CV Writing Tips
When applying for a new job, first impression is crucially important. In most cases, the first impression is your CV. If your CV is designed correctly, it sells your qualifications, skills and achievements to a potential employer and informs them of your employment history.
A good CV gives a potential employer a snapshot of you, your experience and relevant skills, leaving them curious and wanting to know more about you and what you could bring to their organisation at interview stage. Your CV should be:
- Easy to read.
- Relevant to the position for which you are applying.
Suggested CV Structure
1. Personal Details
Name, address, contact details. There is no obligation to put in details such as marital status, date of birth although you can if you wish.
2. Personal profile
A brief description of you in 4-5 lines.
Start with a personal bio that reflects you and what you have to offer. It should showcase your relevant experience & competencies. It should be told in your voice and should not use industry jargon. This is a good opportunity to capture the reader’s attention and encourage them to keep reading your CV.
3. Career to date
Feature your company, your role title and the exact period of time you worked there. We recommend you highlight your top three to four areas of responsibility in your past positions and then highlight beneath them your key achievements in each position. Give more weight to your recent experience & achievements.
- Highlight the key areas of responsibility in each of your roles
- Separating out your achievements will help them stand out to the reader, who may have to read numerous CVs to determine a short list. Your achievements should be very commercial, very results-oriented. How did you make a difference? Achievements should be factual, measurable and quantifiable. Demonstrate how you drove market share, sales volume or value, profit.
- Bring out what you owned in your role, what you were responsible for and where you added value.
- It can be useful to provide top line information on your company, without divulging confidential information.
- Your CV should demonstrate career progression where possible.
4. Key skills
Again this section should be as relevant to the role you are applying for as possible but it is useful to highlight skills, particularly when moving sectors or changing jobs. Some examples include:
- Strategy Development/Implementation
- Product Development/Road Maps/Launches/ International Marketing/Global Sales
- Team Management/Development
- High Level Communication Skills
- Negotiation skills
- Relationship building skills
Start with your most recent qualification first. Again, keep it succinct and there is no need to include your Leaving Cert results! You should include relevant skills gained throughout your career including company training courses etc.
6. Special interests
This is the part of your CV where you can give potential employers an indication of who you are. Keep these succinct and ideally relevant, showing skills required for the particular role e.g. Teamwork, by showing you play sport for a local club.
You are not required to include details of references, however you should make note at the bottom of your CV that references are available upon request. You should have at least two referees on standby should they need to be contacted.
If you are successful in securing an interview, these following tips might help you in preparing for the interview. From experience, the more you prepare for interviews, the better they go.
Practice good nonverbal communication
It’s about demonstrating confidence: standing straight, making eye contact and connecting with a firm handshake. That first nonverbal impression can be a great beginning—or quick ending—to your interview.
Dress for the job or company
Today’s casual dress codes do not give you permission to dress as “they” do when you interview. It is important to know what to wear to an interview and to be well-groomed. Whether you wear a suit or something less formal depends on the company culture and the position you are seeking. If possible, call to find out about the company dress code before the interview. If in doubt – always go suited and booted.
From the very beginning of the interview, your interviewer is giving you information, either directly or indirectly. If you are not hearing it, you are missing a major opportunity. Good communication skills include listening and letting the person know you heard what was said. Observe your interviewer, and match that style and pace.
Don't talk too much
Telling the interviewer more than he needs to know could be a fatal mistake. When you have not prepared ahead of time, you may ramble when answering interview questions, sometimes talking yourself right out of the job. Prepare for the interview by reading through the job posting, matching your skills with the position’s requirements and relating only that information.
Don't be too familiar
The interview is a professional meeting to talk business. This is not about making a new friend. Your level of familiarity should mimic the interviewer’s demeanour. It is important to bring energy and enthusiasm to the interview and to ask questions, but do not overstep your place as a candidate looking for a job.
Use appropriate language
It’s a given that you should use professional language during the interview. Be aware of any inappropriate slang words or references to age, race, religion, politics, or sexual orientation—these topics could send you out the door very quickly.
Don't be cocky
Attitude plays a key role in your interview success. There is a fine balance between confidence, professionalism, and modesty. Even if you’re putting on a performance to demonstrate your ability, overconfidence is as bad, if not worse, as being too reserved.
Take care to answer the questions
When interviewers ask for an example of a time when you did something, they are asking behavioural interview questions, which are designed to elicit a sample of your past behaviour. If you fail to relate a specific example, you not only don’t answer the question, but you also miss an opportunity to prove your ability and talk about your skills.
When asked if they have any questions, most candidates answer, “No.” Wrong answer. Part of knowing how to interview is being ready to ask questions that demonstrate an interest in what goes on in the company. Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you. The best questions come from listening to what you’re asked during the interview and asking for additional information.
Don't appear desperate
When you interview with the “please, please hire me” approach, you appear desperate and less confident. Reflect the three Cs during the interview: cool, calm, and confident.
Bonus tip: Work on your answers
You know you can do the job; make sure the interviewer believes you can, too. One way to do this is by preparing well-thought-out answers to questions they’re most likely to ask.
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