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CV and Interview advice
Your CV needs to be more than a simple list of your previous responsibilities and job titles. It must promote you by showing WHAT you can do, as well as WHERE and HOW you have done it.
In other words, it describes your achievements and skills as well as former job titles and functions.
Your CV should be:
- To the point
- Devoid of waffle
The Basics - CV Format Checklist
- Print in black ink on one side only of A4 white paper, using standard typeface e.g. Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica
- Your name should be at the top of the page
- There is no need to write ‘CV’ at the top of the page – it wastes space!
- Font sizes of 10-12 for text and sizes 11-14 for headings. Use capital letters/bold for emphasis
- Don’t use italics, underlining, shading, graphics, vertical/horizontal lines or boxes
- Use key words picked from the job description that you’re applying for
- Set off your achievements by solid bullet points and with action words or phrases
- Date ranges (i.e. years at a company) should be on the same line
- Avoid using personal pronouns i.e. instead of ‘I managed a team of four’, write: ‘Managed a team of four.’
- Include links to the companies that you've worked for if it's not immediately obvious what they do
- Use the past tense
- Choose strong action verbs
- Generally, avoid abbreviations
- Make your point quickly in the upper third of the page
- Avoid coloured paper or strange fonts
- There is no right length for a CV – get all the information down without waffling
- Keep the look simple and clean
Types of CV
CV format is not ‘one size fits all’…you can adapt the way you lay out your CV to fit the type of role you’re looking for and where you want the emphasis to lie. And don’t forget – you can tailor your CV every time you apply for a role – there’s no reason to send the same version to everyone.
1. The chronological CV
This is the traditional CV format that focuses on your career history. Use it when you are looking for a job in a similar career area, and use the layout detailed above.
2. The Functional or Skills-based CV
Useful when you are making a career change to a different job type or industry. This type of CV emphasises your skills and abilities rather than your recent employment history. You might consider using a functional CV if:
- you want to change to a new area of work and show your relevant transferable skills and experience
- you've got gaps in your employment history
- you've had a lot of jobs and you want to describe the experience you've got as a whole
- you want to highlight skills you've gained in previous jobs but that you don't use in your current or most recent job
Switch the order of your CV content so ‘Achievements’ comes ahead of ‘Key Skills’ and ‘Career History’.
When writing a Functional or Skills CV, you can provide details of the functions or skills that you’ve performed, depending on which fits best with your experience and goals:
- Campaign Management
- Direct Marketing
- Market Research
CV Content and Order
- Name and Contact Details
- Key Skills/ Achievements
- Career History
- Qualifications & Professional Development
- Your hobbies
Name and contact details
Keep it brief with name, email and phone number. You don’t need to include other personal details like:
- nationality, unless you will need a UK work permit
- marital status
- details of children
- your health status
Your opening paragraph should aim to summarise your key selling points. Think, ‘if I were a brand, how would I sell myself?’ This needs to be hard hitting and rather than being a personal objective, should aim to give the reader an overview of your key strengths.
It should be written with your goal/next job in mind
It should state who and what you are i.e. how do I describe myself
It should indicate your breadth/length of experience
It can include 2/3 key skills/strengths
It should state your USP
It may state your next move/objective
Key skills and achievements
Whether you’re using a chronological or function/skills based CV format, you should detail your achievements under each heading.
Think back through your work history and identify work that produced especially good results. You can use the following STARS guidelines to write up these achievements:
S First describe the Situation you were in
T Describe the Task that was involved
A Next describe the Action you took (be certain to say ‘I’ not ‘we’ when explaining this – interviewers want to know what YOU did, not the wider team)
R Then explain what the Result was
S Describe the Skills you used in your achievements
Examples of work achievements
Think of a time when you saved or made money for your company or client
Did you save time or increase efficiency?
Have you organised, planned or implemented an event or project?
Have you made improvements to a process or project? Are you creative, innovative and good at coming up with new ideas?
Do you work well with others? Where have you exhibited this?
Are you good at winning, retaining and managing clients? How have you managed tricky situations or difficult clients?
How good are your communication skills? Have you presented in public?
Do you write reports? Where do you use your writing skills?
Think of a time when you were called on to be adaptable in handling new or different situations
Have you mentored team members or others in or outside the organisation?
- Does each achievement begin with an action word or phrase?
- Is the language you have used concise, specific and professional?
- Have you highlighted the results of your actions clearly?
- Is each of your skills illustrated with at least one solid achievement or result?
- Have you chosen skills that relate to your job objective?
Action words to describe your achievements and pep up your CV:
Qualifications & professional development
Detailing your GCSEs really isn’t necessary – a quick summary of number and grades will suffice. You don’t need to mention your individual University modules either unless they are of real importance to a role. Make sure you don’t forget your professional qualifications such as the ISP, IDM, CIM, etc and any other courses you may have attended such as Presentation or Negotiation skills, and IT knowledge.
Be careful that this part of your CV isn’t longer than some of your previous roles! This is usually used as an ice breaker in an interview so do put something you are passionate about here, which brings your personality to life.
A word about creativity
Although you may have a creative background, this creativity does not have to be portrayed visually on your CV. The old rule of keeping it simple and sticking to a clean and consistent format will work best. The CV needs to look and sound professional otherwise it may not be taken seriously. It’s also likely that recruitment agencies will be using automatic CV scanning technology, for which simplicity is key.