Updating your CV if you haven’t done it for a long time can be daunting and confusing. If you haven’t needed one for ages it can be really hard knowing how to start. These are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Use a template. Whichever word processor you prefer provides a set of well designed templates that do the job for you. Unless otherwise stated in a job advertisement Microsoft Office is the most universally accepted format, however Google Docs and Open Office are two free online word processors that are compatible with Office software so a CV written any of those formats can be read by users of Office. Documents written in Apple Pages can be saved and transmitted as Word files.
  2. Research the most appropriate format for the industry you wish to enter. Don’t try to be too creative unless you are applying for a specific position that expects it.
  3. Keep it as simple as possible, with as much detail as is necessary to present yourself well, and no more.
  4. Generally speaking it is better to present your most recent education and experience first because it is most likely the most relevant.
  5. You won’t need to include a photo or video files unless it is required specifically for your particulate industry.
  6. Use your basic CV as a master file and tailor it for individual job applications. Definitely do not print out several copies and distribute them indiscriminately to lots of different places. It’s almost impossible to get an interview from this approach.
  7. Make sure that you find out as much as you can about the industry you are wanting to enter as well as researching the specific employer. There can be considerable variation between each. You will earn extra points for familiarising yourself with the prospective employer and demonstrating how your skills match their requirements and work culture.
  8. If you are responding to a published advertisement take note of the keywords used and replicate them in your application. For example if the advertisements requires applicants with good customer service skills do not write about your superior people skills. Use the same words as the advertisement. Online applications will be screened by software that looks for those terms. Do not assume that the employer knows what you do. Ignore it at your peril. Lynne discovered this the hard way. She is very good at her job and was encouraged to apply for a more senior position in the same company in which she works. Her CV did not get her the job, much less an interview because she assumed that because her employer knew her well it would be sufficient to include useful information they didn’t already know about her. Her employer later expressed disappointment that they were not able to offer the job, simply because her application did not address the key requirements of the advertised position.
  9. If you possess the skills required quote an example that demonstrates your ability; what is it you do, how you do it and what is the outcome. For example you organise your work by writing a list of prioritised tasks at the end of each day so you know exactly what you need to do and when, you work methodically through your list, and you can be depended on to have your work done before deadlines.

These tips are general, I hope you find them useful. It is vital that you find out specifically what you need for every job application. The important thing is to keep at it; each application you write and submit polishes your CV writing skills and gets you closer and closer to the job you want that also wants you.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

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