Professional CV writing lessons: A CV is not one of those documents that you lock away in a safe, special or secret place, but there is no doubt it is one of the most important A4 double-sided pieces of paper you will ever have to write. Yes, in case you were wondering, two sides is indeed the optimum length. Like most things in life, writing a CV is not rocket science, however, the ones that really stand out and ensure that you are on top of the shortlist pile and not relegated to the reject folder take time and really do amalgamate art with science.
We wanted to share a few of our tried and tested professional CV writing lessons, in case yours was due a dusting:
WHO, WHAT, WHY
This really is key and a bit of time spent at this stage will pay off. Who is the target company, or the target sector. Do you seek career progression, a lateral move, or a complete change? Once you have pinned this down, the next question is what will be expected of you in terms of hard and soft skills, and once you’ve got that, why would they pick you over potentially hundreds of other candidates.
We get asked this a lot and as mentioned at the outset, your CV should be no more than two sides. The only exception is for project-based roles, where one extra appendix page is acceptable for listing and drilling down a bit more on your past projects. It does appears quite daunting at times to distil everything onto two pages, and that’s what makes tactical CV writing such an art.
Some people are really good at highlighting their achievements, others find it quite difficult and assume they have none. We know for a fact that everyone has achievements, but just need a bit of reminding, because you take them so much for granted in your daily role. If you find yourself struggling with this, have a really good think about what you do on a day-to-day basis and jot it down. What problems have you overcome? What savings have you made? What value addition have you brought? Think of all those times that you went the extra mile and before you know it those stand-out achievements will reveal themselves. And since you’ve already taken the time to figure out the who, what and why, you can now tie the whole package neatly together.
THIRD-PERSON SINGULAR ALWAYS
We want to convey all those stand-out achievements, however, we want to do it so it looks objective, professional and as a narrative, so it’s time to ditch the ‘I’ and the ‘my’.
Spellings, grammar and formatting all have to be 110% perfect, actually make that 210%; you see where we are going with this. There is quite simply no margin for error. Check, check and recheck, and if possible ask someone to eyeball your CV before you push that send button. Here’s a little insider secret, always print the final document and read it, you might be surprised to see how missed, subtle errors jump out. Don’t forget to recheck the document properly after you make any changes, a spot check just won’t do.
Please remember to include a phone number and an email address; you can include it at the top and in the footer.
We hope our professional cv writing lessons. These tips are a good starting point and to find out about a free confidential CV review or for information on our LinkedIn profile writing and coaching services, do give us a call on +44 20 7100 6656. Our professional CV writers and coaches have expertise across all sectors and understand the needs of every career stage, from graduate all the way through to C-Level and Executive, and know exactly what it takes to help you stand out from the competition.
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