You’ve seen it, its right there, staring up at you in black and white – THE job, the one designed for you and you alone. You want it. You must have it.
How can you get it?
It’s time to get to work on that CV and make them want you, just as much as you want that job.
Okay, let’s talk specifics.
What is a CV?
Well, a CV, or curriculum vitae to give it it’s rather formal and odd sounding name, is basically your chance to sell yourself, tell employers why you should work for them, tell them exactly what you can do for them, blow your own trumpet, big yourself up – we don’t get to do that too much in life, but this is one occasion where it’s perfectly acceptable to say ‘hey, I’m great, hire me’.
Don’t go too far towards big head territory though, nobody likes a show off.
A successful CV is about striking a balance and grabbing attention.
Put yourself in an employer’s shoes – they want someone for their job opening, and they advertise it, receiving a large number of CVs in response. They sit down, cup of coffee in hand, and decide to wade through them, trying to find the one person who will be perfect for the job. It’s a hard task, and probably quite a long one, so it’s important to make yours stand out from the rest.
You want your CV to be the one that makes the poor person who landed the job of reading through all the applications sit up and take notice – wake them up! Grab that opportunity by the horns! This is YOUR job, take it!
Okay, enough pep talk, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
How to write an attention-grabbing CV, worthy of that dream job
Tailor make, steer clear of generalisation
There is nothing worse than a generic CV. This screams ‘I don’t really care about this job, I just want to earn money and anything will do’, because you didn’t tailor it to the job, and you probably sent the same one out to about four other companies. Make your prospective employer feel warm and loved up, make them feel special, make them feel like you actually looked at the job description! The best way to do that is to identify key words in the person spec and the job description and weave them into your summary statement – which we’ll come onto very shortly.
Keep it short, keep it snappy
Whatever you do, don’t ramble, don’t go on, people do get bored. Generally the idea is to grab their attention within the first few lines, and then they’ll want to read more. Keep it relevant, and don’t go over two pages either – you’re not writing the next Harry Potter.
At the top of your CV, after your main details, such as name, address, contact details, including email, you need a summary paragraph. Don’t write more than this, because again, it will get boring, but keep it short, keep it snappy, and add some personality into it, because this is your personal statement, this is about you. On the other hand, keep in mind it needs to be professional, strike that balance. If you have any hobbies or interests that are vaguely relevant to the job you’re hoping to bag, then mention them, because that will make you stand out. If you can speak another language, certainly mention that too. Basically, anything impressive and relevant, especially qualifications – get it in there early.
Knock ’em for six
Tell your prospective employer what you can do for them, tell them how your skills will benefit them, convince them you’re the best thing since sliced bread, but don’t go over the top. Try to avoid explaining too much about what you’re looking for in a job, because they don’t really care what you want, they want to know what you can do for them – so tell them.
When you’re typing fast, and even when you’ve read it back a few times, the human eye is prone to a few errors, so make sure you run it by spell check! Sounds like common sense, but you know how it goes when you’re in a rush.
Once you’ve polished your CV up to what you think is the best you can do, find a willing panel of guinea pigs, and ask them to read it, highlight any problem areas and give you feedback. You need to trust these people, so make sure you ask those you know will give you constructive feedback, and not generally rip it to pieces for the hell of it, or simply tell you ‘yeah it’s fine’. Once you’ve got your all-important feedback, take it into consideration and do a re-draft. If you don’t agree, and I mean really don’t agree, then you don’t have to change it, but opinions are good.
Understanding what employers are looking for can be a difficult thing, but that’s why it’s really important to study the job description carefully. The job spec will also give you the essential and desirable skills and qualities they’re looking for in their chosen one, and you need to target your line of attack directly at what they want. Having said that, don’t let it distract you from blowing that trumpet loudly, because you want them to choose you, so forget being nice and modest, if you have a skill you’re proud of, then shout it loud!
Keep it concise, to the point, but full of your good points, and under no circumstances mention any shortcomings you may think you have. You don’t need to tell them, they don’t need to know, keep it quiet!
All that’s left to say is good luck – now, go knock ’em dead.