Here is a short guide to help you write a CV that will have the most impact. A CV (short for the Latin phrase curriculum vitae, which means “course of life”) is a detailed document highlighting your professional and academic history. Or in plain English, it should tell a short story of you and your work life.
1. Brevity – There are 100’s of different opinions out there about CV’s but the most consistent one is brevity. The golden rule, in my opinion, is keep it to two pages. Let’s be clear about this, the sole purpose of the CV is to get you the interview, nothing else. The CV should ‘tease’ the recruiter or the hiring manager so that they really want to meet you. The temptation is to cram in every aspect of every job you have had, trust me, people do not read that level of detail!
2. Initial summary – A small paragraph at the top outlining in 2/3 sentences what you are and where you plan on going. Sounds simple but it is vital to sum that up correctly. You might know what you do but it is not always so clear to the reader. Avoid corporate buzz words, keep it real!
3. Optics – Recruiters and hiring manager see dozens of CV’s every day, make yours easy on the eye and stand out from the pile:
a. Hyperlink your LinkedIn profile and email address
b. Use a modern font and have good spacing
c. Splash of colour. Put in a small design icon, maybe top right, it will catch the eye
d. No need for months and years in your older roles, just years
e. Photo – mixed thoughts here, crucial on LinkedIn, but not needed on the CV
4. Digital Footprint – It will come as no surprise to you that recruiters look at more than just your LinkedIn profile. We all post to multiple digital platforms so if you have some good online pieces about you, including video clips e.g. speaking at an event, hyperlink 2/3 of them.
5. Layout – Most recruiters will copy and paste the main 80% of your CV into their own template and add in other sections about you, including a scoring grid and a couple of paragraphs of their thoughts about you. CV’s that have been designed by a graphic designer look great but are a nightmare to copy and the rendering always goes out the window. Regards design, less is more. As I mentioned above, modern font, small colour icon and that is all you need.
6. Get help – Ask a friendly recruiter or a Manager in business to look at your CV. They will see you through a different lens that you see your self.
7. Tailor the CV – If the job description mentions certain things and you have them, highlight them in the CV. Most job specs will emphasis 3/4 requirements so bring these to the front.
8. Education – Different opinions here. I think they are best at the bottom of page two.
9. People – In most jobs, even technical ones, how we interact with people is vital. If you have an inroad to a business community in Ireland, say so.
10. Be honest – Very few candidates tick every box for a client. Your personality and character will get you the job and more than compensate for some skill set omissions.