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10 Top Tips for a Winning CV

The difference between a good CV and a great CV can make or break your career…

It’s an essential tool in your job search, usually being the first contact someone has with you. Face to face first impressions count, we all judge people pretty quickly. A smile can
sometimes retrieve a difficult situation, but a bad CV will be in the bin in a matter of seconds
and there’ll be no second chance.

It never ceases to amaze me how bad some CVs are. Too much information, too little
information, inconsistent facts or dates and spellings!! There’s just no excuse for bad
spellings on a CV. A layout that’s pleasing to the eye is essential. It’s got to work to get you noticed by both a human and recruitment software.

1. Less is more
Your CV should be 1 or 2 pages, 3 max – never more. Remember you can add more information once you get to interview, but long CV’s are never read. Use bullet points and omit unnecessary or repetitive detail.

2. Font
Stick to black Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri or Tahoma. Don’t use italics, small or fancy fonts that strain the eyes. Keep it clean with lots of white space and no tables. If you are looking for an especially creative job it’s still best to have a formal CV and attach separate examples of your work.

3. Spelling
Use spell and grammar checks, check again then get someone else to check. Errors with spelling make you look stupid, slovenly and lazy – not the best first impression.

4. Dates
Check your dates and fill in the gaps, deal with any issues head on. People like to see a consistent career, but if you have made mistakes, acknowledge them, learn from them and move on.

5. The Beginning
An Objective, Personal Profile or Competency Statement should be where you start. It should lay out who you are and what you want, giving a feel for your personality, experience and skills. Always start with your current job after the initial profile, listing your roles in reverse order and education at the end. The only exception to this is for your first job when your education is possibly more important.

6. Sell, Sell, Sell
If you don’t sell yourself no-one else will. Never lie, but by all means emphasise the positives and leave out the negatives. A CV is a marketing tool to sell a product – you are the product. List down what you did, what you achieved and how you made a difference, use key words that matter for any future employer.

7. Know who you are
Don’t say that you are positive and confident if you are not. Be proud of who you are and highlight your strengths. Don’t try to be something you are not, if you get a job more suited to a different personality it won’t last.

8. 1,2,3
It is not unusual to have a number of different CV’s in fact every single CV should be written specifically for a job. It might just be the odd tweak here or there, but getting it right is so important and highlighting or emphasising different experiences or characteristics could make all the difference.

9. Sell, Make or Save
Think about what a future employer wants to know. How did you make a difference in your previous roles? Did you make money or save money or time, what did you or your team achieve. What can you bring to the table, how can you cover your costs and add value to the business?

10. Numbers
List values, growth or margins – saying you made a profit is not enough. Include the number of people you helped, spoke to or dealt with too.

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