Confining a resume to a single page is good advice for anyone. – Daniel Lyons
What is the purpose of a CV?
The purpose of a CV is only one thing – to get you the first interview. Many people get this wrong. A good CV is just the first step, allowing you to get your foot in the door and have a chance to shine at the interview in person to have the best chance to secure the job. Because it is such an important step your CV should be updated ad revised frequently.
What aspects should you look at to create a killer CV?
GOAL: You want the person that reads your CV to read it all the way through.
This is where the ‘30-second rule‘ comes in. A recruiter is likely to spend between 30 seconds and a minute scanning a CV – just long enough to read it (and to notice any spelling mistakes). So first impressions count. As you put your CV together, ask yourself if it is clear, easy to read and if the formatting is consistent throughout.
Three aspects to focus on:
Readability: This is an all-encompassing term that involves the design, spacing, font size, and arrangement of content for maximum legibility. Disorganized sections, inconsistent spacing, and margins that are squeezed too tight could be interpreted as a representation of your professional self. If you pay a lot of attention to designing a professional CV for yourself, you will probably do that for the hiring company as well. A sharp, neat, and concise CV crafted specifically for the job is what hiring managers look for.
Objective statement: Describes your current role, the field of expertise and why. This is the first thing a recruiting manager reads after your contact information at the top. It is very important that it intrigues h, so make sure it counts and intrigues them to read the next line! It should be short and concise, a maximum 3 (short) sentences long. Your objective statement has to be customized for every single job you apply for, there’s no one size fit all here!
Length: Your CV should be at maximum 2 pages long, with normal margins and legible font size. So be concise, every word counts. Everything you write has to have a purpose to demonstrate why you’re the perfect candidate for the job, if not, it shouldn’t be there.
Education and qualifications
The next section is straightforward; it should be short, brief, and relevant. List your professional qualifications first (if any), then degree and name of educational institution, in reverse chronological order. It should be up to 3 items at maximum, so just list the recent 3, such as a Gr 12, university degree, and college results. You need most of the space for the next important section.
Here’s the section to focus 80% of your energy on, where you list and describe your past/current roles, and what you actually did for that job. Do not write this section in task-based format where you describe what you did in your previous jobs with lots of buzzwords – it has a negative value and is usually a lot of nonsense.
Instead, be like the rare 10% that make it by writing what you’ve accomplished by stating what is the (measurable) impact of your work. My rate of interview invitations jumped upon making this change. You must prove that you’re a great hire not only because you get things done, but you also deliver measurable results and are worth the investment.
YES Example: ‘’I did Task A, B, and C which reached 5000 people and provided housing for 500 families’’
NO Example: ‘’I did task A (designed a complex), B (were part of the construction team), and C (budgets).’’
Do you know which is more impressive and convincing? Of course, that is not to say you should make up numbers or fake things you didn’t do (never do that, they will know during the interview), but for every task you do, you’ll now be keener to find out why you’re doing it, and what impact does it have.
Another example, even if you’re a PowerPoint monkey, instead of saying “Research and prepare presentations for clients” which is task-based, say “produced succinct marketing materials and clear explanations of complex products to target client audience“. There’s ALWAYS a purpose and value-add to what you’re doing, no matter how menial it may seem. That is what makes your role significant.
Avoid buzzwords like “managed teams” and “coordinated strategies.” These are waffles that don’t mean anything. Always focus on the results of what you did to demonstrate your value to your potential new employer.
Skills and achievements
Here is the last section where you can list both work and non-work-related skills, make it relevant to the job you’re looking for though! It’s meant to be a boost to your current work experience while showing a little bit of your individuality through your achievements. It could be that you’re very proficient at using Bloomberg, speak Chinese and Italian, or used to be a tennis champion – use your judgment here. Just a few bullet points in this section will do.
Don’t forget to leave some space for “references available upon request” too! And make sure you found 2 willing references who have worked with you in a professional capacity for this ready.
Revise, edit, and reiterate
You never get it right the first time, there’s a lot of revision and editing to craft your CV to be perfect for the role. Even your choice of email address can be a potential pitfall, so if it sounds at all dodgy or unprofessional, avoid using it. Like writing, it’s better to flesh out all your thoughts and ideas in one go, section by section, before rephrasing and cutting it down to what’s relevant and most important to highlight. You’ll get there after a few iterations.
Over to you…
Always, remember though, a good CV is just the first step. Even having a university qualification doesn’t guarantee you a job because experience counts. You need to be awesome at interviews too to snag that job! But these are the magical ingredients for a successful job search, and the good news is you get better with more interview practice.