Preparing your CV
A CV is a factual record of your career and personal circumstances presenting what you have to offer.
It should highlight your achievements and successes in a logical and well-presented way.
Stay focused and concentrate on promoting your best skills and achievements, rather than just reciting your Job Description.
Begin with the vital contact details:
- Name, address and telephone numbers and email address.
- Academic qualifications
- Accredited training and courses - relevant to the potential role
- Languages - stating whether conversational, intermediate, fluent or mother tongue
- Driving licence details
A brief synopsis of you! Highlighting your strengths and achievements. This brief statement will create the reader's initial impression of you and whether you can fulfil their resourcing need. But be prepared to have great examples of any descriptive words you use...if you say you are "dynamic" then where is the evidence?
- We recommend arranging your CV chronologically, with your most recent experience first
- Clearly state the name of the employer, job title, dates of employment, what the job entailed and more importantly, what you achieved in the role
- Where possible show achievement through direct examples and figures (e.g. % increases) or numbers showing size and scope of the role (e.g. team of 400)
- Ensure you explain any gaps in your career
Potential employers will be particularly interested in any activities where you have shown leadership or taken personal responsibility for key projects.
Your fit within the culture of any new business is critical, so you need to present your true value set.
There is no need to put references on your CV.
- Always type your application and use one clear font for your CV
- Take care over the grammar and spelling
- Don't use too many boxes - many people will be scanning your CV into a Database and boxes can cause problems
- It is useful to present your career responsibilities and achievements using stand out bullet points
- Be prepared to adapt your material for each application
- Don't assume that everyone will know what your previous employers do, so give a brief one sentence explanation with figure work (e.g. "Manufacturer of chilled sauces for Tesco and M&S with a £45m turnover and 200 people")
A two-page CV
Whilst we understand why employers request this - the sole purpose of saving time - our philosophy is slightly different.
Yes, a two-page CV on the whole will allow you enough space to fit all the relevant information you need to put on your CV. But what if it isn't? Many of our candidates have long lists of relevant and interesting experience and qualifications.
When sending a CV to Focus, we recommend including all your relevant experience. If this results in your CV being longer than two pages - don't worry. We'd rather you put your relevant experience on than leave it off as you've run out of space.
When push comes to shove, it is your past experience that makes you attractive to an employer. By leaving certain experience off your CV due to space constraints, you risk not informing a potential employer of experience that could prove vital to our application.
Include all your experience but be selective
It is usually a letter addressed to your interviewer or whoever you are sending your CV to. It is sent in accompaniment of your CV and will on most occasions be no longer than one side of A4. Some employers will specifically request a covering letter, whilst others may leave it up to you. You will never be viewed negatively for sending a covering letter, but may be if you don't. Our advice? Always send one.
When is it essential to include a CV covering letter?
Speculative applications. If you have not seen a particular vacancy advertised but you have a specific desire or interest in an organisation, it is essential that you include a covering letter. Otherwise, your CV will arrive at the employer unexpected and un-introduced.
When sending in a CV, you must include a covering letter that includes some important information.
- Cite any reference numbers pertaining to the application and state where you saw the role advertised
- Salary - include your current or last basic salary, bonuses (briefly explaining how this would be calculated), pension schemes and health plan details if any
- Also add in whether you benefited from a car or allowance
- Draw attention to one or two key points in the CV that you feel make you suited to that particular role