A CV has traditionally meant a brief account of your professional work experience and qualifications. However, in today’s job market, your CV must be much more. In order to stand out your CV needs to be a demonstration of your ability to fulfill a certain role and achieve results that will make a positive impact on the bottom line of a company. Before writing your CV it is essential that you know the career field you are seeking and understand the skills, abilities, and experience required. You must analyze your professional experience and determine which elements best demonstrate your qualifications for the position. Your CV must communicate your accomplishments, achievements, skills, abilities, and talents in a way that sets you apart from other candidates in your field.
A CV is often the first formal communication with prospective employers. Its purpose is to demonstrate the value you can add to the company, and convince them to invite you for an interview. A CV is also a demonstration of the quality of your work. Be sure your writing is clear and succinct and that your CV has a professional presentation.
A CV will do two things for you during your job search. First, it will be a sales brochure, advertising the best reasons to consider you for a position. Remember that, on average, a hiring professional will spend about 30 seconds reviewing your CV; so you have a very limited amount of time to convince a prospective employer that it’s worth his or her time to add you to the interview list.
Second, your CV will provide a guide for the interview. Employers often base their interview questions on the skills and experience listed in your CV. Use your CV to lead interviewers to ask questions about your most impressive and relevant qualifications or achievements. Prioritize the most relevant information at the top of your CV.
The first step in writing a winning CV requires you to define the position or type of position you are looking for and assess your top qualifications. If you are applying for several types of jobs, consider writing a different CV for each. Your CV will be most effective when you target a specific type of job, and then describe how your skills, abilities, and experience qualify you for that position.
For each job type, research the job responsibilities and requirements for the position. You can find this information by browsing through the job advertisements for your occupation. Determine what your responsibilities will be, what skills, abilities, and knowledge you’ll need, and what personal and professional characteristics are required for success. Once you have determined the requirements of the position, analyze your past experience, accomplishments, education, and training for examples of work and personal characteristics and begin building your CV in a way that best demonstrates your ability to succeed.
The best CVs describe your accomplishments and experience in terms of an Action-Benefit statement, which is a precise description of an action you took that produced a tangible and measurable result that benefited your company.
Writing Powerful Action-Benefit Statements
Action-Benefit statements use your accomplishments and experience to demonstrate the positive impact you can have on a company’s bottom line. An Action-Benefit statement consists of:
Action: A job responsibility or specific action that you took when faced with a situation, problem or opportunity that enabled you to achieve a positive result.
Benefit: The positive result or benefit to the organization, such as an increase in revenue, a reduction in costs, streamlined processes or systems, or improved morale.
An Action-Benefit statement might read “Analyzed declining sales and developed campaign that increased orders by 30% in less than one month.” This statement describes the situation or challenge you faced (declining sales), the Action you took (developed a campaign), and the Benefit of your actions (a 30% increase in orders). Always quantify or qualify the accomplishments and achievements described in your Action-Benefit statement.
When you are “quantifying” results, consider the impact of your work in measurable terms and include the numbers, percents, dollars and other values that represent your experience in the best possible light.
Quantify Action-Benefit Statements
Before: Supervised a large staff of retail employees covering multiple territories. Effectively managed business unit P&L and consistently grew profits.
After: Ten years experience managing 15 employers across multiple territories. Effectively managed P&L of $10 million business unit. Consistently generated 30-35% gross profit.
Alternatively, when you are “qualifying” accomplishments, consider describing the process, depicting the environment and including the personal characteristics that a future employer would consider valuable.
Qualify Action-Benefit Statements
Before: Increased sales through cold-calling, follow-up and account management.
After: Consistently grew revenue and profits in a rapidly changing environment through aggressive cold-calling, persistent follow-up, and relationship-focused account management.
When writing an Action-Benefit (statement, it is unnecessary to provide details on how you solved the problem. You can provide this information at the interview. Focus on the results as opposed to the process. If your Action-Benefit (statements are powerful enough, employers will invite you in for an interview just to see how you achieved the results.
How Long Should a CV Be?
A CV should be as long as needed to list your best and most relevant qualifications for the job you are seeking. For recent graduates or those with only a few years of experience, you should be able to put all your relevant experience on a single page. If you have extensive experience in your field, you may require a two-page CV to list all or your relevant experience. Instead of considering the length of your CV, make sure that it is clear and concise, and that the information is relevant to the position you are seeking. The most important consideration for a CV is not length, but whether it sufficiently describes your best qualifications for the job.
There are three basic types of CVs, chronological, functional, and combined. This section describes each type of CV and their advantages and disadvantages.
Chronological is preferred by most employers because it clearly demonstrates your work history and professional growth. The chronological format focuses on the chronology of your work history by highlighting dates of employment, places of employment, and job titles. This format directly ties responsibilities and accomplishments to companies and time frames. This is usually the preferred format if you are applying for a similar or more advanced position in the same field.
Use this format if you:
· Want to highlight stability, consistency, growth, and development in your career.
· Are looking for a similar or more senior position within the same industry.
· Have job titles that are impressive stepping stones and your most recent position is the one most likely to impress prospective employers.
· Enables an employer to determine, at a glance, where and when you’ve worked and what you accomplished at each job.
· Is the most common and widely accepted format.
· Provides the employer with a clear sense of your career progress.
· Limited work experience and employment gaps are obvious.
· Could reveal a history of changing jobs frequently.
· Could reveal if you were in the same job too long or have held the same type of job too long.
· Does not highlight skills and accomplishments as much as it highlights work history.
If you are changing careers, or have gaps or other inconsistencies in your work history, a functional CV is recommended. The functional format emphasizes your skills, capabilities, and accomplishments, and de-emphasizes your job titles, employers, and dates of employment. The functional format allows you to prioritize your experience and accomplishments according to their impact and significance, rather than chronology.
Use this format if you:
· Have changed jobs frequently in the past few years.
· Have gaps in your employment history.
· Have limited work experience in your job target.
· Are changing careers.
· Gained significant experience outside your career path.
· Highlights accomplishments, skills, and experience most relevant to your career objective.
· Takes focus off gaps or inconsistencies in your work history.
· Draws from a range of paid and non-paid experiences.
· Experience is not directly tied to specific job titles and dates of employment which can lead employers to suspect you’re trying to hide something.
· Does not emphasize promotions and career growth.
· Makes it difficult for hiring managers to tell exactly what the candidate did in each job.
To highlight specific skills, abilities or accomplishments, you could choose a combined format, which adds sections for the areas you would like to emphasize at the top of your CV. The combined format includes the traditional Experience section of a chronological CV as well as the skills and accomplishments sections of a functional CV. This format is the most flexible, allowing you to highlight those sections of your CV that are most relevant to your career objective. This is an increasingly popular format for CVs.
Use this format if you:
· Are a senior-level professional or executive and have significant accomplishments.
· Want to highlight your relevant abilities during a career transition.
· Are targeting your CV to fit specific job requirements while displaying the continuity of your career history.
· Want to emphasize skills and abilities you have not used in recent jobs.
· Have been freelancing, consulting, or performing temporary work.
· Highlights your primary skills and accomplishments at the top of your CV.
· Format can be arranged to emphasize either skills and abilities or work history, whichever is most appropriate for your career objective.
· Groups qualifications into categories that relate directly to your career objective.
· CV could become longer than necessary and may lose the employer’s interest.
· CV may contain redundant information or lack focus.
The material you gather for your CV can come from a variety of sources, both personal and professional. When deciding which qualifications best demonstrate your ability to succeed in your new position, consider the following topics:
The necessary tools, areas of expertise, or proficiencies that enable you to excel in your position.
The job responsibilities you have performed and the results you are able to achieve based on your skills.
Achievements and the results of your work that had a positive impact on the company.
A combination of your job responsibilities, abilities, accomplishments, and the ensuing measurable results as they apply to each position in your work history.
Your academic background.
A listing of articles, books, or portions of books which you have written, and have been published.
Relevant personal or professional training you have received.
Licenses, certifications, or other documentation required for your position.
Any relevant personal or professional honors and awards you have received.
Affiliations with organizations that demonstrate your familiarity with a career field or illustrate a personal characteristic that future employers would consider valuable.
Any volunteer work that is relevant to the position you are seeking or that demonstrates some quality you would like to highlight.
Once you have made any necessary edits to your CV, give it to several people for review. Ask them for suggestions on ways you can improve your CV. In many cases a fresh set of eyes can catch errors or obvious omissions.
Once you have finished writing your CV, consider the following points as you review:
· Have you included all the best reasons for hiring you?
· Is all information relevant to your job target?
· Does the CV flow from one section to the other in a logical fashion?
· Are the statements you made in your summary elaborated in the body of your CV?
· Are there any spelling, typing, or grammatical errors?
In addition to demonstrating your experience, qualifications, and achievements, ensure that your CV illustrates the personal and professional characteristics that employers look for in a candidate. Which of the following characteristics would an employer see in you as they review your CV?
The ability to follow through on your commitments, and keep management informed of potential problems so that they can be resolved in time to get the job done.
The ability to evaluate a situation, consider different alternatives, and come up with a reasoned approach.
The ability to clearly present ideas both verbally and in written form both to team members and to management.
The ability and desire to do what it takes to get the job done.
The ability to build rapport with others and work well as a member of a team.
Being honest and taking responsibility for your actions.
Being self-assured, confident, and poised when communicating with employees of all levels within the company, customers, and the general public.
A desire to identify and improve systems or processes in an effort to save time, reduce costs, and improve products and services.
Capability to direct and motivate a team and provide guidance toward a successful outcome.
Expertise or knowledge in a specific area or the ability to gain new knowledge quickly.
A desire to take on extra challenges and to succeed at what you are doing.
Taking pride and ownership in your work and wanting to always do the best job possible.
Common CV Myths
I should be able to create my CV in just a few hours
Describing your experience in a way that best demonstrates your qualifications for a position requires a significant amount of careful thought and hard work. Most successful CVs are written with a specific occupation in mind, emphasizing the job seeker’s areas of experience most relevant to the requirements of the job. If your last CV emphasizes your relevant skills and accomplishments in a clear and quantifiable way, and you are applying for a similar position, you might be able to make the necessary modifications fairly quickly. On the other hand, if you are starting from scratch, changing careers, or have a CV that is not written using powerful Action-Benefit (statements that present you in the best possible light), you may need to spend more time polishing your CV into a successful marketing tool for your career.
It’s okay to exaggerate the truth on your CV
Many people think it’s acceptable to exaggerate the truth on a CV. Understand that in today’s competitive job market, an employer will usually check the employment history and references of candidates, and employers are skilled at asking interview questions that reveal inconsistencies in your CV. Even if you initially get away with exaggerating your experience, your company may eventually discover the truth, which could have a negative effect on your career or even result in your termination.
A CV should be limited to one page
Your CV should be as long as you need to present your important and relevant qualifications for a job. Don’t leave out important qualifications just to keep your CV under one page. Also, placing too much information on a page makes it much harder to read. It is better to have a two-page CV that is neatly laid out with plenty of white space than a one-page CV that is dense and difficult to read.
To apply for a job, I just need to send in my CV
When applying for a job, you need to do more that just send in your CV. You will also need to write a cover letter that clearly describes how the qualifications on your CV match the requirements of the position. You will also need to follow up by calling the company to determine if they received your CV, inquire if there is any additional information you can provide, and to ask for an interview.
One CV is all I need
If you are applying for only one type of position, or several positions with exactly the same requirements, you can probably use the same CV. However, if you are applying for a variety of career fields, you should have several different CVs that present your qualifications for each type of career in the most effective manner.
You should include my salary history and expectations when asked
You should always avoid listing your salary history and expectations. You want to discuss salary during your interview after you have had a chance to sell yourself and have learned more about the roles and responsibilities involved in the position. If pressed, explain that you are confident once the requirements of the job are explained and your talents and experience are demonstrated, that you will be able to reach a reasonable salary figure. If you list a desired salary in your CV, you might either price yourself out of the position or receive less money than you might otherwise be able to negotiate.
Your CV is a work history
You want to use your CV to focus the reader on the best reasons for hiring you. Your entire work history might not be relevant to the job you are seeking, so consider de-emphasizing irrelevant experience. Some of your personal history, such as volunteer work or hobbies, might represent important and relevant experience for your next career, so include it. You need to decide for yourself what represents your best qualifications and include that information in your CV. As a general rule, make everything in your CV a reason that a future employer would want to hire you.
You should always use a Chronological CV
How you construct your CV depends on which elements of your experience qualify you for the job you are seeking. Your most important experience should be listed first, whether it is work-related, educational, or from your personal life. When considering how to position your skills, experience, and accomplishments in the best possible light, review the Chronological, Functional, and Combined CV formats, each which offer different strategies for presenting your qualifications.
The person that will land the job is the one most qualified
The person that can, using both their CV and interview skills, sell his or her skills and experience and demonstrate the ability to achieve results and add value to the company will usually get the job. Additionally, don’t underestimate the necessity of establishing rapport with your future manager and demonstrating how you fit into the company culture. Sometimes the relationships you have established are the deciding factor.
An employer won’t read my cover letter
If a CV captures an employer’s attention, they will read the cover letter and sometimes a powerful, well-crafted cover letter is enough to get you an interview. Hiring managers may also review your CV and cover letter after the interview to refresh their memory, compare you to other potential candidates, and evaluate your writing abilities.
I should include “References available upon request”
It is obvious to today’s hiring managers that references are available from a job seeker. Since an employer will assume you have references, you do not need to include this information on your CV.
Common CV Mistakes To Avoid
Misspellings, typing, and grammatical errors
Always have several people proofread your CV. You cannot count on the spell-checking or grammar-checking functions of your word processing system alone. Remember that a single error can land your CV in the reject pile.
Using the pronouns and articles
CVs should always be written in the third person without the use of I or me. A CV should also be concise with minimal use of articles such as the, a, or an. Instead of writing “I was responsible for managing a 12-person production department where the result was a more streamlined operations unit.”, write “Managed 12-person production department, which resulted in 26% increase in productivity.”
Given the number of companies that are storing the CVs they receive electronically, simply including the proper keywords may be enough to get your CV pulled for review. Keywords are mostly nouns that describe what you do, your experience, your skills and abilities, and the processes and software in which you are knowledgeable. You can determine appropriate keywords by reading job descriptions for the type of job you are seeking and including keywords in your CV, either interspersed throughout the CV or listed in a separate Skills section.
Overuse of highlighting, such as bold, italics, or underline
Drawing attention to everything is the same as drawing attention to nothing. Use highlighting such as bold, italics, and underline sparingly for maximum effect on specific areas you want to draw attention to and be consistent in your highlighting technique.
Including too much or irrelevant information
A CV should only include information that will help convince an employer to interview you. Descriptions of relevant skills and accomplishments should be concise and to the point. Including irrelevant experience and lengthy descriptions will bury the important information. Only include personal information where it demonstrates an important personal quality or qualification. A CV should represent what you can do on the job, not what you do in your personal life.
Never include any negative information about yourself or anyone else. Your CV should only make positive statements about you, your qualifications, and should never imply anything negative about former employers.
Missing an opening statement at the top of the CV
If you are a recent graduate or have limited experience in your career, you should include a Job Objective statement at the top of your CV, which will help focus the reader’s attention and describe what type of position you are looking for. If you have experience in your career field, you want a powerful Summary statement that illustrates your best qualifications for the position at the top of the CV. A well-crafted opening statement should convince an employer to keep reading.
Avoid using adjective clichés like “self-motivated” or “dynamic.” Instead, demonstrate these qualities through powerful and measurable Action-Benefit statements in your Skills, Capabilities, Accomplishments, and/or Experience sections.
Using a boring list of job responsibilities
The best CVs describe experience using Action-Benefit statements, which describe an action you took in response to a challenge or opportunity, and explain how your action had a positive benefit for your company. This method brings your experience statements to life and demonstrates how you can achieve success and produce results.
Repeatedly using the same Action Words
Never use the same action word repeatedly. Instead of using a word like directed over and over, use synonyms such as controlled, supervised, guided, or managed. Use Airadise’s Action Word thesaurus to help.
Using a chronological CV when a functional CV was needed
If you are looking for a job for which you have relevant experience and a consistent work record, then the chronological CV is probably your best choice. If you are seeking a job for which you have no recent experience, a functional CV might be better. A functional CV allows you to de-emphasize your work history, recent jobs, and any gaps in employment. It also enables you to list your relevant skills and experience at the top of your CV where a potential employer will notice it first.
If discussed at all, discuss your reasons for leaving previous employers at your interview, and always put your departure in a positive light. Rather than focus employers on the negative aspects of your former job, discuss the exciting opportunities you see in your new job or career.
CV Writing - Tips
Are you suffering from CV-writer’s block? Does everyone else’s CV seem more professional and better worded than yours? The following are some guidelines to help you create a better CV:
1. Be neat and error free.
Catch all typo’s and grammar errors. Make sure someone proofreads your CV, preferably someone attentive to details. Even the smallest error could land your CV in the reject pile.
2. Write a powerful opening statement.
Form a solid, clear opening statement that will help you carry a focused message throughout the CV. The best opening statements summarize your skills and emphasize your strengths.
3. Focus on your benefit to employers.
Focus on highlighting accomplishments that will arouse the interest of employers who read your CV. Answer the question: “How can this candidate fulfill the role and make a positive impact?” Remember that the goal is to get the interview.
4. Make a good first impression.
On average, employers spend less than 30 seconds scanning each CV. Most employers are more concerned about career achievements than education. Place the most interesting and compelling facts about yourself at the beginning, such as a list of accomplishments in order of relevance.
5. Emphasize your skills.
Use a skills or capabilities section in your CV that is organized around the main talents you have to offer. Prioritize everything.
6. Use keywords.
Include specific keywords and phrases that describe your skills and experience, such as Product Launch, Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Sales, Account Management, C++, Visual Basic, Word Processing, MS Excel, Adobe Illustrator, Graphic Design, and Advertising.
7. Use industry jargon.
Use industry jargon and acronyms to reflect your familiarity with the employer’s business, but not to the point where it makes your CV hard to read or understand. Spell out acronyms in parentheses if they are not obvious, such as TQM (Total Quality Management).
Portray yourself as active, accomplished, intelligent, and capable of contributing. Examples: Managed, Launched, Created, Directed, Established, Organized, and Supervised.
Never use personal pronouns such as I or me in your CV. Instead of complete sentences, use short Action-Benefit statements, like: Coordinated and published a weekly newsletter that raised awareness for local community events.
10. Highlight key points.
Use bold, italics, and underlining to highlight the most relevant information on your CV. For ASCII text-only CVs, you may use capital letters, quotation marks, even asterisks, to emphasize important words or section titles.
In your CV, use only the amount of space required to demonstrate your qualifications for the position clearly and succinctly.
The general rule of thumb is to show your work experience only for the last 10 to 15 years, unless there is specific prior experience that is especially relevant to the position you are seeking.
13. Quantify or qualify experience.
Numbers are a powerful tool, and should be included in your Action-Benefit statements. Instead of writing “Responsible for increasing sales in my territory,” use “Increased sales in my territory 150% over 6 months. Managed 30 accounts increasing revenues from $1.5M to $2M annually.”
In addition to reviewing your experience, employers also use the CV to sense whether you are organized, logical, and concise. Make sure your CV is balanced, neat, visually appealing, and flows consistently. Clearly separate sections and emphasize section titles. Leave sufficient blank space between sections for easy reading.
15. Just communicate.
Abandon the use of exorbitant, exquisite vocabulary. In other words, don’t try to impress employers with the depth of your vocabulary. Use words everyone can understand.
16. Omit salary information.
Never refer to salary in your CV. Save this information for the interview.
17. Avoid questionable subjects.
Never refer to personal information such as race, religion, marital status, age, political party, or even personal views. In all but a few instances, it would be illegal for the employer to consider such issues. Also, avoid the use of humor and clichés in most CVs.
18. Be honest.
Lying or exaggerating your abilities will always come back to haunt you. Since employers usually check into serious candidates, you will want every detail to check out.
19. Sell your strengths.
Do not under-emphasize your strengths and experience. Portray yourself in the best possible light. Skills that seem natural to you, others may never grasp.
20. Write your own CV.
Be personal, yet professional. Create a CV that reflects your best personal characteristics and positive traits.
21. Personal traits.
If you want to include personal traits in your CV, such as “Dependable, Highly-Organized, Self-Motivated, and Responsible,” rather than just listing these traits, try demonstrating these characteristics using examples from your experience. For example, instead of writing “Dependable,” write “Never missed an important deadline in five years as a project manager.”
To de-emphasize glaring gaps in your work history, consider using a Functional CV, which focuses on your skills and accomplishments rather than a Chronological format, which emphasizes the progression of your experience.
23. Combine sections when possible.
Try to combine any short sections together to make your CV more compact. For example, if you only have one entry under training, consider placing it under your education instead and change the section title to “Education and Training.”
24. Use common section headings.
Use common section headings. Examples: Objective, Experience, Employment, Work History, Skills, Summary, Summary of Qualifications, Accomplishments, Achievements, Capabilities, Education, Professional Affiliations, Publications, Licenses and Certifications, and Honors.
25. Be positive.
Remove any negative comments or feelings conveyed in your CV, especially when it comes to previous employment experiences. Emphasize a positive, can-do attitude.
CV Writing Questions & Answers
Q: How is a CV read?
Employers scan your CV for about 30 seconds on average, and ask themselves the following questions. Does this candidate possess the necessary skills to succeed at this position? Does this candidate demonstrate characteristics that fit this role and this company? Does this CV provide proof that the candidate can produce positive results and achieve success? Should I invite this candidate in for an interview to find out more? Employers want to find evidence in your CV that you will be successful on the job.
Q: A CV is a work history, right?
Some people make the mistake of thinking that a CV is just a work history. More importantly, it’s a presentation of the “professional you” on paper. The importance of the work experience component on the CV is to put your skills and characteristics in a context that is understandable and believable to the employer and to demonstrate your qualifications for the position.
Q: How can I make my CV stand out against the competition?
The best way to make your CV stand out is by tailoring your CV to the exact requirements of the position you are applying for and by describing your accomplishments and experience using Action-Benefit statements that illustrate how your actions produced a measurable benefit to your previous employer. By doing these two things, you will create a CV that demonstrates you have the skills, abilities, and experience required for success in the position, and that you have the proven ability to apply those skills and abilities to achieve a positive result and add value to the company.
Q: What type of CV will be best for me?
Many people wonder what would be the best type of CV for a given situation. Should it be chronological? Should it be functional? Most importantly, your CV should be logical. You want to include the most interesting and compelling facts about you first on your CV. If those facts are shown in your current job, you probably want to use a Chronological format. If not, you may want to use a Functional format that highlights your skills, capabilities, and accomplishments up front.
Avoid these CV blunders that you might find on the CVs of inexperienced job seekers:
· Lack of Focus: Be sure to start your CV with a clear objective or a summary statement. This gives you a roadmap for writing the CV and the employer a roadmap for reading it.
· Poor Organization: Define a logical principle that supports the structure of your CV and carry this theme throughout. Be consistent with use of highlighting such as bolding, italicizing, and underlining.
· Dull Responsibilities: Would you be interested in somebody’s basic job descriptions if you had 100 CVs in a pile? Probably not. You can avoid this blunder by listing accomplishments and developing measurable Action-Benefit statements that demonstrate your ability to achieve results.
· Spelling and Grammatical Errors: Even one error could land your CV in the reject pile. Make sure you proofread. Proofread and have someone else proofread your CV before you submit it to an employer.
· Unconventional Formats or Styles: In an attempt to be different, variations from conventional format can be construed as too creative or abnormal. Instead, ensure that your accomplishments and unique talents make you stand out. You’re better off using a conventional format and addressing your skill set to the business needs of your prospective employer.
Q: What can I do if my CV doesn’t seem to be working?
If you have put a great deal of energy and thought into your CV but are still not getting the results you expected, ask yourself these questions. “Am I sending it to the right people? Are they hiring managers? Am I being realistic about the kind of job I should be looking for?” Secondly, look at the message of your CV. If someone who didn’t know you read your CV, what would they say about you after a 30-second glance? One way you can test that is to have a stranger read your CV and ask that person, “Just based on what you’ve read about me, what can you determine about my ability to achieve results or make a positive impact?”
Q: How much time does a hiring manager spend looking at the average CV?
The average hiring manager looks at a CV for about 15 to 30 seconds, so be sure to put the most important information, such as your accomplishments and qualifications, at the top of your CV.
Q: If applying for a part-time job, do I need a CV?
Though many part-time or entry-level jobs do not require a CV, presenting a CV along with your application form may serve to separate you from the rest of the candidates. Also, since writing a CV is a life-long endeavor, it is never too early to start creating a list of your skills and experience in the form of a CV.
Q: What format should I use if I am just leaving the military?
Unless your career in the military is identical to the career field you are seeking outside the military, the best format for someone just leaving the military is a functional CV. It may be difficult for a civilian employer to understand your military accomplishments and level of experience in civilian terms. Before creating your CV, define what type of job you are looking for and the skills and abilities needed for that job. Then extract from your military experience those items that demonstrate these skills and abilities. It is probably more important to describe the skills and abilities you’ve gained from your experience than list the positions you’ve held in the military.
Keywords are used by computer search engines to locate candidates in a CV database based on the skills and experience described in their CV. Keywords may include industry-specific jargon, career-related skills, computer programs you have an expertise in, machines you use, and any nouns and terms that describe the tasks you perform and the requirements of your position. When you have generated a comprehensive list of these keywords and terms, add them in a Skills section of your CV, or include them throughout your CV in the descriptions of your capabilities, accomplishments, and job experience.
Providing a picture, or any information about race, religion, political affiliation, gender, marital status, number of children, sexual preference, health, or weight is not appropriate for a CV, unless it is relevant to the position you are seeking. Also, do not include information about salary or any negative information about previous employers. Also, avoid including personal information such as hobbies or interests unless they demonstrate skills relevant to your next job.
You should always market yourself in the best possible light, but it is never a good idea to exaggerate your qualifications on a CV beyond the truth. If you are selected as a potential candidate, companies will verify the information in your CV. Additionally, they may ask specific questions about your experience and education, and you will need to feel comfortable and confident in your response.
Q: If I e-mail my CV, should I also mail a hard copy?
It is always a good idea to mail your CV in addition to sending it by e-mail. A CV presented on quality paper and correctly formatted will make the best impression.
A CV should consist of as many pages as necessary to present the skills, abilities, experience, accomplishments, and education that qualify you for the career field you are seeking. A general rule of thumb is one page if you are a recent graduate or new to your career path and more than one page if you have sufficient experience in your career path to merit an extra page.
Q: Can I use the same CV for several different job types?
You will get the best results if you create an individual CV targeted to each job you apply for. That doesn’t mean, however, you have to start from scratch each time. Create a base CV that contains all the skills, accomplishments, and experience you have developed over your career. Then rearrange and refocus the critical information to position you in the best possible light for each job.
Layout and appearance is very important, as it can convey to a potential employer your ability to communicate and present information. Make sure your CV is easy to read and contains plenty of white space. Use bold fonts to emphasize section headings, and bullet points to separate important pieces of information.
You should always have someone check your CV for spelling and grammatical errors. Others may also have suggestions on improving your CV in ways you have not considered.
Q: How are scan-able or electronic CVs different from regular CVs?
If you anticipate that your CV will be added to a CV database you will want to prepare your CV accordingly. Scan-able and electronic CVs should be plain, readable fonts with minimal additional formatting, so they can be scanned into a computer with the fewest errors. Employers will look for potential candidates by searching for keywords that best describe the skill set required, so be sure to include the keyword nouns when describing your experience, skills, and abilities.
Q: Is there a special format for e-mailing CVs?
When an employer requests an e-mailed CV, they will often have instructions on the format and delivery method they prefer. If no instructions are available, your best choices are ASCII or text only (.txt) or Rich Text Format (.rtf). These formats can be opened in most word processing applications and operating systems, and can be copied into the body of an e-mail with minimal reformatting. Using CVMaker to e-mail your CV will automatically ensure your CV has the proper e-mail formatting.
Q: Should I include a list of references on my CV?
You do not have to include references on your CV. Most employers will assume you can provide references if they are requested.
Q: Should I send a letter of recommendation along with my CV?
You should only send a cover letter with your CV. Any additional materials, such as references, letters of recommendation, or examples of your work should be introduced at the interview.
Q: What’s the best way to send a CV?
There are several ways to send your CV to an employer: fax, e-mail, regular mail, and express mail. When deciding which way to send your CV, it is always best to ask your potential employer which format they prefer, and then follow their instructions. If you are unsure of the company’s preference, here are some things to consider: The advantage of postal mail is that you can ensure your CV will be seen in its best form, properly formatted and printed on quality paper. The advantage of e-mail and fax is that your CV can be seen immediately, usually the same day. Express or overnight mail is probably unnecessary since most CVs are removed from their envelopes before landing on the employer’s desk so they won’t be impressed by your extra effort.
Q: Where on my CV do I place professional titles?
There are several places where it would be appropriate to put your professional title. You can place your title next to your name in the format “John Stevens, CPA.” You can include it in your Summary, Education, or Licenses/Certifications sections. If your title is an important qualification in your job search, be sure it appears at the top of your CV.
Q: I have several CVs. Which CV should I post for public view?
When posting a CV to a public CV database, you should try to identify as closely as possible the type of position you are most interested in, and then tailor your CV to that position. If there is more than one position, consider posting several different CVs, but keep in mind that a potential employer may end up seeing both CVs which would make you appear less focused than other candidates.
Q: The job I’m applying asks for desired salary. What should I do?
The most favorable salary strategy is to negotiate in person, later in the hiring process, after you have demonstrated your abilities. Do not include salary information in your CV or cover letter. If a job ad requests your salary requirements or salary history, you can either overlook it and not address the issue of salary at all, or state in your cover letter that you are confident their salary range is fair and competitive, and you would prefer to discuss salary during your interview.
Q: Should I always send a cover letter with a CV?
A cover letter is your personal introductory statement, and should always be sent along with your CV. Use your cover letter to explain why you are particularly interested in the position and draw attention to the experience on your CV that best qualifies you for the job. Also, use your cover letter to initiate the next step, a telephone call to answer questions about your CV or to request an interview.
Q: What tense should my CV be written in?
Generally, your Experience, Skills and Accomplishments, and most other sections should be written in the past tense and in the third person. Your Objective section should be written in the present tense. Use CVMaker’s Guided Phrases feature or view Sample CVs to determine the appropriate tense when in question.