How to Get a Job! Part 4 – Your CV

duckinggoodcv copy

Today I thought I’d try something a little different. I knew that I wanted a post about writing an amazing CV…but the thing is, I have no idea how to write CVs well. So, I called upon my blogger friend Amanda from Chick in Wellies who is a professional CV writer!

Over to Amanda!

How to Write a Ducking Great CV

Hi, I’m Amanda from Chick in Wellies! Freelance writer and pretend farm owner. I often have to shut my windows while interviewing customers for their CVs due to the cockerels crowing. I work for a few different professional CV writing companies and have direct customers too. This is my first guest post and I feel privileged to be asked. Thank you Charlotte!

Here are some basic CV writing rules

  1. Write a strong profile
  2. Keep to 2 pages
  3. 10 years’ job history
  4. Do not add your date of birth or nationality (UK)
  5. Sell yourself – don’t be shy
  6. Write in either the first person OR the third person – do not mix
  7. Use Ariel Narrow font size 11. This enables you to add more to the CV and is the standard
  8. No need to add references. Put references available on request at the end
  9. In the UK? No photo needed. Use LinkedIn for that.

Your Profile

A profile is the gateway to an interview. The job market is saturated and employers skim read CVs, therefore your CV needs to stand out. It’s all about getting your foot in the door and winning an interview.

Choose a simple template, add your name and contact details to the top as big and bold as you like and write a profile. It should be two or three paragraphs with short, snappy sentences that highlight your skills and how you can add value to the role.

It can be written in first or third person. I write in third person to allow the employer to envisage you and your skills and it sounds more professional than first person. This is my personal opinion as apart from the basic rules, there is no right or wrong way to write a CV.

What words describe you?

Grab some paper and write down words that describe you. Dynamic, engaging, natural leader, creative, motivated? Let the employer get to know your personality in the first sentence of your profile.

Key skills

Brainstorm your key skills. Select the skills that match the job you are going for and write your profile using your top three or four skills. If you have a long list of key words, put them under a new heading underneath the profile.

Brainstorming questions for your profile

  • Do you manage people? What is your management style?
  • Are you good at customer service? Which aspect?
  • Is your strength in communications? Are you multi-lingual?
  • Are you organised, good at multitasking, planning etc.
  • Are you an IT expert? What is your recent technical skillset?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What do you enjoy about your job?

Break out from the norm and do not write you are good at working in a team or on your own. Highlight communication skills, leadership skills and organisational skills instead. Stand out from the rest.

Bingo! The employer now knows all about you and you have successfully kept their attention. They will read your work experience instead of binning your CV.

Work Experience

Add ten years of work experience as a maximum. Summarise your work experience into bullet pointed lists. This makes it clearer for the potential interviewer and helps to keep the CV short.

Turn your job description into achievements. Never start copy the job description e.g. To deliver project on time and to budget. To manage a team. Turn it into an achievement:

  • Achieved all KPIs and delivered project X on time and under budget.

Go one step further and add some achievements, facts and figures are great

  • Successfully innovated, designed and implemented project X saving £1M in revenue for the company and increased overall profit by 50%.

You could even add an achievements section underneath the profile. That’s selling yourself.

Education

Finally, add an education section. If you have a degree or higher, there is no need to add GCSEs. Don’t forget to add any professional qualifications and certifications.

Good luck with your job hunt!

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Comments

  1. Great post! As a designer I normally make my own templates to use! What always messes me up is writing a good cover letter, I just falter through them!
    Jess recently posted…Travel Diaries: Bemus PointMy Profile

    • Charlotte says:

      I love fancy CV templates! I actually made myself a CV with Photoshop – took me ALL night. It didn’t do me any good for the job I applied for, but I’m proud that I did it.

      Cover letters are a good one as well… Hmm maybe I should do a post on that, too.

  2. I use askamanager.org for a lot of job advice as well. Ironically, I’ve not actually used her advice on my own job searches, but I have used it when buffing up my friends’ cover letters and resume.

    When I did the JET leaver’s conference I wasn’t super impressed by one of their career councilors as I later learned his advice was pretty bad. However he did have one good point in that your resume should have a lot of words like ‘first, best, only, youngest etc’. It really helps make your achievements stand out.
    What stands out more : Started project X with company which won an award for YZ.
    or
    Youngest person in my department and First person at company to start project X, which won the only award our company recieved that year.

    • Charlotte says:

      Yeah you’re totally right. That’s a really good point. I guess it sucks if you don’t have many superlatives to talk about though!

      • Ah there’s always something you can talk about. First employee to implement new technologies for testing. (translation – I was the first teacher to insist we stop using a tape recorder to make the listening tests)

  3. These are great tips!! Luckily, I just got a job, but I’m going to forward this to a friend who is job searching!
    ~Sara
    Sara Strauss recently posted…Books & Looks: SaraMy Profile

    • Charlotte says:

      Oooh congrats! I’m not sure if American resumes are different to British CVs but I’m sure the structure is the same? Hmm maybe that could be another post topic!

  4. CVs differ greatly between Germany and the US (and I assume also between the UK and US). But some points will always stay the same: Selling yourself – over and over again! Also, here it is recommended to have 1 page when you are beginner to junior but I have begun applying with a 2-page-resume lately and it doesn’t seem to be too much of a no no. Does your friend do CVs exclusively for the UK?
    Laura4NYC recently posted…Fleet Week 2014: The Fun Has Returned!My Profile

    • Charlotte says:

      I’m not sure – you should ask her! I’m sure she’d be glad to help you. Have a look on her Facebook page.

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