Here’s the secret to the perfect CV: it doesn’t exist. Each position will require something different, and each applicant will provide their own unique take on it. Still, here are some very helpful pointers to set you on the right track…
Your name, address, email, telephone, blog, Twitter handle, YouTube channel, bat signal…anything people can use to contact you. You are not required to provide your date of birth.
History and experience
Start with your most recent relevant experience and work backwards. Include your jobs, but think beyond that too. Anything that has had a significant impact on who you are now and what you are able to do – put it in. Detail precisely what you did, and what it has enabled you now to do. Be specific and succinct. Any skill you lay claim to should be backed up with a past example. Also include education – your most recent is most important. If there’s anything that’s particularly relevant (e.g. a dissertation or group project), briefly detail it and explain how you succeeded.
Hobbies and interests
Include interests and hobbies that show you are active with your spare time, and emphasise the skills you have learned from them. Remember: most people ‘listen to music.’ Be specific with any projects you have worked on, or expertise you have – passion and enthusiasm are important characteristics. Unusual or rare things tend to help paint an eye-catching picture of you too.
Entirely formal text tends to obliterate charm, so don’t be afraid to get creative with your language . However, make sure it’s grammatically correct or you won’t get a look in. Communication skills are one of the most valued employability skills, so if possible get another pair of eyes on your CV to proofread it.
Once you’ve written your CV, go back over everything with a cynical, negative eye and ask ‘so what?’ That’s what the employer will be asking – they only care about what’s relevant to them. This process is partly about what looks impressive by itself, but you also need to do some research. Find out about the company’s ethos, values, background, etc. Customise your CV to make it a match made in heaven. If there’s a single sentence that doesn’t help paint you as the best employee ever, scrap it.
Don’t let it stagnate
No two positions ar the same, so rewrite your CV for every person who sees it! Don’t be afraid to contact potential employers or big players in your field. Professionals appreciate that kind of initiative, and are keen to cultivate it.
CVs are changing…
In fact, they may be dead soon. You need to prepare for the changing status of employment, and show off your preparedness. Don’t settle for two sides of A4 in black and white. Think about different ways to present yourself – in a graphic design, a short film, a photography series, etc. This is especially relevant to the creative industries. Everything the employer looks at should be a reflection of your talents. don’t just tell them, show them! Proficiency with digital technology and social media is especially desirable. Check out our You, Online section for advice on curating an online presence.