How to Write an Effective CV – 5 Steps From the Experts
September 7, 2016 | Justine Goulart
This guest post was written by Keenan Manning, a Project Associate at the English Language Centre of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Keenan is part of the team in the upcoming English at Work in Asia: Job Applications, CVs and Cover Letters, and English at Work in Asia: Preparing for a Job Interview on edX, starting as self-paced on 12 September 2016.
You’ve seen an advertisement for your dream job. You want to send in your CV. But, you’ve got an old CV that you updated two years ago. What are you going to do?
Follow these 5 steps so that your CV is the LAST one employers need to read, and you’re the FIRST person they want to call!
Step 1: Make an impression within 30 seconds
Robert Williams, a recruitment expert with decades of experience, tells us that a CV has a “30 second eyeball time.” To make a big impression in a small amount of time, consider the following questions:
- Do you want to use an unconventional layout that will make your CV more eye-catching?
- Or are you applying to a more traditional company where a modern looking CV might be frowned upon?
- Would it be more effective to reduce the number of items on your CV to make the most important points stand out clearly?
- How can you rearrange the items so that the most important parts are easily seen by the reader?
Step 2: Present yourself as a problem-solver
Remember, each and every job interview is actually a problem for the company. They have a need which they are looking for someone to fill. The details of this need are in the job advertisement, so study it and try to understand the company’s problem. Next, try to figure out how you should position yourself to make it clear that you would be a good solution to their problem.
For example, you see an advertisement for a sales position in a retail company.
- First problem: the company has a quantity of merchandise which it needs to sell
- Second problem: potential customers might not want to buy this merchandise
How would you be able to solve these problems for the company? How could you write your CV so that these solutions are clear and obvious to someone glancing at your CV?
Step 3: Highlight key information
This is where you link Step 1 and 2. You need to make sure that the key information is as noticeable as possible. What specific skills, experiences and capabilities do you think are going to be most appealing to people reading your CV? Take this information and draw attention to it. This could be by:
- separating it out from blocks of text so that it stands out
- putting it in bold
- putting it in the top section
Whatever you do, make sure that the reader won’t miss it!
Step 4: Research the company
No two companies are the same. Your CV should reflect this. You should make sure that your CV reflects the type of company that you are applying for. If you are applying for a position that is more conservative, such as an accountant, have a clean, straightforward CV with the most relevant information clearly laid out. If the position is more creative, such as a designer, have a CV that clearly reflects your own creative personality.
Include information about:
- the company’s current projects
- what attracted you to that company
- what relevant experience you’ve had in similar companies, environments, or roles
Doing this will show that you understand the position, the company and their needs.
Step 5 – Prepare a new CV for each job
Finally, don’t create a generic CV and then send it out to every job. Just like you want to stand out from the other candidates, companies want to see that you’ve taken the time to get to know the position you’re applying for and given your application some thought. Include language which relates specifically to the job description; perhaps include some industry buzz words. Remember, adapt the language to fit the position and the company for each application.
Following these steps will ensure that your CV makes a lasting impression on potential employers.
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