Tips to improve your CV
By Angela Tjalsma, CV Editor, Sli Nua Careers (Ballinrobe)
With competition becoming more and more intense – not just for securing employment, but even getting called to interview – it is critical to have a first-rate CV.
This document is the first point of contact the potential employer has with you: for this reason it is crucial for your CV to be as powerful as it can be.
Here we outline a number of tips you can take on board when scripting your ‘course of life’.
- This might sound silly but get the basics right. It doesn’t look good to a potential employer when they receive a CV and the person can’t spell their address or the name of former employers. Do not be blasé about the details. Although you know the information like the back of your hand it is still imperative to take a meticulous Santa Claus approach: check it more than twice.
- If you’re not confident about your writing abilities, do not be shy about seeking a helping hand, whether it’s from a friend, colleague or a professional. Give yourself every chance of producing a document of which you can be proud. If that means getting someone else to write it, then so be it: you’ve achieved everything within the CV, you are merely asking for a ghost writer to knock the details into shape.
- To put in a binder or not to put in a binder? That is a common question. This can be put down to personal preference. Some people prefer the bound book-like impression, others favour a simple staple. It is six of one and a half dozen of the other, but I will say this: put yourself in the shoes of the person sifting through a pile of CV’s? The book-like impression may come across as less accessible than others. Subsequently a person who might be cantankerous due to a high volume of work she may simply choose not to include you on the shortlist for this reason. Harsh yes, but one must take every eventuality into consideration.
- Bridging the gap is a common issue people face when setting out to write a CV. Visible gaps in employment do not reflect well on a candidate, although most of the time there can be a valid and simple reason for them. Nevertheless, if these gaps are not explained in the CV, you might not get a chance to explain them in the interview. Be somewhat explicit in explaining why there might be a gap, do not be afraid to include reasons such as ‘to work in the home rearing my children’ or ‘unemployed but actively sought employment and further training and up skilling’ or the like.
- Brevity is the soul of CV writing. Decide what the employer needs to know about you – what is it you have done, or what characteristics or skills you possess, that will interest the employer. To make good stuff stand out, other stuff must be deleted. Be decisive. Yes, we favour getting your CV onto two pages – not because of some quasi-legal injunction to do so, but because a target of two pages forces brevity upon you. The employer doesn’t wish to wade through every last detail, and they will be grateful to you for making the decisions that make the important information stand out.
Angela Tjalsma is CV Editor with Sli Nua Careers and works out of Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. You can make a booking HERE to have your CV, Personal Statements and Application Forms completed by Angela.
More articles from her blog can be accessed HERE