Careers Clinic: How To Perfect Your CV In 7 Steps

Your CV is your professional story shared with prospective employers. Research by LinkedIn tells us you have only six seconds to capture the imagination of potential employers so you need to tell your career story clearly, concisely and interestingly to get an interview. Here are simple, effective rules you must follow when drafting your CV. 

Format, format, format

The boring stuff first! Stick to standard consistent formatting, Verdana Font size 10, and 1.5 spacing. Research proves this effective combination of font, size, and spacing is easiest to read and is the preferred font of those with learning difficulties, such as Dyslexia.  No fancy stuff (unless you are going for a creative role). Once finished converting your CV to a PDF file which ensures no nasty formatting errors sneak in when submitting it by email.

Signpost information 

At the very top of the page, in bold lettering, include your full name, address, email and phone number. Make sure your email address is appropriate e.g. [email protected], no fun or funny emails! The very first thing the reader should see is your personal information accurately and clearly displayed. Follow this with a 3-5 sentence career profile, then work experience, education, achievements, hobbies, and interests. Ensure that all headings are bold and easily identifiable for the reader.

Keep it short but detailed

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have achieved; your CV should be two A4 pages with one additional page for your cover letter. Use the job description to identify areas of crossover between your current experience and the job you are applying for. Be careful to achieve this in an accurate way and avoid the temptation to be liberal with the truth. Each time you include a piece of information ask yourself, ‘How does this information relate to the job description?’ and ‘What problem does it solve for my prospective employer?’

Get Personal 

Your information must be accessible and easy to read while also allowing your personal career story to shine through. Name your professional responsibilities and key achievements gained in your current and previous roles, highlight accomplishments you are proud of and back up each statement with tangible facts and figures. 

Always include a Cover Letter 

If you know the name of the person reading your CV use their name ‘Dear ….’. Outline in 3 – 5 sentences how you heard about the job and why you are applying. With the formalities out of the way use your cover letter to give more information about the items in your CV that you want to draw attention to or need to give more specific information about e.g. a gap in employment, a change of role or a period of change, etc.

Social Media Matters

Future employers, no matter what anyone says, search your social media profiles before making a decision to employ you. Before you send off your CV, review your social media profiles. If your posts and profile are questionable and not career relevant swiftly, enable your privacy settings. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and your newsfeed is full of industry relevant article.

Read over your CV

Make your CV flawless by reading over it and repeatedly checking spelling and grammar. Check that your personal details are correct, that your phone number is accurate and that your email address has not been autocorrected. Always ask a friend or family member to read over your CV and cover letter to identify any mistakes. There is nothing more unattractive to a potential employer than simple, obvious errors.

By Sinead Brady


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