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  • Stacey Baker

Hints & Tips for that perfect CV

Your CV is what is going to sell you to a future employer. Like it or not, a meeting/interview is going to come down to how you sell yourself on that piece of paper that they see, before you have had the opportunity to start explaining why you made this decision, or what you planned on doing there. Here are a few tips to help ensure that you make the most out of your CV, and get yourself infront of who you want to be your future boss!

A profile

A profile section is always necessary: For practically all types of jobseeker a profile section is a very good idea: it gives a brief introduction about you and your background, and gives you an excellent opportunity to sell your application. Include the most relevant and standout facts about you which match you to the job being advertised. Write one or two sentences that summarise your experience, skills, and perhaps a standout achievement. To be concise, merge your personal statement with your skill areas to make your profile even more striking.

Have structure in your job search

Create a spreadsheet, start with industries you're interested in, then take each industry individually, and identify employers within the sector. Use job sites to build a list of target companies, and start finding out who you need to talk to in each. Methodically send your CV, tailoring it and your cover letter to the role (or company if it's a speculative application). It will take time and commitment, but it will help you structure your jobseeking campaign.

Talk through your CV with a friend

A competency-based CV is pretty much what you need for all CVs now. It means that instead of just writing a list of your previous duties, you look at exactly what the employer says they are asking for and you show that you have what they need. My suggestion is go through each one of their selection criteria and think of where you have demonstrated it. It is helpful to talk it over with a friend or coach as sometimes it can be difficult to think of examples yourself.

Work experience is becoming vital for graduate applications

In a graduate CV you should be able to demonstrate your excellent academic credentials along with some work experience/internships/voluntary engagements you may have undertaken parallel to your degree. Work experience is becoming more and more important for employers when they screen potential candidates for graduate full-time positions.

Write your cover letter in the body of the email

The email is the first impression that you will give a recruiter. Therefore you are going to need to give some information about yourself and why you're right for the role. Too many times I see the comment: "I am applying for X role and attach my covering letter and CV". I'd like to see something about you in the email. I'd also like to see a cover letter as well. Emails have a tendency to be seen as having little value compared with a letter. So why not include a cover letter as well that goes into more detail than the email.

Do your research when applying abroad

If you'd like to work abroad then by all means do start exploring opportunities. However, if you are looking abroad because you think you can't find work here, then I'd suggest spending time investigating the line of work you want to do, which organisations you'd like to work for, and what ways you could break into the sector. Depending on what you're looking to do, don't discount small businesses or startups as a way of getting started, if it seems competition for places at the larger companies is fierce.

Seek work experience in your chosen field

A good route for voluntary experience is to look at the website of your local volunteer centre. Usually you can select the kind of experience you want – research, policy work, administration, or frontline work. Or perhaps offer the research skills from your degree to a local charity who might jump at the chance to commission a short project and give you more of an insight into social research.

Use numbers to back up CV examples

It is quite important to concisely provide examples of your best work, often from a numbers perspective. If this can be packed with your key skills this will enable your CV to reach the top of a CV search. For example, if I am looking for a front end web developer with Java, JavaScript, CSS, HTML etc., I will search all those key terms as well as location. Using numbers to back up examples will help push your CV to the top of the pile when recruiters are searching.

Key words are essential for competency-based CVs

Key words are essential today, if only to get past the software scans. Don't spam your CV though by repeating tracts from the advert unnecessarily – you'll be rejected before anyone's even read your application. Examples are always good – try to show a good story about why you're doing this line of work, why this job is the next step for you. Add information which supports your assessment of the key competencies required for that role.

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