When it comes to CV Writing there are few absolutes, as how we communicate is a reflection of our own style, preference and experience. However a good CV is one that is easily understood by the reader, otherwise it’s not effective communication. What I have outlined below are the guidelines and principles I follow in writing CVs. My preference is to keep it simple, clear and professional while providing evidence of ability.
The most important thing to be aware of is that recruiters are inundated with CVs. First impressions matter. It needs to look attractive and easy to read. If it doesn’t look like an easy, simple read, a recruiter won’t want to go any further. These are the layout principles I follow:
- Two pages is standard
- A font size that is large enough for anyone to read, say 11
- A balance between text and white space
- Signposts to highlight the information a recruiter wants to establish in a 20 second glance
- Chronological order, beginning with most recent experience
- Introduction to the scope of your role in umbrella terms which sets the scene
- Action statements which demonstrate ability and present a clear insight into your work
- Give a sense of appealing character traits, attitudes and added value
- Use of clear, succinct, uncomplicated and accurately descriptive language without jargon
If you can point to achievements in addition to day to day operational responsibilities so much the better. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you think about what those might be.
- If you are/were part of a team, be clear on your role and what you added
- What would have been missing if you hadn’t been involved?
- Would the project have drifted, gone off course, become chaotic etc
- What role did you play? Were you the driver, the motivator, the complete finisher?
- How did you motivate? How did you lead?
- What improvements have you initiated, led or suggested?
- When did you save time or money?
- Have you improved or introduced new ways of doing things that brought efficiency or improved morale?
- Have you documented or provided an information resource for others to refer to?
- Have you presented or communicated information or ideas to influence others?
Achievements are king in terms of quality CV information. They provide the best evidence of your ability and what value you can add. So if your job allows you the scope to change or improve things that can provide valuable information for prospective employers.
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“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to be able to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” Martin Luther King Jnr