We all love the convenience of a quick Google search but looking for information on how to write a CV will result in a massive number of hits, all of which can be confusing and off putting. If we are being honest, Google is often the go to source of information for many of us and careers information and advice websites can be overlooked. This means you’re missing out on expertise, current information, events and possibly wasting valuable time creating a CV which isn’t suitable for the student/graduate job market.
So, why not grab a coffee and take a few minutes to have a look at your university careers website to get on the right track when writing your CV? One of the most common mistakes I see when reviewing applications is the generic CV. It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially with all the templates available from our friend Google. Employers want to read a CV with information targeted to them. It immediately creates the right impression and confidence that this candidate understands the role and what the recruiter is ideally looking for.
Employers will tell you what skills, attributes, strengths they are looking for in the vacancy information. The person specification has been carefully thought through to identify candidates who will be able to do the job and “fit” with the organisation. Employers use this throughout the recruitment process to assess and measure your ability/competence. You should aim to provide convincing evidence that demonstrates how you meet all of the essential (and as many of the desirable requirements) as you can in your CV. This will give you the best chance of progressing through to the next stage.
How do I do that?
A key place to do this is in the main body of your CV where you write about your experience. The temptation is to list key responsibilities and tasks. Instead, aim to include how you carried out the tasks and responsibilities. Provide details on when you used the skills the employer is looking for. Try not to be tempted to include everything you have ever done. Keep going back to the job description and person specification to keep on track. This does mean you might have to be brave and miss out some information.
Use bullet points to make this easy to read. Start each bullet point with a relevant, active word to evidence the required skills. There’s a great resource on our website to help with this. Include results and metrics if you can to showcase the impact you have had.
Don’t worry if you feel you haven’t got a lot of of what you believe is relevant experience. Employers tell us they’re interested and value all types of different experiences – part time work, internships, volunteering, involvement in societies and your hobbies/interests for example, can all be used. Use your past experiences to reflect on how you have used the required skills and write about these in your CV. It will change each time you apply as you target each application.
Understand what the employer wants to tailor your CV for each role you apply for and… bin the generic CV!