I get it, it’s really hard to know what a good CV looks like. The internet is full of example resumes that are all different styles with different ordering and inconsistent content.
Should my education go first or last? Do I include a summary? Should I put every job I’ve ever had?
Your CV is the first impression a company will get of you. First impressions are everything, so it’s important to get your document perfect. Fortunately, it’s really easy to fix for most people, but advancing your CV from ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ is the key to stand out from the crowd.
So, what makes a good CV?
We’ll let you in on a little secret, the ordering of your CV won’t affect your hiring chances, BUT it is worthwhile building it in a clear, organized format that shows off your best abilities.
Follow these guidelines and we’ll get your resume in top shape:
Your cv should be up to 3 pages long.
With a maximum of 5 pages.
Being able to communicate concisely is important and this is your first opportunity to demonstrate you can do that. Promote your most relevant and recent positions, skills, and attributes.
Hiring Managers have a lack of time or inclination to read through a 17-page booklet outlining your illustrious career, save that information for the interview process.
We would advise that you list positions in your career up to the last 10 years or the last 5 roles you’ve been in, whichever is smaller.
Anything after that should be listed as company, title, and position only. Any highly relevant positions that fall outside of the 10 years/5 roles timeline, can be highlighted in your cover note.
Introduce yourself with a summary
Put a summary paragraph at the top of your CV. Talk about who you are and what you’re all about in terms of skills and character. It should only be 3 or 4 sentences, but by the end of it the reader should know how much experience you have, what your specialties are and what you’re passionate about.
Try not to cram it full of buzzwords; anything you say here should be backed up with concrete examples in your employment history.
Education and Qualifications
If you’re at the earlier stages of your career, put your education under your summary.
List the university or school name, course title and result. This can include your university degree (if you have one), diplomas, certifications, along with your final school results.
This should focus on what you produced and how you did it. Avoid talking about what the company does or the department. Focus on what tools and techniques you used and what your achievements were.
Start with a sentence or two describing your roll, then use a bullet point list for your achievements and main responsibilities. It makes it much easier to read and digest.
Other skills and extra-curricular activities
If you do anything outside of work, whether it be personal projects or anything that involves you doing things that relate to the role, then list it out.
Employers love people who are genuine and interested in the work they’re doing. This is a sure fire way to demonstrate that. If you haven’t got anything, then maybe now is the time to start!
Some quick tips to achieve the x factor:
Keep your desired role in mind and detail your cv around the job description
Make sure any of the requirements and desired skills for the role are clear on your CV. For instance, if you’re looking at a change in career, make sure to highlight all your transferrable skills relative to the role.
But what are your transferrable skills? You can check out more information about transferrable skills here
Avoid writing big chunks of texts or big lists of experience
The hiring manager won’t understand what you’re significantly skilled in. In your work experience make sure each section discusses the main things you were exposed to. This way the reader has context for your experience.
Don’t play buzzword bingo
“Passionate about driving innovative solutions from business interaction” – what does that even mean? Make sure everything you write about your attributes has got examples to back it up.
Don’t lie. Ever.
This is never a good idea and you will get found out. It puts you at risk of getting asked about it in the interview process and if you can’t provide sufficient experience or demonstrated ability, you’re going to look simply stupid.