When it comes to applying to your dream job you could be one of the most qualified candidates, but if your CV (curriculum vitae) does not stand out, the employer could end up skipping your CV altogether.

Unfortunately, this is more common in the present day where there can be hundreds, if not thousands of applicants to one role. Luckily it is possible to improve your CV writing skills so that hiring managers notice you and are more likely to invite you for a job interview. Your CV and cover letter are the most important part of your job search because they will help the prospective employer decide whether to find out more about you.

Here are the do’s and don’ts to CV writing and some advice on making your CV stand out from the rest!

How should I format my CV?

There are a number of ways that you can format your CV, however, it is highly recommended that you set your CV out in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent work experience and working your way back. Your CV should be no more than two pages, with a clear and basic layout (no crazy fonts or graphics). The best practice format for CV writing should look something like this:

  • Personal details (e.g. name, email, phone number)
  • Personal statement
  • Education
  • Work Experience/History
  • Skills/Achievements
  • Relevant Hobbies

A short personal statement should appear at the top of your CV and should reflect the job description for the job you are applying for. In this short paragraph, you should reflect on why you are applying for the job as well as why you are a great applicant for the role.

It is a great idea to create your CV on a word document or another tool that includes a spell checker, to ensure there are no grammatical errors that could hinder your chances of securing an interview.

The DO’s of CV Writing

You want your CV to draw attention from the recruiter, and there are appropriate ways you can do this to increase your chances of being selected for the next stage of the job application process. Follow our CV advice to prove to the employer that you are the ideal candidate for their role.

DO: Tailor your CV to the role

One of the most important aspects of CV writing is to tailor your CV to the specific job description and role you are applying for. A general CV that you send out to multiple employers may not include the specific skills the employer is looking for and could therefore decrease your chances of being picked for the next stage. While applying for a job, ensure you include the information that the recruiter asks for, such as relevant experience, transferable skills and relevant training, with the use of technical terms where possible to show understanding. A tailored CV will make a big difference when communicating with an employer.

DO: Keep descriptions brief and in bullet point format

Recruiters do not need to know your life story; just the most relevant work experience, qualifications and skills for the role. Each description of your employment history should be in bullet points with clear, precise sentences that point out what you have done and provide appropriate examples. For example, if you are applying to be a Project Manager and have previously directed a successful project can you give specific examples of the outcomes? ‘Directed -, ensuring the project was delivered on time and on budget. This resulted in a 20% increase in sales for -‘.

DO: Use power words when highlighting your experience

Employers and recruiters see the same terminology on CVs day in and day out, with a huge number of people citing the exact same skills and reasons for applying to a role. To make your CV stand out to an employer, use power words that highlight what you can do. For CV writing, great power words include:

  • Collaborated
  • Directed
  • Executed
  • Accomplished
  • Acquired
  • Achieved
  • Created
  • Negotiated
  • Prepared
  • Produced
  • Undertook
  • Consulted
  • Conveyed
  • Illustrated

Words like these can show the hiring manager exactly what you can do and help differentiate you from other candidates.

DO: Include any hobbies that prove you are a great candidate

A hobby that includes relevant skills to the role you are applying for is a great thing to include in your CV; it shows you take an interest in things outside work and are a motivated/passionate individual. Some employers like to see some personality in a CV, so listing appropriate hobbies can help your CV to stand out from the rest.

DO: Keep all wording positive and clear

Your wording should be easy to read and positive throughout. This means you should only talk about your strengths and the good things you have achieved in your career. You may be asked about weaknesses in the interview stage, but you should not include these on your CV or cover letter. Your CV is your first opportunity to impress, so let the employer know why you are so great and why you would make a great addition to their team.

DO: Ensure your CV is within two pages

Your personal information, personal statement, work history and work achievements should all be kept within two pages; any more than this will take up too much of the employer’s time which they most likely don’t have spare. Ensure your CV is no longer than two pages so that the hiring manager can find out what they need to know about you in a short period of time.

The DONT’S of CV Creation

So you now know what you should be including in your CV, but here are the things you really should avoid if you want to make a good impression on a hiring manager.

DON’T: Include unnecessary information

When listing your contact information you should not include your age, nationality, sexual orientation or marital status. These details should not matter to the job you are applying for and will only use up valuable space on your CV. Remember that employers usually have limited time to go through all of the CVs they receive so only the most relevant details should be included.

DON’T: Include every single job you’ve ever had

Do not include every single job you’ve ever had on your CV as this will only waste the employer’s time and could even end up putting them off you altogether. Only include the most relevant work history to the role, starting for your latest suitable jobs to your oldest. For example, if you are applying for a role in Engineering you should not be mentioning the Sales Assistant job you had while studying at uni!

DON’T: Explain any gaps in history

Many candidates have gaps in their work history due to extenuating circumstances or for other reasons, but you should not explain gaps on your CV because it will only take up space. If the employer has noted the gaps in your history they may ask you about them during the interview, so make sure you have an answer prepared for them rather than going into detail beforehand.

DON’T: Use unprofessional contact details

This may seem like an obvious one but many job candidates do not realise that the email address they created years ago could hinder their chances of securing an interview. All of your contact details should be professional, usually including your full name, rather than a nickname or reference to a fictional character. Employers want to hire someone professional that they can count on and trust in the industry, so an unprofessional email or social media link could prevent you from securing your dream role.

DON’T: Mention anything about salary or finance

A CV should not mention anything to do with the job salary or your financial situation; these are discussed at a later date. When performing your job search the roles listed may include an idea of salary but this is usually negotiable once the employer has shown interest in you.

DON’T: Include a picture

CVs are a document for details around the skills relevant to the job descriptions and job title you are applying for. They should not include your picture unless you are asked specifically by the employer.

DON’T: Add reference details

Unnecessary references will take up too much valuable space on your curriculum vitae; instead, simply state that ‘references are available on request’ at the end of the document. This shows that you do have professional references and they can be accessed easily if asked.

Global Professional Consultants – The Leading Irish Consultancy

Here at Global Professional Consultants, we believe in forming long-lasting relationships with both job seekers and employers. We have the best candidate and employer network in the industry and offer tailor-made services to support your requirements. If you are searching for a job in Architecture, Civil & Structural Engineering, Mechanical & Electrical Engineering, Construction, Surveying & Project Management or Facilities Management get in touch with us today.

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