Tips for CV Preparation

21 March 2012

Looking for a job is not an easy job. Networking with the relevant people in the industry you are interested in and interviewing are crucial parts of the process, but your CV is often the first document your potential employer sees. It’s your business card. Your resume is much more than a summary of your work experience; a compelling CV is a great advertising tool and might very well be the different between an interview call and a rejection letter.

My recruitment experience in different industries has taught me to quickly recognize the relevant CVs. Although there is no formula you can adopt to create a CV that will guarantee your dream job, there are certain steps you can follow to make your application stand out.

First, you need to decide on the format and length of your CV. It’s very important to include all the relevant professional and education information and to arrange it in understandable and easy-to-read manner. It’s also vital to check and double check it for errors – the resumes with spelling or grammar mistakes are the first to get rejected.

The Format: Chronological or Functional

The two main approaches to CV arrangement are chronological and functional. Each has its advantages and the format which you choose should be based on your professional experience and the type of work you aim at.

The chronologically arranged CVs are ideal for people with solid lengthy experience in a particular field who are looking for a job in the same area. This type of resume starts with a brief description of the target position and chronologically arranged work experience, latest job listed first.

The functionally arranged CVs provides you with a certain degree of flexibility – you can zoom in on the relevant experience and education, depending on your chosen professional field. It is suitable for recent graduates and for people going through a career shift.

The Length: One or Two Pages – that is the question

When it comes to how long should your resume be – there is no definite answer, but the usual rule of thumb is – not longer than two pages. The length of your CV is directly proportional to the length of your professional experience. I would provide a few basic guidelines, which will ensure your CV is of the appropriate length.

1. If you are a recent graduate or would like to change your first jobs or are in the middle of a career shift, your CV should not be longer than a page.

2. If you have 10+ years of experience in the field you are applying for, it’s appropriate to prepare a resume that is approximately 2 pages long. Describe the relevant projects you participated in and your responsibilities in them. Avoid the non-relevant positions, description of seminars you attended 7 years ago, or your university curriculum.

3. If you have 20+ years’ experience in different fields, several publications, and a lengthy list of volunteer projects, you can consider a CV that is longer than 2 pages. Usually, though, the relevant material can be provided as attachments and enclosures.

Regardless or the format and length of your resume, consider the following important

Content guidelines:

Define a clear professional goal – it will be much easier, both for you and for your potential employer, to assess whether you are suitable for a particular position, if you have a clearly defined goal. Be specific in your goal setting process, but be careful to not narrow the focus too much: I would like to run the accounting for an international telecommunications company, is rather limiting.

Be clear and concise describe your experience and education with the main purpose of your resume in mind – to best position you for the job you want. Include only information relevant for the position you are applying for. An accounting internship has no place in a resume targeted at a project management function.

Be structured and organized – your resume should be easy to scan and easy to read: the recruiters usually spent not more than 30 seconds screening. Use keywords, different fonts, and sizes. Include the most important information in the middle of the first page and present it in a memorable way.

Advertise; do not exaggerate – one of the main criteria that distinguish the interview invites from the rejection letters are the exaggerations. Be honest, present yourself in the best possible light, but don’t embellish too much.

Focus, focus, focus – read carefully the position requirements and focus on the relevant projects and skills. The potential employers don’t need to see an exhaustive list of your responsibilities, they are interested in what’s relevant to them.

The additional sections – along with your working experience, be sure to include any other skills, courses, certifications, awards, publications relevant to the recruitment process.

If you think that all of these tips are good on paper, but the hard part will be when you begin implementing them, get in touch with me. We will discuss your needs, decide on your focus together and I will create you a tailored professional CV.

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