Looking for a job or just dipping your toe in the market? Ensure your CV is up to scratch with our ten top tips.
- Is there a standard format/layout I should stick to, e.g. contact details, education, work experience, interests & achievements and referees? What about font type and size as well?
- Should I include copies of certificates, written references and awards with my application? Should I include my photo on my CV?
- Should I have a personal statement at the start of my CV?
- Everyone says your CV shouldn't be longer than 2 pages - but I have a lot of experience and it tends to be 3 - is that acceptable?
- How do I address the employment gap in my CV?
- Should I focus more on my qualifications or my work experience?
- How you get a job when you are qualified but have limited experience?
- Should I have one CV or tailor each CV to the job I am applying to?
- What is the best way to show that I am on LinkedIn etc on my CV? What should I be including? Is an online CV a good idea?
- Any tips on how to get past CV gatekeepers (agency or firms)?
Here at RecruitIreland.com we’ve been running an exciting series of Live@Lunchtime live online Q&A sessions with industry experts in the field of career coaching.
The second in our series took place on September 13, 2012 hosted by our friends in the Irish Examiner and Breakingnews.ie and dealt with the topic ‘Creating a Winning CV’
In the hot seat for the hour-long session was Paul Mullan from Measurability Ireland, a regular contributor to our RecruitIreland.com newsletter and a consultant with vast experience in HR, Career Coaching, Interview Coaching, CV writing, Recruitment, Psychometric Testing and Outplacement Services in the UK and Ireland.
We had a great response from our readers with some evergreen questions being thrown into the mix (what font?) as well as a couple of curveballs – no surprise in a competitive and quickly-changing careers marketplace (is an online CV a good idea?)
We’ve condensed the live event into 10 of the best questions and answers below. We hope you enjoy and stay tuned – via Facebook or Twitter - for details of the next RecruitIreland.com Live@Lunchtime sessions.
LIVE @ LUNCHTIME WITH PAUL MULLAN – CREATING A WINNING CV
1. Is there a standard format/layout I should stick to, e.g.: contact details, education, work experience, interests & achievements and referees? What about font type and size as well?
(asked by Anne/Seanie B)
Paul Mullan: You have highlighted the typical information that will be communicated on a CV. A CV should be a fluid marketing document - the order of this information may change.
The important thing to remember is to get key info to the reader as quickly as possible. Keep the document clean and simple. This way recruiters and employers can find relevant information quicker.
With regard to fonts and formatting - I recommend font size 11 or 12. Anything less is cheating!! Normally people shrink the font size to fit CV into 2 pages. I like “Calibri” font style. Other common fonts include “Arial” and “Times New Roman".
2. Should I include copies of certificates, written references and awards with my application?
(asked by Liam C/Damien)
PM: Include these documents when instructed. If a company doesn't specify then I wouldn’t include them.
Generally an employer won’t be that interested in this info at CV-sifting stage. Having said all this, I don’t think it will go against you if you want to include them.
As for including a photo - it's not the norm in Ireland. Obviously if it asks you to, then do it. Adding a photo generally won't offend but make sure the photo is professional!
3. Should I have a personal statement at the start of my CV?
(asked by Lee)
PM: I'd include a value statement = show how you add value!! Avoid telling the employer what you want and focus on what you bring!! Make it 4/5 one-line bullet points max!!
4. Everyone says your CV shouldn't be longer than 2 pages - but I have a lot of experience and it tends to be 3 - is that acceptable?
(asked by John Murray)
PM: Try to limit your CV to 2 pages. Ask yourself if all the current content is relevant. It’s not the end of the world if it goes into the 3rd page.
REMEMBER - employers will only spend 20-30 seconds reviewing your CV so it’s far more important to focus on getting the key information onto the first page!
If your CV is too long a simple tip is to look at your early career roles and cut back here.
5. How do I address the employment gap in my CV? I have been at home with the kids for the last 3 years...
(asked by Anne)
PM: I would normally try to explain any gaps on a CV by simply outlining dates and a short explanation for the gap. You don’t want to the employer to make the wrong conclusions.
Sometimes job seekers worry too much about gaps. They are quite common on many CVs and are often easily explained – travel, career breaks or return to training/education, etc.
Check out this article: New world of job search for parents returning to work
6. Should I focus more on my qualifications or my work experience?
(asked by Mary)
PM: It will depend on your personal circumstances. Graduates will place more emphasis on qualifications because many lack work experience. Career changers will place more emphasis on newly-acquired qualifications. Experienced professionals will place more emphasis on work experience and just list qualifications.
7. How do you get a job when you are qualified but have limited experience?
(asked by Paul K)
PM: Target graduate or junior roles that require limited work experience. Try to get some relevant experience; even if it’s unpaid or voluntary (this may make you more attractive to potential employers). Use your network to get a foot in the door. Remember many jobs are not advertised.
Check out this Graduate Career Advice Video from Sigmar Recruitment.
8. Should I have one CV or tailor each CV to the job I am applying to?
(asked by Ana Maria)
PM: You can have a master CV document BUT you should tailor this document for every application. It’s more work BUT will ensure you make the strongest possible application. The job spec will help you tailor your CV.
9. What is the best way to show that I am on LinkedIn etc on my CV? What should I be including? Is an online CV a good idea?
(asked by Barry)
PM: Put the LinkedIn URL at top of your CV. Make sure to customise your link though. I prefer LinkedIn profiles to be quite targeted. If you promote yourself as a career coach, a musician and a dentist – who will contact you? You need to decide what are the key skills/roles you want to target.
In relation to getting people to your LinkedIn profile - here is my short video tutorial youtu.be
10. Any tips on how to get past CV gatekeepers (agency or firms)?
(asked by Tony London)
PM: I’d always try to warm up the call. Use your professional network to identify people you know working in the target company, or suppliers or customers. Linkedin is a great tool to help you here. By making an approach through a third party you’ll probably be received better. There is a great chrome plug-in (app) that may help, it's called www.whoworks.at. It uses LinkedIn to show you a list of the employees of the company website you are on that you may be connected to.
Thanks to all for taking part in the second of our Live@Lunchtime series and best of luck in creating your winning CV.
For more CV, job-hunting and careers advice check out the RecruitIreland.com Career Centre as well as Paul’s own website. You can allow check out Paul’s YouTube channel for tutorial videos, or follow him on Twitter at @paulmullan74