Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Make your CV stand out

The step-by-step guide to making your CV unmissable
Employers can access thousands of CVs from online databases - so how do you make yours the one they pay attention to?

Mind your language

Some of the methods you'd use to create an attention-grabbing printed CV aren't available to you online ? you can't use unusually-coloured paper, for example. And it's unwise to experiment with fancy fonts or backgrounds, as these may not be readable when your CV is opened on different PC. This means that it's up to you to use words to make your CV stand out from the crowd.

Always try to keep your CV short and to the point - make every word mean something. Focus on communicating specific achievements and skills, giving examples. Avoid cliches and empty phrases - for example, instead of writing that you have "leadership qualities" write "headed a team of five secretaries and administrators".

Try something different

Experiment with a functional CV instead of making a chronological list of your previous jobs. A functional CV consists of a series of skills headings under which you list concrete examples of things you've done that demonstrate your expertise in these areas.

For example:

Recruitment and selection
  • Placed job advertisements in local press
  • Scheduled interviews with candidates
  • Checked references

Alternatively, you add a skills table to your chronological CV, so that employers can see at a glance what you can do. For example:


Software:
MS Word
Excel

Administrative:
Diary organisation
Arranging travel

Be a softies

Emphasize your soft skills in your skills summary. These are what a lot of employers are looking for, so if you're known for your diplomacy or your excellent communication skills, say so.

Make your personal profile punchy

Some websites give you the opportunity to include a personal profile which acts as an introduction to your CV. This should be

a few short sentences communicating your skills and the type of person you are

, so think about what you have to offer and what you want to convey. For example:

"Highly trained and experienced legal secretary. Reliable, calm under pressure and looking forward to facing new career challenges. Excellent communicator and organiser with experience in event planning, administration and training."

Be aware of employers' needs

Some organisations don't like opening attachments because of the viruses they may contain. When asked to email a CV to an employer, paste it into an email as well as attaching it, so they have a choice.

Consider a personal website

Personal websites are a way of telling employers more about your skills and allow you to be more creative than a CV. They are also a way of showing off your IT abilities. Consider setting one up and putting a link to it in your CV - but remember to keep it professional - all the personal content on your MySpace site might not go down well with prospective employers.

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