CV’s are tricky things: What do employers want to read? How do you stop an employer rolling their eyes after reading the first line? How do you talk yourself up, without sounding arrogant? How do you stand out? All of these questions and 100s more flooded the presenter at the “CV Building” skills workshop I attended last year, and by the looks of things, these questions haven’t changed!
So first of all I would like to state: There is no “perfect CV!” All employers are different and want different things from a CV, so tailor yours to the organisation you are applying to. From my experience employers do prefer a skills based CV rather than an experienced based CV, which means that instead of listing the experience you have, and writing about what you did in each job… employers prefer a list of the skills they have advertised and examples of where you have displayed these skills. This is because instead of having to hunt for the skills they have asked for, it is clearly displayed in written form. So here are my top tips for creating a Skills Orientated CV:
- Layout. Layout. Layout. Make sure it’s neat, easy to read, chronological where it needs to be, and try to match the layout to the company style/ role. If you are applying for a creative role, then make your CV creative, add some funky colours, designs, background images etc., but if you’re applying for a corporate business role, try and make it look professional and smart. Use lines to break up the text, headings and titles, and even banners if this helps with the layout.
Here is the layout to the first page of my CV, as you can see I have a decorative banner down the left hand side, and I have used headings for each of the different sections, I have also used “small caps” throughout the entire document to improve the “executive” look of the document. Finally I have also blocked out my personal details so all of you nosey people can’t see what I’ve written 😉
- Do not let your document spill over to more than two pages! An employer doesn’t want to be reading an essay of every little thing you have ever done, they are only interested in the key points, so tailor your CV and if you have more to say, then you can always use it as ammo in the interview
- If there is so much more you want to write, then create a Linked In Profile here. And put a link to it in your CV, that way this lets employers know there is more information about you online.
- Most employers have a list of skills they have asked for, and they tick against them when you have made a reference in your CV, therefore in the skills section of your CV, ensure the skills are in the same order as in the job description, this makes an employers life easier and they are more likely to have a positive impression of you.
- Use the trigger words. Some employers have more than 100,000 applications, therefore they may use an automated system to sift through the CVs looking for trigger words, even if you are applying to a smaller company, use the language in the job description because it makes the readers life easier!
This is the second page of my CV, as you can see I have picked out 5 key skills and then listed at least two examples of when I have used this skill to create impact. I have kept the layout the same as the first page by using headings and the same banner. At the bottom of the page I have offered two references, however it is possible to state “references on request”.
I have also added an “additional information” page to my CV, which is useful if you have any further skills or activities that you have done that don’t quite fit into any of the skills above, in this section I talked about the volunteering that I did and s few of my interests to show that I have a life outside of work. In this section I also put a link to this blog.
Finally if you are looking at potentially applying to company, where you aren’t sure if a role exists or not, then look at the Target Jobs: Top 10 Skills That’ll Get You a Job When You Graduate. This will help you get started on a skills orientated CV.
Finally get that covering letter sorted! Ideally use the same style as your CV so that it’s clear the two link, therefore linking that style to you as an individual. This will make you seem more organised.