CV Tips

1 General considerations

1.1 What is a CV for?

Remember your CV is a tool to get you to interview. It is not an application for the job itself. Neither is it an administrative form. Therefore there is no need for it to be exhaustive. It should be a concise document outlining your skills, achievements and interests. Your CV is a marketing document. Employers may not spend very long studying it, hence why it should be appealing, clear and accessible. Your CV additionally represents the first piece of work which you deliver for your future employer. It should summarize your education and experience whilst presenting it in a professional and elegant format.

1.2 Keep it short

Except very rare cases (i.e. long academic careers) your CV must not be longer than 1 page. If it is longer, take a second look. Aim to be more succinct in the description of your experiences; cut the old, the brief or the irrelevant. Don’t enumerate qualities in your CV: instead prove them by delivering a preeminent CV.

1.3 Be humble

A very common error is to overrate yourself in your CV (”3rd out of 300 candidates, I have been granted the prestigious scholarship...”). This makes your CV look arrogant and exaggerated. Aim to be strictly factual instead. If your CV is exceptional then this will appear without effort. If you feel that your CV is weak, overrating yourself will simply lead to embarrassment later on in the process. Be humble and realistic, these are themselves desirable qualities within a company.

1.4 The 3 stage reading process

The reader will first perceive your CV aesthetically. At the second stage the reader will briefly analyse your CV. He or she will attempt to identify your background and breadth of experience through the section heads: the universities which you attended and the companies which you have worked for. If your CV has passed the first 2 stages, it will be finally read in detail.

2 Personal information

2.1 Objective

Do not write an objective! Clarity in your CV should reveal who you are, whilst your application for the job demonstrates what you want.

2.2 Picture

Consider carefully the addition of a portrait to your CV. For some professions where presentation is an important aspect (ie. client orientated, communication based or sales roles), it is or ought be mandatory to include an image. However if you do not feel that you fit into these categories but still feel that a portrait may be of advantage to your application, you should consider its inclusion.

2.3 Address

Remember that it is unlikely that the company will ever use this address without confirming it. Therefore if your address is extremely long, shorten it to include merely basic information such as postcode, city and the name or number of your property.

2.4 Other personal information

Use this section to state crucial, practical information such as your notice period, nationality and your driving license.

3 Work experience & Education

In descriptions, we do not recommend using bulletpoints. It breaks the harmony of your CV. Write in complete and articulated sentences. You can choose to use a nominal style (”Wrote documents, helped with meetings” or ”Writing documents, helping with meetings”) or verbal style (”I have written documents, alongside helping with meetings”). Be consistent throughout your CV.

4 Additional skills

4.1 Languages & IT skills

Avoid mentioning languages in which you cannot support a conversation. These are of little use or interest to the employer. Do not overestimate your skill. Failing to communicate at interview in a language in which you have deemed yourself proficient is an easily avoidable embarrassment. Mention only languages in which you have intermediate level or better. Try to be consistent with your IT skills. Mention only IT skills that might be useful for the job you are applying for. Do not mention Microsoft Excel and Office if you are as well an expert in Java and C++. In general, avoid mentioning that you have a good command of Microsoft Windows, nowadays this is not a relevant skill.

4.2 Achievements

If possible, try to isolate and separate achievements which are related to the role for which you are applying for and those which are interest based and should therefore come under the Miscellaneous head (see below).

4.3 Miscellaneous

This section has the purpose of demonstrating to the employer that you have interests which are outside the scope of the position which you are applying for. Try to include interests which have a quantifiable vaalue. For example, avoid ”I like watching TV” or ”I like reading books.”
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