A few statistics about CVs and applying for jobs…
- On average, recruiters will spend no more than 5-10 seconds looking at your CV, which is why it is imperative that you have all the keywords that they are looking for i.e. include the words that are in their job description.
- 43% of CV’s are discarded because they are written in the third person and if there are any spelling or grammatical mistakes, it is very likely that your CV will get thrown away.
- 76% of CV’s are ignored if you have an unprofessional email address.
- Did you know that for any given position there is an average of 118 people that apply for the position? Shockingly only around 35% of candidates who apply for jobs are actually qualified for the role. Make sure you are applying for jobs that are on your level; otherwise you are wasting everyone’s time.
- Some estimates suggest that up to 75% of people who apply for jobs never hear anything back!
In a world where increasingly you will apply for more and more roles on-line (the dreaded recruitment black hole!), the only thing that is going to get you that chance is your CV. A weak CV can seriously undermine your chances of being interviewed so take compiling your CV seriously. It is essential that you invest time in ensuring it is as informative and professional as possible. It is a matter of personal opinion as to what constitutes the perfect CV but by following the suggestions in this blog, you will have a fighting chance of being selected for interview.
If you need any CV-related advice, please do not hesitate to contact me.
So, where to start?
Your objective when putting together a CV is to secure that all-important interview. The time and effort spent on it is a great investment in marketing yourself effectively in an increasingly competitive job market.
Many employers receive multiple identi-kit CVs and form an opinion after a first scan of a document. It is essential to create a strong first impression, and ensure pertinent information is highlighted and strategically placed at the start of your CV.
If you are successful in being selected for interview, the content of your CV provides the interviewer with material to discuss, so it is important that your key skills and achievements are clearly documented.
A wealth of information can be found on the web, on various jobsites, career coach/ generalist agency websites, but that CV advice often stems from a “one size fits all” approach. Read on for some CV tips that will help you differentiate yourself and turn your CV into a competitive advantage in the Corporate Governance arena.
Some tips …
Type the CV (and covering letter, if applying to an organisation yourself), use a modern layout and font, and keep the layout simple and well-spaced out. Ensure it is error free by proof reading, more than once – ask a friend or family member who is not familiar with the document to check it for you too.
Use a mixture of text and bullet points – don’t use wordy paragraphs as important information can be missed and the reader may lose interest before the end. Don’t indent the bullets too much or your CV will run onto more pages than is necessary.
Don’t get hung up on having no more than 2 pages. If your career spans a few years you may need to go over 2 pages to highlight your experience and achievements. In our experience it is better to give a comprehensive overview of your career than to provide too little information.
Use clear and concise sentences/ bullets, avoiding the use of slang or jargon. It is fine to use commonly used abbreviations (for example e.g., CV and etc.) and acronyms (ISACA) in the CV. However, if they are company or role specific and not widely used write the full name the first time you mention it, with the abbreviation/ acronym after in brackets. It is fine to then continue using only the acronym throughout the CV. E.g. Currently a Manager in the Information Risk Management (IRM) team. IRM is split into….
Keep your CV factual – this means trying to avoid statements that are subjective and often off-putting! (“excellent written and verbal communicator”, “good team player”, “exemplary”).
And ALWAYS be 100% honest – do not fabricate or embellish anything. EVER. If it becomes apparent you have been dishonest your integrity will be questioned.
Put your name at the top, with your address, phone numbers (include a mobile number if possible), and your preferred e-mail address – check these are accurate before sending your CV anywhere.
These should appear near the beginning of your CV. List your Professional Qualifications with dates (and pass rate if relevant). If you are part qualified, detail your progress to date, next exam sitting and when you expect to qualify. Mention any awards attained.
List Degree(s)/ further qualifications held and where and when you obtained them. Mention any awards attained. Depending on the stage of your career, you might want to say where you went to school/ college and give attendance dates and grades.
Career coaching and CV consultancies often recommend including a strong personal description and placing it right at the top of your CV. I don’t like these and am never influenced by them – they all sound the same and they are your opinion of your skills and behaviours. An interviewer needs to evaluate these and form an opinion in an interview. Don’t waste space waxing lyrical about how well you work under pressure or that you are looking for the next challenge….
In a technical discipline it is your qualifications and relevant experience as detailed on your CV that will get you an interview. It is this, coupled with the assessment of your strengths and competencies from an interview that will get you the job.
If you insist on including a statement, focus on skills you will bring to the role/ team to the benefit of the business and highlight experience and qualifications that make you highly employable.
This is what the employer will focus on – ensure it doesn’t read like a job spec and that you differentiate yourself from your peers.
Begin with your most recent employment and work backward. Your most recent experience should be the most detailed. Give the dates of employment (months and year), name of the business, sector and turnover where possible, and your job title.
Put 2 or 3 lines outlining the main purpose of the role, department worked in, job title of the person you report(ed) to, size of team, client portfolio if public practice etc.
List the key responsibilities as bullet points – these should be fairly generic to the role, including key tasks, staff responsibilities etc.
List some significant projects/ initiatives/ audits/ reviews in which you have been involved, in a separate section.
Add any significant achievements, quantifying where possible, “Achieved X% of target last year.” Ask yourself for each one, “is this an achievement or something expected of me in my role?” (.i.e. a responsibility). Either list a few achievements for each role or include one achievements section near the start of the document.
List other positions of responsibility held within the role, committees sat on etc.
It is not necessary to put reasons for leaving on a CV as this can be discussed in an interview.
List technologies you are familiar with and the level of expertise if appropriate.
List relevant ones with duration and the year attended.
List, giving level of written and spoken fluency.
Keep these brief and be honest.
Leave these off at this stage or put “Reference details available on request”.
Lucy Adam, Director