Let’s be clear: applying for jobs is downright daunting. Normally, an applicant is asked to submit a CV and cover letter as their application, and that’s it. You have two documents, comprising roughly three pages combined, in which you must make a good impression and stand out. Simple! (Said no-one, ever). Fear not: help is at hand!
Here are some tips for creating a clean, well-put together CV. This is your shot; make it count!
Include all the basic information
This might seem obvious, but it can be easy to forget to add vital information to your CV! Your name and current contact information should be at the top, in a nice header. Below that, be sure to list your education background or qualifications, relevant work experience, interests, skills or any hobbies you have that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. If you’ve done something else that doesn’t fit one of those categories but is still relevant, include it! Anything that can boost your experience, interest or knowledge for a potential job should be on your CV. Are you applying for a job with headquarters Spain, and you studied abroad there in college? Add it to the CV!
Keep it clean, people!
You could have a great CV, with all the experience and proper qualifications, but if it looks bad, it won’t matter. Having a clean and easy to read format for your CV is key. Make sure the text is justified, your bullet points line up throughout the document and the spacing and font are consistent. These days, basic computer skills are a must for just about any job.
Your CV presents an opportunity for you to show your skills with basic programs, such as Microsoft Word. If you say you’re a pro at Microsoft Office, but the layout on your CV is a bit wonky, employers will think you are probably, um, lying. Also, if you’re a designer, for example, your CV is an extension of your portfolio, so add some personal style. On the same note, however, don’t get too fancy! Remember to keep it easy on the eyes!
Two pages, max!
Yes, I’m sure most of us would love to add every single work experience we’ve had, skill we possess, camping trip we’ve taken… you get the idea. To be honest though, most employers don’t care about all that. It’s best to keep your CV clear and concise, without rambling on too much. Two pages, max, are best. Anything longer than that and you might lose the attention of the person reading it. Or if there was a huge response to a job posting, your application might be thrown out without consideration if it’s too long. Employers are always looking for easy ways to cut down huge piles of applications, so don’t give them an excuse to push yours aside!
Keep it current
Keeping your CV up to date and current is just as important as the actual information and experience you have listed. What if you apply for a job with a CV you created a year ago, and forgot to add your most recent work experience? Employers will be wondering about the gap in your work history and what you’ve been doing for the past year. Or what if you change your email or phone number, but forget to update your contact information? You might actually be contacted for an interview, but never know! Be sure to add any new experiences, skills or contact information before applying for a position.
Tailor your CV for each position
Not every job you apply for will be the same. Yes, they may all be within the same field, but not every company is looking for the same qualities and skills from potential candidates. Be sure to tailor your CV to each specific job you apply for. One employer might appreciate your Spanish skills, but another company might prefer to learn about your experience with Adobe Photoshop. Take time to read a job posting and learn about a company so you can tweak your CV to make it more appealing to each position.
Fill in the blanks where you can
If you have any experience or work history that doesn’t fit into any of the main categories you have listed, write a short blurb about it. If you’ve spent the past year on a gap year traveling the world, say it! Write a short note at the top of your CV, explaining what you’ve been up to and what skills you acquired along the way. Your CV is your opportunity to grab an employer’s attention and help them learn more about you. If someone has more questions than answers after reading your CV, something is missing. Take the opportunity to fill in any blanks in your work history or personal life- if it’s relevant, of course.