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WRITE A GREAT RESUME
Thinking from the employersí perspective, it is really important that your CV or resume is well laid out in a clear format, which makes it easy for the employer to read and find the relevant information. However, unless you are applying for a visually creative job, they are not going to be too concerned with your graphic design skills, so keep it simple. Use a clear font in a reasonable size, and leave quite wide margins - not only does this help your text to stand out, it leaves room for the employer to scribble their comments. There are various CV templates available in word processing packages and online, which are good for layout ideas, but personalize these with subtle changes of your own.
While it is tempting to make an impression via the use of coloured paper and wacky design, avoid this - you can stamp your individuality on your CV without resorting to off putting novelty tactics. Quality speaks for itself, so print your CV on good quality paper using the highest standard print option. Increasingly CVs are submitted electronically, via e-mail, and the employer will then print it out (check that your tabs, paragraphs and page breaks will survive cyberspace and print out properly, and also that you are sending through a file which can be opened easily).
As for including any additional, unsolicited supporting material, this is usually not a good idea. There are exceptions, such as design or publishing jobs, where sending samples of your work can be an advantage, but on the whole leave out copies of qualifications, testimonials and irrelevant publications. Similarly, unless requested, donít include a photo (itís likely to be completely irrelevant, unflattering when printed out, and will only provide endless amusement for the Human Resources department of your potential employer). The only extra thing you may want to include is a covering letter.
When writing your CV or resume, do bear in mind:
Tailor your CV for different jobs
Itís a good idea to tweak your CV or resume according to the specific job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a job which specifies a large amount of admin, alter your CV to highlight your admin experience as opposed to, say, your computer skills or customer service background. Donít lie, but change the order of your bullet points to start with your admin achievements. Save a new copy of your CV each time you make changes to your original template.
Keep your CV or resume to two pages in length
This is not as hard as you think, and more is definitely less for recruiters with limited time and a large pile of CVs. There is nothing more off putting than a rambling CV several pages thick, or a sparse CV padded out with detailed descriptions of various temping assignments or, even worse, white space. The recruiter will not be fooled into thinking that you have more experience than you actually possess, and will probably become annoyed by your lack of concision and long winded writing style. There are rare exceptions to this, for example CVs for experienced executives applying for senior posts, or academic job applications, which often include lists of publications.
Proof read your CV
This one sounds obvious, but youíd be surprised how many people either donít bother, or donít give this enough attention. It can be difficult to spot your own mistakes, so ask someone else to look at it for you. You can also use the grammar and spell checkers on your computer, but be warned, these are not failsafe, so use a dictionary or thesaurus as back up. You may think spelling and punctuation errors are minor concerns, but in a competitive job market where employers prize attention to detail, accuracy and good written English skills - they are not.
Make sure there are no gaps in your CV
Nothing makes an employer more suspicious than periods of time between employment or education which are unaccounted for. You may have been traveling or doing short term jobs, but if you donít tell the recruiter, they could assume youíve had a spell in a secure institution. Chances are you will have been doing something, so tell the truth and put a positive spin on it by mentioning what you achieved or learnt in the process. If you were temping in a succession of assignments, or involved in simultaneous short term projects, summarise these briefly and give one or two specific examples, rather than detailing them all individually.
Keep your CV or resume up to date
It is very frustrating for an employer reading a CV in August, which hasnít been updated since February. It looks, and is, lazy, and doesnít give the employer one of the most important pieces of information, for instancewhat you are currently doing. It can also put you in an embarrassing situation if, having fluked your way to interview, you are asked by the interviewer to describe your role at Company X - and you then have to explain that in fact you left there four months ago and are now working for Company Y. A good way to stay on top of your developing CV is to update it regularly with new roles and achievements when they happen, regardless of if youíre applying for a job or not.