In most cases, your CV will be the first impression you make on a potential employer. As such, it is worth spending the time to ensure that your CV properly and clearly highlights your skills and experience, as well as avoiding common errors which can adversely impact your chances of securing an interview. Here are some simple steps you can follow to create an effective CV:
Step 1 - Think like an employer
The first and most important step is to consider the perspective of the potential employer who will be reading your CV. Your aim is not to create a work of art or a literary opus, but to ensure that the CV is clear, concise and effective. You have a limited amount of time to capture a decision maker's attention and should therefore endeavour to keep your CV as short and focused as possible. We would suggest one or two pages; three as a maximum. It is advisable to include a brief summary section early in your CV that clearly presents your key skills and achievements to an employer.
Step 2 - Remember the essentials
There are certain categories of information that are essential to include on your CV: education, qualifications, training and employment history are the obvious categories. However, it is surprising how many people fail to provide detailed contact information on their CVs. Make sure that you provide a permanent email address.
In this region it is common for CVs to include a photo and this is largely a matter of personal preference. If you do decide to include a photo, it should be highly professional in appearance. Again, always consider the reaction of a potential employer.
Step 3 - Keep it simple
It can be very tempting with Microsoft Word to indulge in extravagant experimentation with your font and formatting. We would strongly advise against such innovations as Word Art and Sparkle Text on your CV. Try to avoid using tables and use bold, italic and underlined type sparingly and for key emphasis only. Brightly coloured text is not recommended on a CV, nor is utilising too many different fonts.
Step 4 - Remember your key words
Key words are important for two reasons: firstly, an employer will often look for certain terms on a CV; secondly, CVs are increasingly found using key word searches on databases. What constitutes a key word will vary according to your industry specialisation and job role. For example, if you are a finance professional with knowledge and experience of GAAP and SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley), these are key words that should be included in your CV. Try to consider how your CV might be found using key words.
Step 5 - Check and double check
Spelling and grammatical errors in your CV can have a very negative impact on potential employers. As well as running a spell check using your word processor, have a friend or relative proof read your CV for you. A fresh pair of eyes will often identify mistakes that you have missed. Finally, print your CV and go back to step 1: review your CV as if you were a potential employer to ensure that it is an effective marketing tool.