How to Put Together a Great CV

A good CV is the first impression a potential employer has of you so it is critical that it captures their attention straight away. Employers spend on average less than 10 seconds scanning a CV so you need to ensure that yours creates a quick, lasting impression.

Some frequently asked questions around putting together a good CV…

Q: What should I put in my personal profile?
A: Always your name, address and contact numbers. Age is usually irrelevant, there are very few jobs that have age limits. Remember that employers and advertisers are bound by discrimination legislation so if an advertisement asks for your age and you feel it is irrelevant, then don’t hesitate to query why. Unless you are going for a sales position or one that specifically requires a car, full clean driving license is also irrelevant. Do not send a photo of yourself unless you are an actor or a model and certainly don’t include personal statistics ie marital status, medical status or weight (it has been done!). It is also useful to include a few descriptive words about yourself, which describes your working style, for example, good team player, pro-active, proven leadership skills etc, but always make sure you can back up these claims with examples if requested.

Q: What should come first, education or work history?
A: There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Some people like to see education first, particularly for jobs that specifically ask for degree, MBA etc. Others like to see what experience a person has first. Do what you’re comfortable with, remember you will have to talk through your CV so if you are more comfortable talking about your work experience then start with that as it will help you to ‘warm up’ in the interview.

Q: Should I put all my qualifications in, from junior cert on?
A: If this CV is for your first job, yes. If not, no. Put your highest first, ie degree. There is no need to list junior cert and leaving cert results, just the overall grade. Also include any other qualifications you might have, CIPD, ACCA, for example.

Q: Do I list out what I do every day in my job?
A: No. You should write out a description of the role and then list your achievements within that role, and be able to quantify them. For example if you are a sales person, then you could highlight that you consistently went over target by 12%, or you increased sales in your area by 5% within a 12 month period. Again, make sure that you can back this up if questioned about it.

Q: How many pages should I be looking at?
A: 2 maximum. Don’t try to squash onto 1 page and don’t spread it out to make 2 pages. If this is your first position, or you have been with the same employer for a number of years, it is likely that you can only fill one page, this will be evident to potential employers read it. If you have been working for a number of years in different companies or industries, try to highlight the more relevant positions and summarise irrelevant positions at the end. Employers will look for time gaps in CV’s so make sure your dates are right.

Q: Should I send a covering letter?
A: You should always send a covering letter (unless you are applying through a website where it is not possible). These are advantageous in that they can target specific people or industries or highlight particular interests. A good covering letter when applying for unadvertised jobs makes a big difference and could get you a job, even if the company were not necessarily looking.

Q: Should I mention what salary I am on now?
A: NEVER. Wait to be asked and then don’t lie (well, not too much), they will see your previous salary from your P45!

And finally, always remember that your CV is an extension of you, have some pride in it. Don’t send it out into cyberspace or en masse to agencies, it won’t have any impact. Try and find out as much about the job before you send it, find out what the employer is looking for and try to make sure your CV reflects that as much as possible (without lying! we always find out!!!) and remember that a CV is a work in progress, change it if your objectives change. Your CV won’t get you the job, but it is the first step.

For more information, please contact us at +353 (0) 87 9178717 or see our webpage http://www.spencerhuntconsulting.com

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