Because the road to your dream job starts with a solid CV.
Sitting down to summarise your life’s work on one (maybe two) sheets of paper is no easy task. Whether you’ve been working for 10 months or 10 years, finding the right format and making its content compelling enough to read is a challenge. So where do you start? The good news is that now, more than ever, there are tons of online resources to help transform your old CV into an eye-catching marketing masterpiece. However, before you get too overwhelmed with information overload, we first recommend checking out these top tips straight from an expert on how to write a CV. You’ll be on the way to your dream job in no time!
Read more: 5 Ways To Ace Your Interview
Find The Right Format
Gone are the days when your CV was merely a list of achievements. Now they function as dynamic marketing documents, with formats as unique as the people writing them. So how do you decide on which style is best for you?
The format of your CV should reflect your experience and industry. To begin, you need to decide whether you want a chronological format or functional (or both!). For example, a student looking for their first job would likely use a chronological format that focuses on education first, then technical skills and volunteer experience. A senior executive may choose a combination starting with a summary statement, a list of expertise and skills, followed by work experience with detailed bullets and supporting examples, and finally education.
Once you decide how to lay out the content, you will need to pick the overall “look”. While there are many format options, it’s important to stick with something that is easy to follow and read. Get started by checking out the free templates available through Microsoft and Google Docs. If you need more help, there are plenty of online CV builders such as Novo Resume, in addition to free design programmes like Canva.
Think of the hiring manager sifting through 100+ CVs for one position. How will you stand out? A strong summary statement is essential to differentiating yourself from the crowd. This short paragraph should be a five to eight line summary of your core strengths. Outline the experience that is most relevant to the role, and highlight the skills you will bring to the position. This is your opportunity to demonstrate how you will add value to the company. Use action words and adjectives to demonstrate achievements as well as your enthusiasm for the role. But remember to avoid using overdone vague clichés, including “hardworking team player” and “multi-tasker”.
Be Clear And Concise
According to a study by Microsoft, the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds. As such, it’s essential to engage your audience immediately. Think of the CV as your most important marketing piece. It should be engaging, but most importantly, it should be clear and concise. Format-wise, use clear headings throughout, and make sure to include your most important skills and experiences “above the fold” (i.e. in the top third of your CV). When expanding on your work experience, use concise bullet points and refrain from including unnecessary personal information. Finally, it’s best practice to keep your CV to one to two pages. This will also push you to focus on the most relevant details of your career.
Show Your Stuff
You now have a killer summary statement. Great stuff. So what’s next? The meat and potatoes of your CV is, of course, your experience. For most candidates with five plus years of experience, a reverse chronological timeline detailing prior roles and highlighting key achievements is the best way to create a clear picture of your past work experience. List prior companies you’ve worked for and include a brief description of the company if it’s not already apparent from the name. Under each job, include the title of the position and supporting bullets detailing your responsibilities and achievements. Use quantifiable metrics to show your contributions (e.g. “led the marketing effort and implemented a new sales strategy resulting in a 25% year over year increase of revenue”). Presenting numbers to back up your achievements is an easy way for a hiring manager to see how effective you were in your previous roles.
If you’ve had a career break say so. But supplement that break with other projects you may have worked on in the interim, such as volunteer roles, school involvement, entrepreneurial endeavours and/or board participation. Highlight new skills you may have developed to reiterate why your background is a perfect fit for the job.
One Size Does Not Fit All
It may be tempting to blanket the earth with your CV and hope that someone takes notice. Unfortunately, the likely result is that you will have spent a lot of time sending emails but have nothing to show for it. Instead, tailor your CV to the role that you are applying for. Consider what skills are required for that particular position, and think about the responsibilities the role will entail. The job description will give you the clues as to what the employer is looking for. Use this! Include key words picked from this description to optimise your CV and get past initial screens done by applicant tracking systems. Online resources such as Jobscan can help with this. Emphasise examples of your work experience that are specifically relevant to the position, and eliminate information that may be distracting. Customising your CV will greatly improve your chances of landing an interview.
After going through all the work to put your best foot forward, you do not want to get taken out of the process for a spelling error. It may sound ridiculous, but hiring managers are much less likely to consider a CV that has a sloppy mistake. Use spellcheck, and ask friends and family to review before sending it out. An extra set of eyes does wonders for catching any errors!
Read more: Your Guide To Getting A Job In Hong Kong