Always bear in mind that your CV is your chance to make a first impression on your employer. Standing out from the crowd in a way that showcases your talents effectively could make the difference between securing an interview and missing out on your ideal role.
Learning what employers look for in a CV and how to communicate your skills and experience effectively is a valuable professional skill, one that is well worth developing to ensure successful job hunting throughout your career.
How long should a CV be?
As you make progress in your career your CV will inevitably grow as you gain more experience. However, as you become more senior it is not necessary to include your earliest job experience, particularly if it is not relevant to the role you are applying for. Generally, try to avoid your CV running over more than 2 sides of A4.
"Providing a full employment history is important and professionals should be prepared to discuss any gaps where they have taken time out of the workforce”, advises Jose Bokhorst, Director of Walters People the Netherlands. “However, once you have been progressing in your career for some time you can remove the details of your earliest jobs and focus instead on your most recent and impressive achievements."
Should I include personal information?
Some personal information about your hobbies is fine, but bear in mind that your employer will be looking for information that is relevant to the role you are applying for.
"Think about your interests and hobbies and consider how they have equipped you with new skills or experience that are valuable in your profession”, said Jose Bokhorst. “Presenting personal information in this way can increase your appeal to an employer and show your personality simultaneously."
Your skills needn’t be directly related to the role. Qualities like being a self-starter or possessing leadership skills are valuable to employers across a wide range of roles.
Should I put my referees on my CV?
You can include your references on your CV if you wish, but it isn't essential. Before accepting you into a new job, your employer will need to verify your employment history by contacting your referees. Having former colleagues who are happy to be contacted arranged in advance ensures that the entire process runs smoothly.
"Speak to your referees in advance and check that they are happy to be contacted before handing out their contact information” ,Jose Bokhorst continued. “Even if you have a good relationship with your referee it is always safest to avoid making any assumptions when sharing their contact information."
Should I include a photo on my CV?
Despite including a photo becoming increasingly popular with professionals, many employers are put off by it.
"Rather than including a photo on your CV, upload a professional picture to your LinkedIn profile instead”, Jose Bokhorst advised. “Employers are very likely to check your professional social media presence as part of their recruitment process and this is a more appropriate place to have a headshot."
Should I put my work email address on my CV?
Unless you’ve clarified it in advance with your current employer, avoid handing out your work contact details when applying for jobs. If you are using Hotmail or another web based email provider consider whether your email address is appropriate for professional use. If not, create a new account with a more professional username.
Should I include a cover letter?
Cover letters can be very useful but they need to be specifically tailored to a role. A generic letter may seem convenient, but you can make a much stronger impression by providing your potential employer with information that is specific to the role.
If you decide to include a cover letter, use it to clearly outline where your skills and experience match those required in the role and address the letter directly to the interviewer.
Now that you know how to create the perfect cv, prepare yourself for the job interview.