Building a CV

A Curriculum Vitae is a self-marketing tool that should present your knowledge, learning, skills and competencies in a positive, honest way. Your CV is your chance to show a prospective employer you possess the necessary adroitness and experience required; and that you are the ideal candidate for the vacancy in question.

Moreover, the way your CV is presented can have an overwhelming influence over whether your CV is even looked at by potential employers, let alone getting you that all important interview for your dream job. So it’s imperative you consider how good your CV actually is in order to make it stand out from all the others.

 Here are some key points to consider in creating a successful CV;

  • Include your personal details – name, address, phone number and email. Do not however include your age or a photograph unless specifically asked to do so.
  • List employment history and academia qualifications with most recent achievements first.
  • Ensure that the length of your CV is relative to your work experience: So you can justify a lengthy CV if you have many years of experience in a wide range of roles.
  • Try to avoid using jargon or specialist terminology as best you can. Keep your writing clear, direct and focused. Remember that the person looking at your CV may not be an expert in your chosen field.
  • Try to write your CV using as few words as possible – thus ensuring you’ll keep to the point and avoid waffling. There’s no need to go into depth in a CV, use a covering letter if you can.
  • Make use of verbs such as ‘synthesised’ or ‘organised’. This makes you sound active and progressive rather than passive and robotic.
  • Avoid the use of personal statements, YOUR CV is designed to present facts. Its role is twofold: to get you short-listed and to provide talking points for the interview. Keep your personal statements until the interview, where you will be able to use them most effectively.
  • Don’t mention your social life unless your hobbies can demonstrate important or desirable expertise (such as list of skills mentioned in the; What do employers want section).
  • Include the addresses of two referees; one should preferably be of your current employer, whereas the other could be of your lecturers/mentors etc.
  • Do not forget to proofread your CV. Check for spelling, punctuation or grammar errors; unprofessional CVs are rejected.
  • Once you have finished it, show it to as many people as possible. Their first impressions will help you improve your CV.

 Finally… 

MJB ‘You’re Hired!’

MJB ‘You’re Fired’

  • Ensure that your CV is moulded around the wants of your potential employer. Look at the job advert or specification and consider what the job involves, and what the employer needs.·  Ensure your CV is clear, concise and uncluttered. Use grammar and spell check on your word processor. Avoid overloading your CV with excessive information. Your CV should be easy to read. Allow space between each section. Finally make use of left-justified text on your word processor as it’s the accepted and expected format but also the easiest to read. Print of your CV using black text on good quality white paper.· Ensure you reference your experiences (good and bad) in a positive light. Objectify and summarise all your experiences and identify what you learned or what skills you developed in the process.
  • Make use of positive lexicon when describing your work achievements use power words such as the examples found in ‘The list of  positive words’ compiled by Bob Hitchings (see link below)
  • Reference tangible outcomes to support your claims. For example, ‘The results from my In-silico model proved my hypothesis was correct ‘spread of HAIs decreased as patient contact was reduced’ or ‘This revolutionized the use of single bed wards in ICUs around the hospital and dramatically reduced cases of HAI by 33%’.
  • Finally take inspiration from the web and sample CV templates
  • Avoid ostentatious and outdated fonts when typing your CV on your word processor. Also ensure the font size isn’t too small or too big. The most common size that job-seekers use are between 10 to 12 points.
  • Avoid the inclusion of any information that can give the employer an opportunity to discard your application at this initial stage; this includes; financial woes; marital issues, failure in academia etc.  · Continuing on from our last point, be selective of what information you choose to share, Yes, but including a few white lies is a massive no go! Employers ensure they screen and obtain in depth references before making an offer of employment, so if you think you can get away with including a few white lies think again. In fact the government’s Fraud Prevention Unit recently sentenced a young graduate to jail for 12 weeks for lying about academic qualifications. You have been warned!
  • There’s no absolute rule to how long a CV should be however we at MJB advise that your CV is no longer than two pages long. Why? Quite simply in today’s congested and competitive market employers receive an inundated amount of CVs and plainly if your CV is more than two pages long, regardless of how perfect you are for the role, your CV is likely to be totally ignored and thus rejected by the employer.  With that being said do not leave out any information which you feel is important, just avoid the unnecessary excessive information.

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