Improving your CV to land that career-boosting job

If you are currently out of employment you will know that trying to get a job is pretty hard work. Every position seems to have tens if not hundreds of other people applying for it too, meaning that you probably have to get through two or three interviews in order to be successful.

With the economy in a perilous position – recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the UK is fearful of entering a triple-dip recession following negative growth in the final quarter of 2012 – debt advice could well be needed if you do not impress the recruiters.

With this in mind it is important that you stand out from the rest of the crowd. With so many people applying for jobs, what makes you the best candidate for the role, and more importantly how can you show this to your prospective employers?

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to a CV, and no single perfect template will be appealing to every recruiter. However, it is very important that you highlight your competencies and concentrate on what the employer is actually looking for. In a perfect world, every time you apply for a new role you should be tweaking your CV and re-writing your cover letter. Make sure you have a standard CV saved on your computer which you can then make alterations to depending on the job that you are going for.

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Ensure you have the job specification open while you are writing your CV and try to address as many of the points as possible – do not leave the recruiter guessing as to your suitability for the role. You need to look at your CV as more of a sales pitch to the employer, with the personal statement at the top of the document opening up the process. Use this section to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Try to avoid generic skills – good organisation and time keeping should be a given if you are desperate to land a job.

Instead, focus on your professional qualifications and expertise and be confident in what you are saying – if you do not believe in your own ability then it is hard for someone else to do so.  When listing your employment start with the most recent jobs first. List the skills that you picked up in this role and try to link these to the ones asked for in the specification. While it is tempting to put down your whole history of employment, it is unlikely that a company will want to know about your time working in Safeway 12 years ago.

Make sure you put your qualifications on the front page of your CV, along with any other professional certificates and training courses that you might have achieved – these could help you stand out from the competition.

When it comes to making your CV look good, try to stick to two pages. With so many people applying for jobs, recruiters have a lot of CVs to look through, so getting straight to the point without waffling on will serve a good purpose.  Make sure that there are no mistakes in your CV. If you are going for a position which requires a ‘good eye for detail’ but your document is littered with mistakes then you are unlikely to be successful in your pursuit. Keep the formatting consistent throughout the CV, make sure paragraphs line up and that job titles are bolded up.

It is important to know what to leave off your CV too. There is no need to put down your references or reasons for leaving your last/current job. These can be discussed at interview, included in your cover letter or asked for at a later stage. In terms of salary, again it is best to discuss this at interview or tell the employer what your current wage is in your cover letter.

Hopefully that will help you at least get through to interview stage. Now it is important to stay relaxed, be yourself and think clearly and concisely. Make sure you answer the recruiter’s questions without going off track and where a suitable example is not to hand, use an analogy or experience from your previous employment.

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At all times, I’ve got a standard resume (one page, plus references) and a full-length CV (for when I apply for more academic or research-based jobs) up to date in my files. I’m always surprised at the number of people who don’t even KNOW what a CV is in the first place :)

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