Ten Keys to a Dynamite CV

Employers prefer crisp-looking CVs that get to the point. Blue can provide you with examples and templates to help you improve both the style and content of your CV. To help you construct a better, more powerful CV, here are ten points to consider related to both content and presentation:

  1. Position title and job description. Provide your title, plus a detailed explanation of your responsibilities and achievements. Since job titles are often misleading or their function may vary from one company to another, your CV should tell the reader exactly what you’ve done. Quantify your duties, reporting relationships and highlight your achievements with actual numbers or percentages if possible. Please be accurate and honest. Misrepresenting your experience, or education, is unethical, and can result in immediate dismissal in some cases.
  2. Clear dates. Document your work history and educational credentials accurately. Don’t leave the reader guessing when you were employed, or when you earned your degree. Make sure the dates are clear and without gaps. If you’re a mid- to late-career candidate, you can save space by grouping early-career jobs together.
  3. Clear employer information. Tell the reader the nature, size and location of your past employers. Say what their business is, especially if they are unlikely to be familiar with the organisation.
  4. Detail. Specify some of the more technical, or involved aspects of your past work or training, especially if you’ve performed tasks of complexity or significance.
  5. Proportion. Give appropriate attention to jobs or educational credentials according to their length, or importance to the reader. For example, if you wish to be considered for a business development position, don’t write one paragraph describing your current business development role, followed by three paragraphs about your voluntary work for a local charity.
  6. Relevance. Confine your information to that which is job-related or clearly demonstrates a pattern of success. Concentrate only on subject matter that addresses the needs of the employer. Remember to read through the job description of the role you are applying for to help you focus on relevant information.
  7. Length. Fill up two pages (three maximum – if you have an extensive work history). If you write more than three pages, it sends a signal to the reader that you can’t organise your thoughts, or you’re trying too hard to make a good impression. If your content is strong, you won’t need more than two pages.
  8. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Create an error-free document that’s representative of an educated person. If you’re unsure about the accuracy of your writing or grammar get it checked before sending your application. Remember that you only get one chance to make a good impression.
  9. Readability. Organise your thoughts in a clear, concise manner. No CV ever won a prize for literature but a fragmented or long-winded CV will virtually assure you of a place at the back of the line. Add interest and clarity by using bullets, indents and careful use of bold and italic letters to consistently highlight headings and subheadings.
  10. Fonts and colours. Be sure to select a conventional type style, such as Times New Roman or Arial, with text in black on a light, neutral background. Avoid using unconventional fonts or adding photos or graphic images. If your CV takes too much effort to read, it may end up in the bin, even if you have terrific skills.

Finally, I suggest you write several drafts and allow yourself time to review your CV and proofread for errors. If you have a professional associate whose opinion you trust, by all means, listen to what he or she has to say. A simple critique can make the difference between an interview and a rejection.

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