By Angela Tjalsma, CV Editor, Sli Nua Careers (Ballinrobe)
Q: I haven’t written a CV in 20 years – not since I left school. I understand that everything has changed since back them. For a start, I have 20 years of work underneath my belt now. Not to mention three children and less hair! Plus it is obvious that communications have undergone a revolution in the interim. Can you give me a few quick pointers for my CV? (EH, email)
A. You’re not wrong there – since last you wrote a CV, the world has changed dramatically. Information and communication technology have developed exponentially.
But the heart of the matter remains the same: your CV exists to help you get the job. It is a ‘personal brochure’ for you, extolling your benefits and features.
Accordingly, I am happy to give you six pointers below, but I do not want you to become constrained by structure: the structural points I make are all done under the banner of facilitating the transmission of key information to the potential employer. The structure is secondary to the content.
- Get to the key information early. Tidy off your contact details into a line or two. You don’t even need to write Curriculum Vitae across the top. Use words sparingly so that you don’t obscure the important information.
- Write a Personal Profile, or Career Objective, or Summary early in your CV. Here you should summarise your key attributes. Think about the employer’s needs as you write them, and seek to meet those needs.
- Move from Personal Profile (or similar section) to another summary section entitled Key Achievements, Skills and Attributes. This section should illustrate skills and attributes you possess, and achievements you have to your name, that help to present you as a suitable person for the job. Again, think of the employer’s needs – what will get her nodding her head? Be aware that you may draw on work, studies, sporting, community, charity or other aspects of your life in this section.
- Does the relevant work experience jump stronger out of your CV than the less relevant work? Make decisions that will allow the vital work experience to command pride of place. Not all past work is equal: decide on what work most attracts the employer and give more space and prominence to that.
- Don’t ask the employer to read too much. Cut to the chase. Present your CV as a distillation of your life to date – and let ‘relevance to the employer’ be the ultimate determinant of how you distil all you have done thus far in your career and life.
- Show enthusiasm. In your cover letter or CV, tell the employer that you would like to do the job, and that you feel you would do a good job for him. Let them feel your passion. This is something many job-seekers leave outside the door, so to speak, whereas most employers want to feel that enthusiasm and desire. Don’t over-cook it, but don’t omit it either. It could be the very thing that gets you called to interview, or, in an interview situation, it might be the difference between finishing as winner rather than as runner-up. Be careful, however, not to have too much repetition in the Cover Letter. A few sentences outlining your suitability and passion for the role should be sufficient, apart from the usual pleasantries and formalities.
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