The importance of professional CV writing

In today’s competitive job market employers and recruitment consultants are becoming increasingly intolerant toward badly constructed employment applications and CVs. Your CV is the most important and potentially lucrative marketing material you are ever likely to create. Written well, it can gain you access to numerous opportunities and should deliver exactly what it is designed for – opening the door to the interview room. Written badly, your CV writing could cost you the all important interview and the chance for the career change.

With many employers, the decision to interview or reject a candidate is purely made on the strength of the CV. Did you know that on average your CV has less than 15 seconds to make an impact? Often you will be pitching your application in competition with many other job seekers and it is common for most positions to attract multiple candidates.

A professional, interview winning CV IS a necessity. Your CV is your tool of achievement. It is your sales pitch and potentially your only opportunity to sell yourself to an employer.

According to a nationwide survey of recruitment professionals carried out by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), 47% said that out of all the CVs they received, over half (50%) contained spelling and grammatical errors. The online survey took place in December 2006 and overall, was answered by 266 recruitment professionals. Basic errors – misspelling ‘Curriculum Vitae’ is one of the most common mistakes.

Taking ownership of your CV and recognising its value is the first step in the production of a great document. Whilst the content and structure of your CV is what will ultimately sell you, it is also important to pay attention to its physical appearance, format and layout. This will initially attract the employer to your CV amongst the multitude of others.

The basic content of your CV writing should include; your name, address, contact details, profile, career history, education, and relevant supporting information. In what order these should appear will depend on several factors.

In the first few seconds an employer will want to know who you are, whether or not you can do the job and what benefits you can bring to their company. You can usually contain this information in a short, concise profile at the very start of your CV. Do not make this too long winded and don’t waffle, the sole aim of a profile is get across the information that will make an employer want to read the rest of your CV.

When writing a profile, steer clear of the common mistakes of the generic summary. Statements such as ‘works well as an individual and as part of a team’ or ‘self motivated and able to work to tight deadlines’ are seen all to often and will not make any impression with your audience. Even if these statements are true, with some thought and attention they can be demonstrated in the main body of your CV.

The one thing that most jobseekers have in common when it comes to writing their own CV is the difficulty in selling themselves. There is no room for modesty. Don’t forget, on reading your CV the employer has not yet met you and therefore this could be your only opportunity for a sales pitch.

Your career history should always be listed in chronological order with your most recent position first, working backwards. Think carefully about your key achievements in each position and do not be tempted to just list your responsibilities.

Each position you have held for the last 10 years should have at least 3 key bullet points stating your achievements to go with it. Use power words in your key descriptions such as ‘implemented’, ‘visionary’, ‘succeeded’, ‘significant’, ‘directed’, ‘demonstrated’, ‘established’ and ‘devised’. Include your specific transferable skills and those that are likely to capture attention.

If you have a degree then always make sure you state your grade and where you studied, even if your degree was obtained several years ago. If you gained your degree more recently, include your dissertation title and any other academic achievement that you feel may be relevant to the position you applied for.

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