How to Produce an Interview Winning CV
When it comes to your CV, seconds count. You have less than 30 seconds to impress and make the leap to the ‘maybe’ pile. Daunting stuff, eh? Especially when, as a graduate or school leaver, your years of hard slog suddenly look a little skimpy down on paper. But it’s all a matter of selling your strengths.
A polished, professional description of your work experience, education and skills will give you the edge over the dozens of other qualified applicants and get your foot in the interview room door.
It’s the most important document you’ll produce through your career, so make sure your CV stands out with a few simple rules.
Beware bad formatting, spelling and grammar
There’s no single, perfect layout but great CVs have a few things in common. They:
- Cover no more than two sides of A4 and are created in Word.
- Avoid borders, colours, images, novelty paper and cartoon fonts like Comic Sans. Arial, Verdana or Tahoma in font size 10 or 11 works best.
- Use headings, bullet points and short paragraphs to make it easy for recruiters and employers to scan.
- Open with your best bits and list the most recent educational details and roles first, explaining any gaps.
- Display impeccable spelling and grammar. Don’t miss your big break because of a misspelled word. Check everything meticulously before you click ‘send’.
Go on, sell yourself
Keep your layout clear and concise and include the following:
- Contact details
- Personal statement
- Key achievements and skills
Even if you’re just starting out, you’ve already racked up a wealth of experience through school or uni projects, hobbies and extra-curricular activities. List the skills you’ve developed as a result. For example:
- Project & budget management: Treasurer of University Student Union
- Commitment: Completed Duke of Edinburgh Award
- IT skills: Fully proficient in Dreamweaver & Photoshop while very strong with HTML
How have your past skills and experiences prepared you for this role?
Include voluntary, work experience and temporary roles, focusing on results, rather than daily duties. What did you achieve? How did you make a difference? For example:
- Responsible for coordinating the production of company weekly newsletter to 70,000 recipients
- Implemented a new company filing system improving organisational efficiency
- Delivered excellent customer service, achieving on average 115% call targets
If you’ve earned a dazzling degree, place it centre stage at the beginning of your CV. If your work history is more impressive, lead with that instead.
Hobbies and interests
Only include these if they’re relevant to the role.
Target and tailor
Every role has unique requirements, so sending out a one-size-fits-all CV just won’t work. With each application, review your experience – from Saturday jobs and school projects to that summer internship – and tweak your work history to prove you’re the perfect fit. The closer your skills match the job description, the closer you are to getting the job. Put the odds in your favour by creating two or three tailored versions of your resume.
- Highlight different skills and experience on each. For example, a retail candidate might have at the ready sales, supervisor and customer services CVs.
- Remember to upload all your versions when using online jobsites to cast your net as widely as possible.