Before you get started….


Many job seekers come to us hoping that we hold the key to making their CV stand out amongst a sea of people with similar experience. We’re sorry to say there isn't a silver bullet. What we can tell you though, is that the best thing you can do for yourself is to have a CV that clearly and succinctly communicates your experience. Finessing this difficult task will set your CV apart from the others right from the starting block. 


When potential employers and recruiters read your CV and cover letter, they’re trying to get a solid understanding of the skills you bring to the table, a sense of aptitude and willingness to learn, and some insight into your personality.


It can be overwhelming to think about strategically summarising what you do everyday, or what you did in a previous role in just a few bullet points and a cover letter. We hope this guide will help to get you started. 


Writing your CV 


Because what you do everyday at your current job or previous job can be overwhelming, we’d recommend starting with your job description. Think about what you want to highlight and bring to the forefront and focus on those things. Ask yourself if they are in line with what the company your applying to sees as beneficial. Recruiters and employers are trying to get to know you through your CV and cover letter. Help to show us your personality, your strengths, your skills, and how we would benefit from hiring you.

  • The Objective Statement.


Before you start, think about the position that you are applying to. You may want to craft a compelling (and succinct!) Objective Statement at the top of your CV. This is particularly effective if your current or past experience isn’t directly related to the job for which you are applying.  


While we’d like to think that all recruiters and employers are reading your whole CV and thinking critically about where you might add value, the reality is, they might be buried in submissions. Don't leave them to their own devices to discern how your skills are transferrable. Tell them! Explain why you want to make the transition and what makes you relevant. Think of the Objective Statement as the lens through which you want the reader to view the rest of your experience. If you are aspiring to make an industry change or a career shift, this is the place to explain WHY you are interested and HOW your past experience makes you a good candidate. 


You also don't HAVE to have an objective statement. If you think you present a compelling case in the cover letter, or your fit in their company is obvious, or you feel you don't have anything to say that is interesting / compelling / adds value, then no problem! Skip it. 

  • Bullet Point Descriptions of your Role and Responsibilities.


Think about what you want to highlight about your current role, and what experience might be the most relevant for the role you are trying to land. We often recommend, for the sake of brainstorming, that you start by casting a wide net - create a master list that has everything you do (or did) in that role. You can pull from your master list and edit your CV based on the role and company to which you are applying. 


  • Do Your Research and Customise Your Submission. 


Once you have a well crafted objective and lists of what you did in each job, tailor them for each submission. That is not to say that you should fabricate or sugar coat the experience that you've had, but you should think strategically about what to highlight. 


Reading a prospective employer's job descriptions, looking at the profiles of their current employees on LinkedIn, and doing your research will help give you clues about the best way to customise your content. What are the types of adjectives they’ve used on their website or in the job description? Work those words into your CV. At the end of the day, you should be spelling out exactly what your experience is and taking out the guesswork for the CV reader.


Formatting Your Resume


We get asked a lot of questions about CV formatting. While this can vary from industry to industry, here are some general rules:


  • The One Page Rule. 


Going over one page for a CV isn’t a real problem. If you have compelling information that you feel is pertinent to the job at hand and need to go over, go for it. But, if you feel like you are trying really hard to extend your CV and fill in the page, then don’t push yourself to get there. The content of the CV is so much more important than the length. 


  • Education. 


Depending on the field you are in, the correct placement for your education might vary.  Rule of thumb: If it’s not directly relevant, we don’t need to know all your universeity activities.


The exception here of course is if you are just out of school and don’t have much job experience, then go ahead and put this first. As you get a more varied body of professional work, move your education to the bottom of your CV.


  • Consistency. 


Another tip is to remain consistent in your tenses. We have no preference, but our inclination is to speak to your current job in the present and your past experience in the past. You can also use bullet point answers, but do keep an eye out for consistency. That is, if you are going to add a period at the end of a bullet point, then add a period at the end of each and every bullet point.


  • Contact Info. 


Add easy contact info at the top of your CV. We should be able to figure out how to contact you very quickly. This is also for your benefit! 


  • File Type. 


Many employers use what they call Applicant Tracking Systems to keep track of their pool of candidates. We can appreciate a beautifully designed PDF CV (as long as the focus is on the content and it's easy to read), but these CV’s aren't searchable in a lot of these systems. If you send a beautifully crafted PDF file, consider also sending a Word Doc too.



In tomorrow’s Guide to Getting Ahead we’ll explore the cover letter and also the What not to do’s on your CV.


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