As a recruiter, I have received a wide array of CV’s ranging from the weird to the wonderful and I am regularly asked by those I help find a new opportunity, ‘how is my CV?’. It’s a tough question to answer as I am a firm believer that a CV should reflect the individual and that following my guidance would lead to my all contacts having a very similar appearance on paper. However, I do have some useful tips to help you stand out in the email inbox!
My first tip is to have a clear structure; it is comparable to writing a short essay – and my tip is to plan ahead! There is no golden recipe as to whether you should begin with your educational background, most recent experience or your most dashing photo, but I do find that a brief overview of who you are, what you are currently doing and what you hope to achieve grabs the attention. Cover letters are not as common as they once were and the initial profile, which I would suggest you keep to a paragraph, is your chance to grab the reader’s attention!
Beyond the opening ‘Profile’ I don’t believe you should stick to a particular order as to whether ‘Education’ or ‘Experience’ follow. However, always begin your ‘Experience’ section with your most recent job and take the time to demonstrate your qualities. As a planner your duties will be well known so expand on them and use project examples to demonstrate when you have managed an application or dealt with a particularly challenging project. In a competitive job market it is essential you are showcasing your qualities at every opportunity.
Whilst using project examples throughout your CV I always recommend the benefits of documenting your projects separately. For those currently working their way through the APC process this isn’t too uncommon - having a CV accompanied by a document that showcases your project experience not only leads you to stand out, but acts as a great talking point for your interview and helps you to not forget anything useful in the interview!
Let your personality come through on your CV! All too often we see ‘Hobbies & Interests’ contain one or two lines lacking a display of character when this is an opportunity to showcase some of your personality. Tell us about a personal ambition you are working towards, the social interests you have outside of seeing your friends or a recent achievement you are proud of.
Lastly, but crucially, please spell check your CV and get a second opinion on grammar. I don’t believe you to need tips on content, but once you’ve spent your evening (after a busy day at work) putting together your career highlights it is very easy to miss the comma that has snuck randomly into the sentence or the time you’ve failed to capitalise your company name. Many of our clients become frustrated when it is apparent CV’s have not been proof-read and planners are expected to be diligent on this matter!
I hope my tips can be of use to you, but please always remember to be yourself when putting together your CV and appearing at an interview – that is what will set you apart from your competition!
Jason Moore is principal consultant at recruitment agency the Blayze Group