Perhaps you’ve been firing off the same CV to HR managers for months without getting any interview offers. Or maybe you’ve been with the same firm for the last ten years and your resume needs a good old overhaul. Whatever your situation, it’s important that your CV contains the following five elements as a bare minimum.
Contact information. This may sound silly, but it’s surprising how many CVs are sent without sufficient contact information. You should include your name (yes, there have been cases where the name has been missed off!) along with your address, email address and phone number. Make sure these are up-to-date and that they don’t make you look unprofessional. If your email address is inappropriate or the voicemail greeting on your mobile is cheeky or outright rude, make these changes before you send your resume off to prospective employers in case they get in touch.
A career summary. The aim is to pack a punch right from the off. In a few short sentences you need to wow the hiring manager with your career highlights. It should be obvious from this opening paragraph that you are the best choice for the role given your achievements and accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to really sell yourself and make bold statements. If they like what they see they will most likely read on. If not, your CV may end up in the bin.
Use the right key words. Identify the key words and phrases from the job description and use these strategically in your CV. Don’t just copy them out; list your skills and experience and give examples of where you have proven them. Using keywords is particularly important for online applications, which may be pre-screened by special software, but all applications should give the prospective employer the opportunity to tick all the right boxes as they read through your resume.
Details about any special acknowledgements. Maybe you’ve been employee of the month consistently over the last year or have an industry award that sets you apart. Or perhaps you received specialist training or have made a tangible difference at your firm that will impress hiring managers. These may just give you the edge over another candidate with similar skills and experience.
A bit about you. No one needs to know what happened at the last office party or your favourite colour, but you should provide a few details about your personal life that will support your application. Perhaps you raise money for a particular charity by running marathons or taught yourself to play the guitar and are now heading up a band. Maybe you volunteer at your church youth group or help coach a local sports team. Whatever you include, make sure it demonstrates the skills your employer is looking for, for example team management or financial expertise.
One other point to remember is that your CV should be specifically tailored to the job in hand. It’s fine to have a generic template to work from, but alter it for each application so that you have the best possible chance of securing an interview at your preferred place of employment.
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Joy Tibbs is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to Premier. Find out more at joyofediting.co.uk and find her on Twitter @joyous25