Monday 18 November 2013

Tips for a Great CV

The letters CV are an acronym for a Latin phrase, ‘Curriculum Vitae’, meaning ‘the course of your life’. When contacting US firms, it's advisable to use the word "resume" rather than CV. In the US, CV refers to a resume for the scientific or educational fields.

Your CV is essentially a list of your achievements. In preparing a CV, it requires you to review all that you've done so far. By creating and reviewing your ‘key achievements’, it will reveal your strengths to a would-be employer. It also prepares you for interviews. Thus, think about your past jobs, extracurricular activities and any volunteer work by asking:
  • What can I do better than anyone else?
  • When did I take the initiative?
  • Was I promoted? How often?
  • Did I win awards, e.g., Employee of the Month?
  • Did I get good performance or quarterly reviews?
  • Have I received complimentary letters from customers or colleagues?
  • Have I produced anything tangible (e.g., a publication or product)?
  • Did I complete tasks in less time than expected?
  • Did I participate in my company's employee suggestion program?
  • Have I saved the company time or money?
  • Did I work with someone important, e.g., the CEO? Was I recognized for excellent attendance?
Simple Tips

Grab an employer’s attention with a hand addressed envelope. The last time a hand addressed envelope landed on your door mat, was it the first to be opened? I bet it was; ahead of all the other bills, letters and mailing pieces. Genuine handwriting is a rare and precious find in most letter boxes, which makes it a wildly effective marketing tool when distributing your CV.

Use white space and formatting to make your CV easy to read. I had someone say to me once "Let your CV breathe visually" meaning, don't try to squeeze everything onto one page.
Adding references to your CV is always a good idea. It shows forward planning and confidence that others will endorse you. But don't forget to ask the people if they are willing to serve as referees before you give their names to a potential employer! If not specifically asked for, it can be acceptable to state ‘References available upon request’.

Check for TYPOS and inappropriate phrases. You may have a degree, but if the course name is spelled incorrectly you really aren't making the most of your education. In some cases, applicants' attempts to impress potential employers failed through the odd missed word, with phrases such as "I was responsible for dissatisfied customers”, “I get well with all types of people”, “I was responsible for fraudulent claims”, “Highly adept at multi-tasting” and “Left last four jobs only because the managers were completely unreasonable”.
Don’t get carried away with CAPITALISATION. Job titles, names and places, companies and the first word of every sentence should start with a capital letter. NOT EVERY LETTER! You may as well hand write your CV with a crayon.

Newest stuff should always go at the top.
Lying on a CV is never a good idea for jobseekers, it has been claimed. The Write Stuff has highlighted that people looking for employment cannot be held legally liable for any embellishments on their CV because it is not a legal document. However, if they are discovered to be lying on their CV it can greatly affect their future job prospects and is therefore strongly advised against.

Peter Panayotou, senior consultant for The Write Stuff, said: "You should be aware that a CV is a sales document and is designed to cast you in the best possible light, but you should try to avoid outright lying." He added that honesty is always the best policy. The Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors has discovered that 55 per cent of people do not feel that their CV properly shows off their full range of skills.
More than 30 per cent of people admit to having embellished or lied on CVs to boost their chances of getting a job, a FT survey from a government institute suggested. The news that resum├ęs may indeed be too good to be true prompted disapproval and some disbelief among experts and business leaders, mixed with sympathy for candidates who accentuate the positive without crossing the line into outright lying.

ed. Lesson to be learned - Never lie. Never, ever. Lies always come back and bite you on the bum. It's a small industry, and everybody knows somebody. Anyway, it’s not about lying; it’s about presenting the truth in the most positive way.
9 things that really matter when employers look at a CV:
  1. A strong area of expertise with solid experience to back it up.
  2. Relevant industry experience that includes a solid track record of success.
  3. Leadership experience (if applicable).
  4. A strong, succinct summary paragraph of one's professional experience.
  5. Education credentials; where did you go to school and how you did when they were there.
  6. An effective, well-organized CV that allows one to quickly skim and review the candidate's suitability.
  7. Quantifiable accomplishments; results that show how you contributed to the bottom line.
  8. Relevant technical and business skills such as certifications.
  9. Tenure at a company. Job hopping is usually frowned upon. Rather than a bulleted list of duties, summarize job descriptions with a focus on measurable results.
Association of International Product Marketing & Management (AIPMM) can also help you land your dream job. Hiring is turning around so if you've been thinking about a new job now is the time to get serious. Here's how you can stand out from the crowd.

Make sure your resume is current, proofread and has two or three powerful summary statements at the top of the first page.
Know your 60-second elevator pitch and rehearse it so it becomes second nature.

Reconnect with your support network. Meet with them and new contacts on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Focus your search using websites that cater to the jobs you’re looking for and upload your resume to them. Employers increasingly search resume banks to find talent.
Any job application should reflect the needs of the organisation as described in the advert or on its website; skills, qualifications and interests should be listed in order of how appropriate they are for the role.

Most employers check dates when they go through CVs. They would be suspicious of any break that is unaccounted for. But if you've taken a few dodgy detours through life and learning, all is not lost. Employers are looking for an explicit path through education and employment. If this is missing make sure you explain what was happening during that time. Reassure a potential employer that you were gaining knowledge, developing skills and generally making yourself super-efficient.
Have you spoken with (ie. sold yourself to) someone at the recruitment firm before sending them your CV, so that they are on the lookout for your application in their inbox?

...If you do send a paper CV by email, make sure you save it as a pdf first - you never know how a Word document is going to print out and it could get altered when it’s opened.
Final tip: when you get the pdf ready, you might also want to add hyperlinks for your email address, websites, online stories and blog address so your prospective employer can click through from the pdf when they open it.

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