If you’re applying for a range of jobs, don’t expect that a ‘one size fits all’ CV will produce a positive result in every case. If you’re targeting a specific job, then your CV should concentrate on the experiences and achievements that are most relevant to that position and make sure that they are emphasised to the full.
You will hear some insist on no more than 2 pages. Not so. Provided you have the first page right, then you can stretch to 3 pages, but this should be the maximum.
The front page is critical and should contain your full contact details, profile, expertise list and achievements. There’s no need to put Curriculum Vitae at the top! Your profile should be written in the third person and be no more than 5 or 6 lines long. It
should target the position you are seeking and use words or phrases that appear in the vacancy. Use bold letters to emphasise the position. Your expertise list should be a series of about 10 bullet points, laid out as such, that reflect the abilities and experience that you have that is relevant to the job and should contain both technical and personal skills. Achievements are the final and most crucial element of your CV’s front page. How have you translated your skills and experience into results for previous employers? Future employers want to know what they can expect for their money if they give you the job so show them! Once again, these achievements should be relevant and listed as bullet points.
If your employment history is less than ten years, this is the point at which you should list your academic qualifications and education history. For those with over ten years work experience, page 2 of your CV should list your work history in reverse chronological order, concentrating particularly on those positions you have held in the last five years. Give details of roles, responsibilities, promotions and other achievements not highlighted on page 1. This again can be done in the form of bullet points. Anything older than that, unless it has specific bearing upon the job you are seeking, should be dealt with by stating dates, company name and position held. However long you’ve been working, always explain any gaps in the timeline of your career and keep the dates as accurate as possible.
After your work history, pay special attention to any professional qualifications, training and development you may have completed and give prominence to those that have a specific bearing upon the position you’re applying for.
Now you can list your hobbies and interests, including any voluntary or charity work you may be involved in. Employers do want to know that you have a life outside of work but don’t waste all the effort you’ve put in on the first pages by reeling off mundane social activities.
There’s no need to name referees but you can say that their details are available; most employers are only interested in you, the applicant, at this stage.
There’s no need to include reasons for leaving previous jobs. Not all may be positive and the last thing a CV should do is put doubt into an employer’s mind. Likewise, you needn’t attach copies of certificates or references – they may make your CV appear too long at the sifting stage.
Avoid non-essential personal details such as health, height, weight, number of children and their ages, religious or political beliefs and steer clear of humour, however well-intentioned, as it rarely reads the way it’s meant!