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Ford Peterson Blog

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Managing Your Job Search - CV Writing

April 16, 2015

 

I was very reluctant to write anything on CV writing because everyone has a slightly different view on what makes a good and bad CV, however we get asked about it on a daily basis so here goes.

 

Your CV is the first impression a potential employer has of your written communication and if you are applying directly to businesses will be the difference between whether said businesses decide to meet you or not.

 

Some things worth thinking about before you send your CV out to perspective businesses are:

 

  • Structure;

  • What to include;

  • Achievements;

  • Other considerations;

 

Structure

 

The structure of your CV will vary slightly depending on seniority and if you are applying for contract positions or permanent positions however as a guide it would be:

 

First page

 

  • Contact Information;

  • Education;

  • Employment Summary (if more than 5 years as a very loose rule);

  • Employment History (Most Recent Position);

 

Second page onwards

 

  • Employment History (Second most recent, onwards):

  • Systems/Software Experience;

  • Interests;

  • References;

 

The reason you want to include Education, Employment Summary and Most Recent Position on the first page is that they are all, for the most part, essential criteria for a given role.

 

Making this information as easily accessible as possible acts as a “hook” and makes the reader want to continue reading, especially if there are 100+ applications to get through.

 

What To Include

 

Contact Information

 

  • Pretty straight forward but just in case, Name, Address (Suburb is fine), Email, Phone Number

 

Education

 

  • Start/End date, if part completed include expected completion;

  • Institution and qualification;

  • Awards, i.e. merit awards for professional qualifications or if you received a distinction average or higher at university include that. If you decide to use GPA’s or performance rating it’s important to qualify what it means i.e. GPA of 3.5 out of 4;

  • Only include education relevant to a position, i.e. if you are applying for an accounting position completing Suzuki Level 6 Piano probably won’t be a deciding factor so save that gem for interests;

 

Employment Summary

 

If you decide to include an employment summary its worth including the following:

 

  • Dates of employment

  • Business you were working for;

  • Title of position;

 

Employment History

 

Generally speaking your most recent role will be the most relevant so people are going to want to see the most amount of detail on that.

 

Your second most recent position onwards should include progressively less detail.

 

Information you should include:

 

  • Dates of employment;

  • Name of business;

  • Two sentence summary on business;

  • Title of position;

  • Day to Day responsibilities;

  • Achievements;

 

If you are working in a consulting role it is also a good idea to include some information on:

 

  • The size and types of businesses you have been consulting to;

 

If systems are an especially important part of your role it is worth considering including which system you used under each role, otherwise just list them all under “Systems/Software Experience”.

 

If you have had more than one role in the same business set it out as:

 

  • Dates of entire employment with business

  • Name of business;

  • Two sentence summary on business;

  • Dates of employment in current (most recent) role;

  • Title of position;

  • Day to Day responsibilities;

  • Achievements;

  • Dates of employment in second most recent role;

  • Day to Day responsibilities;

  • Achievements;

 

And so on.

 

Systems/Software Experience

 

  • Pretty self-explanatory, however just in case, include all systems that you have professional proficiency in.

 

Interests

 

  • Use your discretion here, however as a general rule keep it short and sweet.

 

References

 

I’ve never heard of someone being refused an interview because they didn’t include the contact details of all their references on their CV, I have heard of people refusing to continue being a referee after receiving calls from multiple people at the preliminary stages of multiple recruitment processes.

 

With that in mind:

 

  • Unless they are asked for specifically, and even then I would be very reluctant, don’t include contact details of your references. Simply put “available upon request”.

 

By doing this you are able to keep control over who is called, by whom and when.

 

Achievements

 

Achievements should be quantifiable, relevant and be something that separates you from other applicants.

 

An acid test for if you should include an achievement or not is STAR:

 

  • Situation

  • Task

  • Action

  • Result

 

If you have difficulty putting in to words the different stages of an achievement then it is not worth including.

 

Other Considerations

 

  • Remember to consider who it is that is going to be reading your CV, if you are applying for accounting jobs chances are the person reading it is going to be most interested in your written communication not how many graphics and borders you have;

  • When it comes to CV’s there are no hard and fast rules so make sure you look at 2 or 3 examples and make up your mind on what you think works best for you and your profession;

  • Grammar matters, like writing an essay avoid referring to yourself in the first person where possible;

  • Ask a friend to proof read it before sending it out;

 

In addition to helping you leave an excellent first impression on a future employer, taking the time to set your CV out clearly, review several examples and critical analyse which achievements to include, really does force you to think about the most important elements of each role and why, which is excellent preparation for when you do secure an interview.

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