CV and Resume – some essentials (part 1a)

At IYLC we have some specialist courses in how to create a CV, write great motivation letters and how to prepare for and achieve success in interviews. We go into great depth with each student understanding their strengths, how they operate and the weak-points they need to cover to bring up their game. There are several common CV formats, just Google it and you will get plenty, but nobody really wants a CV that is just a bland ‘straight-off-Net’ product.

It is a similar choice when you buy a box of chocolates, some essential details will make you choose one box and leave the other behind. You may say that in case of chocolate it’s all about marketing and therefore you buy based on your personal preferences. And I agree, it is partly about marketing, but so is your resume; your CV is a document that will promote you as a product and the potential employer is going to be making the buying decision.

Your CV has to be resilient enough to withstand several critical tests including the keyword software match, the 20-second human scan and the more profound, in-depth reading given to those on the short-list of ‘maybes’. So, how can you really score and stand out? In this first post we share with you some essentials that should help you on your way to securing your dream job!

Who are they really looking for – do your homework!

First of all, understand who they are looking for. Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager & HR specialist who put together that job description. Read it carefully, they chose those words with care. Also read between the lines; what can you infer from the job description? Before finalising your general CV for that specific job, you should also read about the company and talk to anyone from your network from this company. Understanding who they are, what the corporate culture is like, what the work-ethic is like, knowing what skills and attributes are valued by that company will help you adapt your CV correctly.

Doing your background research will also help you understand whether you will honestly fit in; if you like autonomy and creativity, you might not thrive in a strongly structured and compliant organisation. But in many cases companies operating in certain industries are obliged to operate strongly compliant processes, such as the food or pharmaceutical industries. Equally, you can maybe read, ‘fast paced environment’ to mean,‘badly organised’, so don’t go in there expecting an employee handbook and desk instructions!

Start at the top & keep to the point 

It might sound basic, but people tend to read from the top of a piece of paper, so make sure that your strongest selling points are on the first page and near the top. I don’t want to read about your primary school aged seven before I see that you have an MBA! In fact, once you have any sort of degree, your earlier schooling is no longer any interest and should be dropped from the CV. Try to get all of your key points onto the first page. But equally find a balance so you don’t loose key details that will gives your CV credibility.

All the way through, think about why the employer should choose ‘you’.

The profile summary or objective line.

Make a good impression right from the top, for the 20-second scan your CV has to deliver a punchy elevator pitch. This can be one or two powerful sentences that summarise your key strengths & experience; or, if this is your first job, an objective line about what you are looking for. Make sure not to use too many self-congratulatory adjectives; every candidate on earth is a ‘highly-motivated’, ‘‘team-player’ with ‘excellent communication skills’ who is looking for a ‘challenging’ new environment; please go beyond these and all the other clichés, as hiring managers we see them so often that they irritate rather than come across as credible descriptions.

This should give you a head start to work on your CV. Keep your eyes open for further tips from IYLC over the next few days in part two of our CV and Resume blog post series.