Your CV is the most important tool you have to sell yourself in the job market. Take the time to get it right by following these few simple steps.
Think about the recruitment manager!
Sitting at a desk, confronted with over 100 CV applications is not every recruitment managers idea of heaven! So put yourself in their position when you’re writing your’s – for it to put a smile on their face, it needs to be concise, clear, tailored to the job, and positive! It is unlikely that CV’s longer than 3 pages will receive the employers full attention – they’re often going to be making decisions in a very time-limited environment – so learn to sell yourself with relevant and focussed “snap-shots” of what you’ve got to offer!
Personal Statement – this is usually placed at the top of your CV – just under your name and contact details. It gives the prospective employer a “pen portrait” of what you have to offer and perhaps underlines why you are interested in applying for this particular job. This can be particularly important if you’re considering a change of role or work environment – the employer will want to understand what the reasoning is for your change of direction.
Key Skills – research has shown that when an employer first scans down the front page of a CV, their eyes usually fall onto the middle of the page – this is where you want to be placing your Key Skills/Key Achievements, so that they can immediately see that you’ve got what they’re looking for. Look at the Person Specification or job outline which will give you some clues about what skills they want/what you need to be flagging up in that space. If you don’t clarify here that you’re a good match for the job, the employer will be less inclined to read any further – remember, their time is precious so they’re going to concentrate their efforts on those people who have sold themselves effectively on page one!
Chronology – keep your employment history and your qualifications in chronological order, with the most recent first. As a rule of thumb, if you have a degree and post-graduate qualifications or experience, there is no need to be listing GCSE results (unless there is some clear relevance to the job role). Whilst it is custom and practice within the social care sector for people to have a full work history, with any gaps accounted for – your CV can be trimmed in such a way that you have the most recent 10 years highlighted in detail, with a shorter, bullet-pointed list of other previous roles (or a footnote that states that a full working history can be provided should you be shortlisted). For the purposes of the initial recruitment process, most employers would only be interested in your most recent experience/work that relates to the post being applied for.
Experience – when detailing your employment history, try to list the responsibilities of each post in order of their relevance to the post you are applying for. For example, if you are going to be working within a newly developed Adoption Team, you would want to highlight your experience of adoption work within your previous roles – even if the main focus of those roles was not specifically adoption – bring it to the fore, and give some indication of the scope of your involvement & knowledge in this area of work.
One size doesn’t fit all – it might feel like a chore, but you really do need to check that your CV “fits” the role that you’re applying for – don’t leave the employer searching for clues about how you match the job’s requirements.