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5-minute CV Makeover By Julian Smith

Why bother?

Some people manage to get jobs through their networks, and might drift through life without ever writing a CV. Most of us aren’t that lucky, however, and need a CV to get us noticed by an employer, and ideally, hired when it comes to an interview. Investing time in writing a good CV is essential, so why not follow a few of our tips?

The Basics…

If you’ve never written a CV before, there are plenty of sources on the internet to get you started. A good, basic CV should take you several hours to write, and writing an excellent CV will take even longer. Firstly, you’ll need to choose between chronological or skills-based CV formats. Most people opt for the former, but choose the latter if you don’t have lots of relevant experience, and are looking to change careers, sectors – or even hide the gaps in your work history!

  • The length of your CV depends on what type of job you are applying for: Consultants, CEOs, published academics or scientists, for example, can stretch up to three or four sides, but the standard length is two pages.
  • Remember, good spelling and grammar are essential! Make sure to proofread to minimise errors, and ask a friend to check – especially words written in block capitals. Don’t let a spelling or grammar mistake be the ultimate decision maker on whether or not you get called for an interview.
  • Don’t take short cuts. When updating your CV, remember to read through the rest of the CV, and weed out anything which is no longer relevant, or which looks like a ‘copy and paste’ job from a former job description.
  • Stick to the same tense! Change the tense of your ‘current’ duties when they become ‘past’ duties, etc., and ideally, use the present continuous tense (e.g. producing reports, managing budgets, winning contracts, etc.) throughout.
  • You need to avoid repetition, even if you performed broadly similar duties in your last role, and find different ways to start each bullet point, rather than starting each with ‘I …’
  • Another thing to avoid is jargon or terms which are specific to your role, industry or company, and unlikely to be understood by others – unless of course, those specific terms are exactly what your next employer looks for!
  • Think of the overall impression your CV gives. If it looks appealing and easy to read, you’re more likely to be brought in for an interview. Choose a modern font, opt for an attractive layout, and think of ways to make it stand out from the crowd (colour for headings, short paragraphs or bullet points, separate sections, etc.).

Final thoughts…

You are more likely to be invited for an interview if your skill set matches the person specification. Once you have a good CV, tailor it for each role for which you’re applying, using the information a potential employer gives you as a blue print for your CV. Remember, the better the match, the greater the chance of landing an interview.


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