When it comes to applying for a new job, the CV is your calling card to potential employers, and the key to landing an interview. First impressions really do count here so be professional, be outstanding, be the candidate they have to meet. Here are our top-tips to nailing it…
There is no right or wrong way to write a CV, but there are some common sections you should cover. These include:
A successful CV is always carefully structured and clearly presented.
Always remember the CV hotspot – the upper middle area of the first page. This is where the recruiter's eye will naturally fall, so make sure you include your most important information there.
If applying by post, always use crisp, quality paper. Use an A4 envelope to post your applications so the CV is never folded or crumpled.
A good CV is clear and concise.
Overload your potential employer with information and you will lose them. Cut the waffle, focus and don’t go beyond two sides of A4.
Read the job desecration from start-to-finish…twice. Take notes and create bullet points highlighting everything you can satisfy, and all the bits you can't.
If there are the areas where you're lacking, fill in the blanks by adapting the skills you do have. For example, if the job in question requires someone with sales experience, there's nothing stopping you from using any retail work you've undertaken (even if it was something to help pay the bills through university). It will still demonstrate the skills you do have, and show how they're transferable.
When you've established what the job entails and how you can match each requirement, create a CV specifically for that role. Remember, there is no such thing as a standard CV; every CV you send to a potential employer should be tailored specifically to that role. You don't have to re-write the whole thing, just adapt the details so they're relevant to the job.
Under the skills section of your CV, don't forget to mention key skills that can help you to stand out from the crowd. These could include: communication skills, computer skills, team working, problem solving or even speaking a foreign language.
Skills can come out of the most unlikely places, so really think about what you've done to grow your own skills, even if you take examples from being in a local sports team or joining a voluntary group – All experience is relevant.
Highlight the skills that really show off the attributes needed for the job at hand. Describe any examples of positions of responsibility, working in a team, or showing your own initiative. For example, if you ran your university's newspaper or if you started a weekend league football team that became a success.
Don't include passive interests like watching TV, reading and music unless it really does count; these activities usually apply to anyone.
Really get to grips with the valuable skills and experience you have gained from past work positions and relate these skills to the role you're applying for.
Example: "The work experience involved working in a team," or "This position involved planning, organisation and leadership as I was responsible for a team of people”.
Also, use assertive and positive language to really sell those skills e.g. "developed," "organised" or "achieved".
These should be from someone who has employed you in the past and can vouch for your skills and experience. Don’t panic if you've never worked before, you're perfectly OK to use a teacher or tutor as your referees.
It's crucial to review your CV on a regular basis and add any new skills or experience that's missing. For example, if you've just done some volunteering or worked on a new project, make sure they’re added – potential employers are always impressed with candidates who go the extra mile to boost their own skills and experience.
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