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Organising the Content and Formatting your CV

A CV’s content and layout that best represents you is the first step in getting you to the interview stage

Purpose of your CV

The purpose of your CV is to impress the reader within the first few seconds. This is the first step in putting your best foot forward and holding the reader’s interest for them to want to continue reading through your CV. This is why your CV must be as relevant to the job specification or advertising requirements as possible.

Order of Content

SUMMARY PROFILE

Start with a Summary Profile. This will include statement of your competencies, how you achieve results and how these will benefit the company and role you are applying for.

One way to approach this is to write a personal elevator pitch, a 30 second outline summarising who you are, what you do and what you are looking for. Have it ready for any situation on a CV, be confident enough to relay it at an interview or in networking situations.

KEY SKILLS

Follow the Summary Profile with a brief outline of Key Technical Skills and Soft Skills.

EDUCATION HISTORY

Your Education History will include third level qualifications and other qualifications/certification and certification renewal where applicable.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

You have caught the reviewers’ attention by now and they has a good idea of you and your competencies. It’s time now to provide the reviewer with your professional experience and achievements. This provides more specific insight into your achievements and also backs-up the information you have provided earlier in your Summary.

Display your professional career experience in reverse chronological order. Give Company name, title in roles/projects and dates. Write in first person, (this is about you, written by you).

Instead of writing lists of roles and responsibilities, describe the results you achieved in your roles or on projects giving the reader insight into your involvement on projects and results of your input.

This can be achieved by using active words to describe what you did to solve problems, (demonstrated, planned, reduced, optimised, accelerated) and using results words to describe how your actions solved the problem (accomplished, eliminated, increased, optimised).

Some examples:

  • Introduced the SCRUM agile methodology to development of Business Solutions
  • Increased company’s online performace by getting 56,000 registered users | 28,000 paying subscribers | 3,000+ social media followers
  • Implemented effective control procedures. Achieved significant improvements in call response time to 80% of calls being answered in 20 seconds or less.

Your more recent roles and projects will be the focus of your CV. Include but shorten older roles summarising information if your CV spans many years.

Make sure your content is correct. Titles and dates should represent the actual roles you had. Remember, companies usually do the background check and it’s better to make it right from the beginning.

LinkedIn is widely used by companies to cross-check your CV with your LinkedIn profile. Your CV and LinkedIn profile should mirror each other exactly, otherwise you are creating question marks in the heads of hiring managers.

Gaps in your career

If you’ve been lucky enough to have had travelled or have taken time out to pursue further studies or travel, use this as an opportunity to show achievements or skills gained without providing a travelogue of course.

Formatting, Grammar and Spelling

Microsoft Word is one of most common text editors to use and widely used by recruiters – so while making life easy for recruiters – this format also suits most applicant tracking systems – a place where CV formatting can suffer!

Use a simple “friendly” layout, I’d suggest a one column layout, along with commonly used fonts, separate areas applying bold or a larger font size for headings and include white space between sections and bulleted lists, all of which will allow the reviewer a more easily digestible read.

Know how to properly format text layout using indents, tabs and margins. Avoid hitting the spacebar to layout text as this will end up not looking very pretty after it travels through an application tracking system resulting in a “mangled” CV.

Final checks

Don’t just rely on automatic spell checkers. Read through the text and ensure correct grammar and spelling is used.

Finally read it over and have someone else review it for you.

Wrap it up

Your CV is good to go! Remember, it’s like your visiting card which you hand in to person who doesn’t know you. Make sure you are happy with the content and format of it and think it represents you the best!