A CV is a giant advert that should give a simple message: ‘I’m here, I’m good, and I’d love to speak to you’. It should convey the skills and experience that you’ve accumulated inside and out of the work environment, and the reasons that you want to move to the next level. Here, then, are ten things employers expect to see in a strong CV.
Good spelling and grammar
This should be obvious in such an important item, but unfortunately too many CVs are rife with poor spelling and weak construction of sentences. Equally damaging is a confusing or non-sequential layout – here are examples of how to create a good CV compared to a bad one.
A CV with holes will be viewed suspiciously. It doesn’t necessarily preclude you from further consideration, but why take the chance – odds are, you’ll be asked about it in the interview anyway. Even if you were unemployed for six months, don’t just leave a blank void in your timeline. Instead, list any freelance or part-time work, volunteering, travel or anything else that shows you didn’t just sit on your backside during that period.
The 2015/16 job applicant should know Google, online banking, and possess at least some knowledge of e-commerce. They may even have built their own website and be generating money from it – if so, knowledge of analytics, online marketing, and SEO are also welcome additions to the skillset. They might not be directly relevant to the job itself although sometimes they’re essential (click here to find out more) but they sure look good written on a piece of paper.
Social media presence
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube may come in for criticism, but millennial applicants who have no social media accounts might be regarded as curious or even anti-social. Include the details, and if you have 10,000 followers, create videos that are regularly viewed by huge numbers of people, and links to influential connections, then let employers know about it.
Being good at your job is one thing; enabling others to be good at theirs requires an entirely different mind set. The skills associated with being a good manager are numerous, but delegation, listening, man-management and authority are mandatory. Creativity and improvisation are also welcome skills.
Which sounds better: ‘I managed a team’ or ‘I managed a team of 50’? Which is more impressive: ‘Sales went up’ or ‘Sales went up by 20%’? Adding quantifiable data to statements gives them clarity and gravitas.
Don’t over-egg the pudding by going into great detail, but make sure that any relevant and interesting extra-curricular activities – such as anything performance-based, sporting, musical or technical – are included. Remember, managers want to know you as a human, not just an employee.
Your CV should convey enthusiasm and vibrancy, combined with confidence. You’re applying for the job because you believe you can do it to a high standard, so use strong language and good examples. ‘Can’ and ‘will’ are vastly preferable to ‘might’ and ‘should’. Make the employer-to-be believe in you, make them talk to you, and make them like you. Words can do it all if used well.