Mark Atkinson – Content Writer
In the past I’ve been called upon write or edit CVs. Previously as an HR manager I’ve seen my fair share – many full of typos and carelessly presented. You may be supremely talented in your field, but unless you make the very most of your CV it’s unlikely you’ll get the chance to prove it in an interview. Here are five points to consider:
Don’t cram. There should be more white than black on the page – and leave margins of at least 2.5cm. Use one clear uniform font throughout and be consistent in your line spacing and positioning of bullets. That said, don’t waste time – get the content down first and leave final presentation touch-ups to the end.
Proofread, proofread, proofread. Once you’ve completed your CV you should be doing at least three edits to get everything absolutely right. Mistakes and inaccuracies are a killer. If needs be, let someone else look over it for you.
Keep it to two pages maximum if possible – concise and easy to read. Again, editing and reediting will help you whittle it down. Use short sentences and avoid long lists of bullets under each position. Aim for six bullets maximum for each if you can, but dedicate the most detail for the most recent positions. For positions going back a number of years you may just want to list the company, job title and dates.
In your bullets, open with power words that demonstrate what you have done and use them in the present tense: Conducting; Directing; Establishing; Resolving; Leading; Solving. But equally be realistic and make sure you can qualify what you’ve written in an interview setting.
Support your CV with a solid application letter and personalise it as much as possible. Use the name of the company a couple of times (don’t overdo it) and make references to why you think you’re the right person for the job. “I believe my skills are highly suitable for the position of XXX (job role) at XXX (company)…As you will see from my CV I have particular experience in…”
Finally, a very useful book I’ve used in the past is How to Write a Winning CV by Alan Jones (ISBN no. 0 7126 7024 6). The last edition was a few years back, but it still has a lot of very relevant advice, comprehensive lists of power words, and practical examples of CVs and application letters.
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Mark Atkinson - Content Writer