your university course modules as they are relevant to your future job. If you do, you should also record what mark you got in each. Highlight any that develop professional skills referred to in the job description. You can also mention any relevant awards you have received.
- Be consistent in the way you present date information for past employment. Line them up on left-hand side of the page.
- When listing your part-time, holiday or placement experiences draw attention the relevant and transferable skills such as negotiation, managing a team or sales skills. This is also the place to mention any systems you put in place, awards or praise your employers gave you. Include information about your performance and targets ideally matching them in to the competencies required. You should also avoid using general terms such as good communication skills and team player and don’t make the cardinal sin of just listing skills or tasks without matching them to each other. ‘I raised money for charity by running a half marathon’ clearly lists the task you accomplished but places no emphasis on showing off the skills that make you a good match for the company and position advertised. Whereas, ‘I raised £642 for The Alzheimer’s Society by completing a half-marathon and organising a just giving page that I publicised both by word of mouth and through a variety of social media formats’ explains the event, the skills used and the outcome.
- Bullet points are the best way of getting the relevant information across, but keep it to no more than a couple of lines per point. Give concrete examples and state how frequently you carried out a task and if relevant state the outcome. If you worked as part of a team, say how you contributed. If you proposed an idea, explain briefly what it was and how it influence the outcome.
- Unless your referees are very impressive, you can simply say ‘References available upon request’, or if you are short of space just leave this bit out altogether on the basis that is assumed that you will supply references if you are offered the job.
- If you include hobbies or interests they should be structured in the same way as your work experience. Avoid listing hobbies such as socialising with friends and highlight activities that are relevant to the job description or that have developed skills the employer wants, such as team or high level sports, volunteering and overseas expeditions; mention any fundraising, achievements or leadership roles.
- Do not include a photo with your CV unless asked, believe it or not this is a high reason for rejection. Like wise avoid adding your date of birth, age, marital status, gender and ethnicity
- Once you’re happy with your CV, print off a copy and read it through to make sure it makes sense; is relevant; meets the employers minimum requirements; and has no spelling or grammatical errors. Try to get feedback from people you trust, such as tutors, careers advisors and family (although they can sometimes be biased). Most importantly take constructive criticism on the chin because the ultimately aim is to produce a CV that will get you that all important interview.