Writing an effective CV is no piece of cake.
A lot of questions arise when you think about how a CV should be written. Understanding what should and shouldn’t you be writing is no easy task, and some guidelines may be useful while pursuing the job of your dreams.
There are some major details that make the difference when HR people chose which CV to keep and which to put aside.
Here are all the tips in order not to end up in the unchosen pile:
Layout & Format
DO The CV should be no longer than 1 page, maximum 2 pages.
DON’T Do not use unreadable fonts and small sizes, it has to be easy to read and analyse. Too much text on the page makes it busy, no margins appear untidy and inaccurate, and a large typeface looks childish.
DO Suggested fonts are Times New Roman, Arial, Cambria, Verdana or Calibri and the suggested size is nomally 12.
DON’T Do not use CAPITAL LETTERS, you are not screaming.
DO If you are not a design addicted, maybe it is recommended to use a pre-made layout and format, so everything will be organized and clean. Your CV must be impeccably presented if you want to demonstrate your professionalism and attention to detail. This is a first way to show your skills.
DO Insert numbers and quantify. For example, how much did a company grow while you were there?
DO Using bullets can be useful to organize your content. Our mind loves lists and they simplify our reading process.
DO You need to be neat and concise. You will be given the chance to explain better all you experiences and ideas in an interview. The language must be clear, specific and direct. Do not speak in 1st and 3rd person, do not use pronouns: the person who reads knows who the subject of every sentence is and your name is at the very top of the page, so no need to state it all the time.
DON’T Pay attention to the typos in the word spelling and in your personal information as well (how can the interviewer contact you if the phone number or email is wrong?). Read your CV more than once and wait to have a fresh mind before reading it again, ask the help of a native speaker friend and use online dictionaries.
DO Include words like achieved, improved, trained, managed, ideas, win, volunteered, accurate, adaptable, earned, develop, planned, organized, targeted, structured, trained. Do not include them just because you have to, do it properly and logically.
DON’T Avoid words like awesome, salary negotiable, reliable, enthusiastic, passionate, strategic, responsible, hard-working, problem-solver, think outside the box, best of breed, motivated, communication skills, team player, strategic thinker, goal driven, independent, detail oriented. Use every line in the best way and avoid unnecessary information or
common words and skills that everybody mentions. You have to prove to be unique.
DO Write your skills without being ordinary and trivial. Remember that you will have to show rather than tell.
DON’T Never use very informal words, vague language or slang. Remember you are not addressing to a very close friend but to a possible future employer. Avoid passive verb forms, technical jargon, unrelated hobbies and clichès.
DO Tailor your CV based on the job you are applying to, always remember whom are you addressing to.
DO Mention all your working and studying experiences, not more, not less. Do not leave out essential information and list them in a chronological order, normally beginning with the most recent items (reverse chronological).
DON’T Do not lie. It is good and highly recommended to beautify your CV, but it is very unwise and counter-productive to lie.
DO Focus on what you did in the job, and not what your job was .
DON’T If there is some experience you are not proud of, nobody forces you to write it down.
DO Include a one or two top lines – job description first, then list your accomplishments per every job.
DON’T Avoid using the generic descriptions of the jobs you applied for. Make it personal.
DO Adding a picture is a controversial issue. The countries where you should include a picture on your CV are most of the European countries, China and Japan. While you should not add a picture in all applications for UK, Ireland, The Netherlands, Sweden, USA, Canada. If you do add a picture, it must be a passport sized one, no silly or party picture allowed.
DON’T In some countries it is not recommended to add your age, gender and marital status. Some career experts state that is better to avoid mentioning these kind of information.
DO Keep your CV updated and add references at the very end.
DON’T Do not mention your hobbies if they are very common and general. Mention them only if they support your candidacy and have something to do with the job description.
DO Your CV should include only positive information.
DON’T Never criticize a previous employer or refer to difficulties or disappointments unless you were able to turn them around.
DO Find alternatives to common adjectives and jump out of the pile. For example, instead of saying creative you can say I try to see the world differently or instead of leadership you can write examples like coach of the basketball team for two years. Play with the language in your advantage and let your actions speak on your behalf. Remember always to show rather then tell.
DO If you are attaching the CV to an email, remember that the first impression counts. Address the employer properly and politely and tell him/her how you meet their key requirements so that you can immediately entice them to open the attachment. In the subject line of the email list the vacancy title, reference number and where you saw or heard about the vacancy. Add the CV as an attachment clearly labelled with your name and add as corpus of t
he email a part of your cover letter.
DO When you submit a CV, always add a Cover Letter.
The secret to write a good CV is taking your time while writing it, think about it carefully and learn how to sell yourself.
The CV is the first step into your career and success, and if the CV looks good, than you will be given the chance to prove yourself too.