Q: I am going to apply for new jobs and I need to update my CV. Any golden rules to follow?
Yes, there certainly are. A CV is a very important tool but a poorly prepared one can do more harm than good. The following are my suggestions for the do's and don'ts of preparing and producing a CV.
- Keep it to two or certainly a maximum of three pages
- List your major achievements and highlight key jobs
- Spend time on presentation. Things to look out for include using a 'serif' font (i.e. with 'feet' and 'tails', such as Times) in a large, readable size and checking spelling and grammar thoroughly
- Highlight your personality, and any work in your sector's hinterland
- Get a critical friend to read it through for you
- Throw everything in
- List all your training courses
- List hobbies as an afterthought
- Assume 'one size fits all' - you should always adapt your CV for the particular job you are applying for.
- Speculate - don't write one CV and then shower it on unsuspecting employers
- Forget to fill in the application form carefully if there is one
Computers and emails can be quick and easy to use, but can lead to laziness about job applications. In applying for a particular job, you need to consider carefully how the role would suit you, and what individual strengths and abilities you would bring to the post in question. So while I suggest you do update your CV, this is no substitute for spending time on honing a CV to a particular job.
Most employers will spell out a specification for the person they want and the core tasks to be fulfilled. You need to spell out exactly why your individual skills and achievements make you the perfect match, and highlight the key relevant points in your career.
Remember, employers do not have a lot of time to delve through every CV and form they receive - you need to make it easy for them. "See CV" is not an appropriate answer to any question on an application form.
The good news is that the time spent on presentation will pay off. I have seen thousands of really dreadful CVs - yours can be the exception.
Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.