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Don’t slip up with your CV

1 Jun 10

Corinne Mills, MD of Personal Career Management, discusses how to craft a CV for immediate competitive advantage and avoid common pitfalls

by Corinne Mills

A CV is the first (and, potentially, last ) opportunity for job applicants to make a positive impression on their would-be employer. Despite this, a recent survey of 450 CVs by my firm, Personal Career Management, found that 81 per cent had spelling or grammatical mistakes, while a further 13 per cent were presented poorly or lacked appropriate content.

At a recent event at the ICAS London office, I set out what are, in my view, six golden rules for ensuring that the perfect candidate does not fall at the first hurdle.

Research: find out as much as possible about the job and the employer’s requirements. Study advertisements, job descriptions, talk to recruiters or those who work in a similar role.

Match: use this information to demonstrate in your CV that you have the specific skills, experience and approach required. Ensure these key aspects are included within the first half page of your CV so the recruiter can quickly see your suitability.

Evidence: unsubstantiated claims will not work, so use real-world examples of how a particular skill or quality has been brought to bear in the past.

Language: avoid long sentences using the “I” pronoun, such as “I did this... I did that...” Instead, use bullet points, which will seem more dynamic. Use positive language and never include any criticisms of others, business setbacks or failures unless you were able to turn them around.

Professional presentation: the layout of a good CV must be consistent, attractive and easy to read. Avoid columns, tables, borders and unusual fonts, as these may not be compatible with recruitment software. All spelling and grammar needs to be checked thoroughly.

Other sources of help: check with someone you trust that your CV creates the desired impression. Also, remember that the CV is just part of the job search process – for anyone who is unsure about their next move, a conversation with a reputable career coach can help clarify that decision.

Corinne Mills is the author of You’re Hired! How to write a brilliant CV!, published by Trotman. For more information, visit www.personalcareer


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