The detail in your CV will make or break your chances to being called for a job interview – remember it is your selling tool.
Before putting pen to paper, think about the purpose of your CV:
1. Highlighting successful achievements
2. Describing your most important experiences to an employer
3. Showing an employer why they should employ you
4. Ultimately, to obtain you a job interview.
Everything on your CV must fulfil these requirements!
However, much of the content of your CV will be fairly self-explanatory – personal details, professional qualifications, education, computer systems/ training courses. Therefore the two areas of content that you can influence to most impact your job opportunities are your personal statement and the bullet points in each job of your employment history.
- This should be, at most, 8 lines selling yourself as a ‘package’ – achievements, experiences, competencies, personality traits and ambitions.
- Use the first 2-3 lines to describe some of the key skills/ achievements so far in your career that illustrate you best. This can include a qualification and your job title if you feel these describe you accurately.
- The next 2-3 lines should describe the areas of strength in your personality illustrating how these help to be successful in your level of work.
- Finally a concluding statement outlining the aim of your career move. This can be used as a short term message to target this job move (and the job you are applying to) or it can show a longer term career goal – but ensure this job move fits the career path needed to obtain that outcome.
There is a huge difference in the eyes of an employer when reading a CV containing just duties and responsibilities compared to a CV also containing actions and achievements.
- Duties and responsibilities are often seen as a list that has been copied from a job description and pasted into a CV – bland, dull and not a good differentiator.
- Actions and achievements are seen as positive, ‘make a difference’ impacts on a business.
- Use words that show your involvement and actions when writing your duties and responsibilities – managed, produced, reduced etc. This illustrates you were ‘doing’ your job and provides a much more energetic feel to the CV
- Outline the outcome of your actions to show the impact you had on the business,
e.g. Implemented a new process that resulted in the reduction of a monthly deadline by 24 hrs.
- Split each job into two sections – headed with ‘Duties and Responsibilities’ and ‘Achievements’. Bullet point every duty using action verbs and statements. The final outcomes of these duties would be your achievements.
- When creating the duties section of your CV, list as many duties as possible no matter how trivial you may think the points are. This is often easier to do over a period of time rather than at one sitting. With your current role, you can write a list as you do each duty over the course of a month. It is easier to have a long list to trim down than too short a list that needs expanding.
- In the second section, ‘achievements’, outline 4-5 key achievements during your tenure in the role. These will ideally be large projects, significant new skills or changes that you have been heavily involved with or gained significant experience from. Interviews will often focus on this area of your experience so know these thoroughly and do not exaggerate – see interview guidance for further information on this.
Take your time when creating the content for your CV as it is the most influential element in obtaining you job interviews. Now your content is right, optimise your chances of getting an interview.