When you apply for a job in writing or online, the first thing your potential employer looks at in most cases is your curriculum vitae (CV). As the saying goes, you only get one chance at making a first impression and this definitely counts for your CV. You need to pay careful attention to getting it right.
What does your CV need to contain?
Your CV is your calling card. It is common knowledge that employers base their first selection round entirely on CVs. So make sure it is at the very least faultless and complete, and is suitable for the job you are applying for. Your CV needs to contain at least the following elements:
- A summary. Describe in a few sentences who you are, what you are looking for and what you are good at.
- Your personal data (name, address, date of birth)
- Your education. Only list education that is relevant to the position you are applying for. If you are applying for a bookkeeping position, your successfully completed woodwork course is not of any interest to your potential employer.
- Your work experience. Write down where you have worked in the past five to ten years. You can add jobs from longer ago if they are relevant to the job you are applying for.
- A photograph. Do not use a boring passport picture. Instead you should invest in a personal and professional profile photograph. A professional looking CV will definitely end up higher on the pile of applicants’ CVs.
- You can consider adding hobbies, social activities and volunteer work to your CV. This is another way to showcase aspects of your personality and motivation.
A few more tips:
- Keep it brief. A curriculum vitae should be no longer than two pages. Think about the person who is evaluating all these CVs. Would you want to have to read through long essays?
- Put together a new CV for each job application. No two jobs are the same, nor are two bosses. Pay attention to things in your CV that may just be the defining factor in this specific case.
- Stand out! Use colour, a striking font, and be creative in your CV formatting so that you get noticed. Of course you should not go too far. Make sure the tone of your CV matches the position you are applying for.
- Be different. Why should your CV be on paper? Some people have a professional video made in which they introduce themselves. This adds a nice personal touch, and the employer already has a personal impression of you before you have even come in for an interview. This really gives you a head start.
Your CV for online applications
Job applications are taking place online more often now so you will have to submit your CV online at times. An online CV gives you the chance to stand out more. You can incorporate videos for example, or slides of previous work you have done. You can include hyperlinks, to your own website for example, or sites of previous employers. The opportunities are practically unlimited. See also other tips by Robert Half.