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Preparing your CV - Tips for Success

09-July-2015
09-July-2015 8:32
in Granite Consulting Community
by Lucy Thomson

How you’re presented on paper is absolutely crucial in impressing a potential employer. In a market like the current one, it is rare that every applicant will have the opportunity to sell themself in person or even over the phone, so having a clear and concise resume is your best chance to get through the initial cut. 

The most important thing is to clearly identify your past roles and employers in a clear and easy to read, uniform manner; when an employer is scanning for key words, clarity is the key.

Employment history.

Start with the essentials for each company you've worked with:

  • Company name
  • Location –  this can highlight a good knowledge of the immediate area, perhaps suggest a network of people in the local industry, and an understanding of work legislation and expectations
  • Role (s) – list each job title held with the company, and the duration of each role
  •  Start / end date in chronological order from most recent – year and month, specifying if the role was contract or permanent

Having the essential elements clear in black and white will help your experience stand out from the masses when your application is received. Years of skills and experiences come across underwhelming if there is not a clear formula used to present the information in a dynamic way.

Keep it brief.

Fifteen pages of intricate detail of every task undertaken is a hindrance, and will clutter the key points you want to portray. Instead, present a succinct bullet-pointed list of responsibilities relevant to the current opportunity, with project names / dates, technologies, methodologies and frameworks used, direct reports, and budgets. Touch on achievements and exceptional results that could benefit your future employer.  Further information and detail of your employment history is best explained in a conversation.

Keep it relevant.

Ensure you include the skills and technology that will have meaning and value to the reader / potential employer. While a well-rounded skill set is great to mention, complex detail on tasks not relevant to the role you’re applying for will distract from the points that you don’t want to be missed. Furthermore, tailor your CV to the job - if you’re applying for different roles have a seperate version for each one.

Present the information professionally.

This sounds obvious but is often neglected.

  • Simple fonts, a standard font size (10-12), clear bolded headings
  • Correct spelling and grammar, consistent use of the right tense, and a hint of vocabulary - this will demonstrate good communication skills, which is frequently beneficial
  • Correct use of your word processing program e.g. MS Word – applications are almost all taken electronically, so if your MS Office skills are poorly conveyed, the person opening your application will know
  • Clip art, silly fonts, pictures and coloured text should be avoided

Explain any gaps.

Keep the document in a positive tone. If there are breaks in your employment history, explain them. For example, if you spent six months travelling, mention this. Or if you worked in a succession of short contracts, indicate that they were infact short contracts, not poor staying power. 

Personal information.

Name, email and phone number (mobile) are essential. Stating your current suburb or postcode is also useful in identifying whether work locations are appropriate (or ideal). If you have extensive working history overseas, it is beneficial to highlight your legal status to work in Australia – residency, citizenship, visa status – as this will be essential in your application progressing.

References.

A potential employer will want and need to verify the quality of your work, before signing on the dotted line. Provide contact details of at least two recent employers, identifying your working relationship. Ideally someone you have reported to in a similar role is the best idea, as they will have the most relevant feedback.  It goes without saying that you should ask and/or inform them you have used them as a reference.

Delivery.

Send the document in the format requested (Word, PDF etc), via the method requested, including any other documents the job ad asks for. Failing to follow the instructions this early on in the process can indicate poor attention to detail and will not do your application any favours.

Like a strong handshake, a great CV is an important opportunity to make a great first impression. It your first communication with a potential employer and thus by following these steps, you’ll be putting your best foot forward in the application process.