CV / Resume
How To Write A Job Winning Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Should you look for a CV template?
- Is it the right CV template?
- What do I need to include when CV writing?
- What should I exclude?
These are all good questions…questions we will cover in this article and in the Resume Layout Do’s and Don’ts article.
What’s the purpose of a CV?
Let’s start from the beginning and consider the actual purpose of a CV.
The job selector, recruitment agency or person who has advertised the role, will base their whole perception and judgment of your skills and ability to do the job based on the information presented in your CV. You usually only have one shot at making them interested in hearing more about you. In addition, they will have a large number of applicant CV’s to go through – so you need to make an impact in a short amount of time. How do you do this?
How to make a good impression quickly
To make a good impression quickly, you really need to make sure that you meet the capabilities or criteria that the person advertising the job is looking for. Get a copy of the job advertisement, job description or other material that has been posted about the job. If there isn’t much material available, phone the contact person and ask questions about the job.
Make sure you address what it is they are looking for both in your CV AND in your cover letter.
There will be competencies or skills identified in the documentation such as:
- Written Communication
- Oral Communication
- Customer Service
- Problem Solving
- Team Player
- Computer Programs
- Professional skills like: medical, architect, engineer etc
You get the idea.
How to write a CV
Once you’ve identified the skills they want for the job, you also need to identify the skills that you actually have. Here is a Transferable CV Skills checklist that will assist you when thinking about the skills that you have. This list is not exhaustive, and you may come up with other skills (or more specialist or professional skills) that you have.
Once you have identified all of the skills that you have, you need to think about where you obtained each skill, which job or situation it was in, what your role was and what you did to get those skills. You will also need to think about how you exhibited these skills and a good outcome of you using those skills. You may find the My CV Writing Skills Checklist useful for this.
If you’re looking at customer service skills you might write:
“I obtained customer service skills while working at McDonald’s. My role was service on front counter. When I started my role, I undertook training on the process for serving a customer, what I needed to say to them, the script that I had to follow and then I put this into practice.
A specific example of where I demonstrated great customer service skills was when I had a customer who was confused about the menu and had ordered multiple individual items, but if packaged together would be cheaper for them. I suggested that they slightly alter their order, still getting the same items, but for a cheaper price. They accepted and thanked me for my suggestion.”
You might be thinking “Gosh, this is so time consuming!”.
Yes, it is, but, you will only need to do it once, and once you have identified all of the skills that you have and have an example for each, it will not only help you with your CV Writing, getting an job interview appointment, but also with answering the job interview questions. You will only need update your CV as you acquire additional skills throughout your working life.
You might find that you have found the perfect job to apply for, but you don’t actually have all of the skills that they have asked for in the job description. Does this mean that you shouldn’t apply for the job? Absolutely not.
(Ok, if it’s a specialist role like a health professional and they have a mandatory skill like: Nursing Qualifications, and you don’t have this, then yes, that means that you shouldn’t apply for that job.)
What you will need to do is demonstrate how you have obtained similar skills in the past and been able to quickly come up to speed and apply them.
Here is an example:
The job description says “Ability to use the xyz accounting software package to undertake tasks including: raising invoices, maintaining debtors ledger, managing General Journal entries and end of month reconciliation reports”.
However, you have only used the abc accounting software package to do those tasks and not the xyz package.
You might say:
“I have used the abc accounting software package in my role as Accounting Officer with 123 City Council. In this role, I raised invoices, maintained the debtors ledger, managed General Journal entries and reconciled the accounts at the end of the month. I learnt this package and quickly came up to speed using online training, a face-to-face course, asking colleagues and taking my own notes. I learn new software packages quickly and easily, and in addition, I have a very good understanding of accounting practices and procedures. I am sure that I would be able to quickly learn the xyz accounting software package to undertake the tasks required”.
Once you have all of your skills and competencies listed, it’s finally time to actually write your CV!
The key to good CV writing is taking into consideration the field or environment of the position you’re applying for, the skills and abilities required of the job, and your own skills and presenting yourself as the best applicant for the role.
There are a number of ways of presenting your Curriculum Vitae, and there are some template ideas attached for your use. Basically, the headings that you want to include are:
- Personal Information: Address; Contact Number; Email; Major Interests; and Career Goals
- Education – do this in reverse chronological order i.e. most recent first – only include formal education here
- Training, Accreditation and Short Courses – you only need to list these courses unless you really want to highlight something you’ve learnt that is relevant to the job you are applying for – make sure you include the name of the course, who provided it and the year that you undertook it. You may also want to split up business courses from personal courses undertaken.
- Career History – again, use reverse chronological order here. Include:
- name of the organization
- title of the role you undertook
- time that you were in the role e.g. July 2013 to present or July 2012 to February 2014
- duties or activities you undertook while in the role (use the document My CV Writing Skills Checklist that was recommended earlier) and
- major achievements in this role – this is taken from the outcomes or results column of the My CV Writing Skills Checklist.
If you’re applying for a role in a creative field like marketing, performance, graphic designer or artist then it will be a good idea to inject a little of your skills into your application. If it’s a marketing role, then consider yourself the product, and work it baby!
If it’s a graphic designer role, include samples of what you’ve designed before. Again, present yourself as the product and pitch yourself as such. If it’s an artistic role, then use your skills in your application i.e. use graphics, coloured paper, samples of your work as the background etc.
Be aware that if your application is going to a panel or a job agency, they will more than likely copy your application, take off all the binders, folders and pretty additions, and just staple in the corner on white pages. So if the job you are applying for does not require artistic or creative flair that you need to demonstrate, then you are better off just submitting your application either electronically, or on plain white paper with a staple in the top left hand corner. Make sure you read the submission requirements about number of copies and format required and make sure you have it submitted by the due date. If you can’t get your application in by the due date, make sure you ask for an extension, otherwise your application may not even be considered.
Spelling and grammatical mistakes are never ok in a Curriculum Vitae, but they are even worse when you’ve stated that you have a high level of written communication skills or are applying for a job where a requirement is attention to detail. The bottom line is proof read, proof read, proof read, and then ask someone else to proof read for you. If you don’t have anyone to proof read it for you, you can always go to www.fiverr.com and for $5, get a proofreader to check it for you.
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