You know the feeling. You want to create a compelling CV that will shine light on your achievements and get your foot in the door for that next step in your career, but you don't know where to start.
You’d rather avoid the complexities of finessing your CV, and because of frustration or lack of know-how, you end up with a document that doesn't quite represent the best version of yourself that you'd intended to sell.
However, by understanding the purpose of a CV and what readers are looking for, in addition to following some basic content guidelines, you can create a compelling CV relatively easily.
Purpose: In a nutshell, the purpose of a CV is to get you an interview. To do this, the reader must be able to find out quickly and easily what you have done, where you have done it and over what period.
Recruiters and employers typically receive a large volume of responses - which they need to sort through - so your first objective is to pass their scanning exercise. By following these straightforward principles, you will increase your chances of making the short-list:
The key for content is to not overdo it. Prospective employers don't need to know everything about you and your past, only what's relevant for the job they're trying to fill so tailor your CV to fit those descriptions, requirements and experiences where applicable.
Include your name, address, contact number, email address and links to any online profiles you may have, such as LinkedIn.
Highlight your key characteristics and show that you align to the advertised role, that you’re willing to work productively and contribute valuable skills to the prospective company.
Include a summary chart at the front containing dates, previous employer names and positions held.
Put your work history in reverse chronological order. Focus on the last ten years or three to four roles as evidence that you have put into practice the skills that you say you have. Remember to put a brief description of the company you worked for to indicate size and turnover.
Include details of qualifications and relevant personal development activities.
Referees can be helpful for pre-interview checks, but it's up to you if you want to include them. Including "referees available on request" is somewhat redundant, so better to leave it out.
By understanding the purpose of a CV, what readers are looking for and sticking to some simple content guidelines, you can create a compelling CV relatively easily. Keeping it easy-to-read, succinct, informative, and most importantly relevant, is the key to landing that interview.