First Impressions Count – The Need For A Good CV

6 February 2019

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All too often I know that first impressions really do count so I do my best to help, guide and advise my candidates on how to deal with the interview situation for the job role they really want. This also got me thinking about what the first impressions in the recruitment process are and their importance. I believe the key tool to making an imprint on a potential employer really comes from your CV.

Your CV is your first introduction to a perspective employer, it’s a really excellent tool and will work well for you in your career if you do it correctly.  It is important that you make your CV a self-marketing document with the aim of achieving an interview from it. It doesn’t matter if you are a graduate applying for your first ever job or an experienced individual moving up the career ladder, a good CV is vital in your job hunting activity.

Writing A CV

In my role as a senior recruiter I often speak to large numbers of excellent candidates who want to register for potential job opportunities but I often hear, "A CV…I don’t have one" and to be fair it’s a daunting task to sit down and think how to really sell yourself never mind think, “what is it I do every day”. However there are some really basic key factors you can start with when composing a CV.

Layout

There are occasions where an edgy/quirky CV may be appropriate; if you are applying for a role in the creative or design lead industry for example, however a traditional clear, concise and tailored CV is much more appropriate in most job applications.

Contact Details

This may be really obvious but I have seen plenty of CV's with no contact numbers. There is nothing more frustrating than getting the perfect applicant and you can’t contact them.

Make sure you include all methods of contact from telephone numbers, email address, postal address, to your LinkedIn profile (if you have one), but most importantly, double check that what you have written is correct.

Opening Profile

Make a profile work for you, it’s a great way to engage with an employer and can make an immediate impact if you make it interesting and concise.  Sell yourself in a few informative points and make it very relevant to the role you are applying for or the industry you are applying within. Avoid waffle and clichés, and stick to effective facts or information about yourself e.g. who you are, what sector you work within, a concise snap shot of your skills on offer and what are the next steps for you in terms of your career.

Experience

Include your work history starting in reverse chronological order and order your headings something like this:-

    • Employer Name

     Position Held

     Dates To - From

     Roles and Key Responsibilities In This Position

Remember to include detail on your day-to-day activities and always draw out as much relevant experience that you have gained in your position. For each position you detail, always differentiate your roles and responsibilities (even if you have been with the same employer) or in a very similar previous role. If you can make it measurable and highlight specific systems or packages that you work on this will really enhance your CV. Finally, always indicate your achievements in this position, this can be a real eye catcher.

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Tailor Your CV's Experience Section

When applying for all roles make sure your CV is relevant. Read the job description of the role you are applying for and identify the key requirements, particular skills and experience of the position. This allows you to align your experience through your roles and responsibilities from previous positions to address the fact you can do this job.

Don’t make assumptions that the person reading your CV understands your current or previous positions and that they can automatically equate that you can do this job - very often this may not be the case. The person shortlisting your CV may be a junior in a HR department set with the box ticking exercise of shortlisting and they will need to see the main points highlighted  on their personal specification in order to shortlist you. On the other hand you could have your CV reviewed by the MD of a company and they may want to see your level of detail tailored specifically to the role and view it as your commitment to wanting the job. Each time you apply for a role it’s really important to think of your audience and who will be assessing you.

Education, Qualifications & Training

It’s best to start with your highest level of qualification first and work through this in a clear fashion. This should include:-

     Dates of completion and institution/school attended

     Level of education and certification attained

It’s important that you include any further professional development as you have progressed your career, and this includes any supporting, relevant or up to date training you have undertaken especially if it is specific to the industry you are applying for a job within, and any professional membership or affiliations you have.

Key skills

Give a brief overview of specific skills you have gained through your career but please ensure you back this up with examples such as how have you gained this skill; has it been through working on a specific project or maybe your proficiency in a type of system or package.

References

You may not be in a position to put down contact details or your current employer and if this is the case ensure you highlight that you are prepared to offer referee details on request. It’s advisable at this point to seek the approval of referees who will be in a position to give you references when requested in the recruitment process.

And finally

It might sound obvious but always check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. You should never mismatch the first and third person throughout your CV. It’s probably advisable to steer clear of abbreviations and job specific jargon or company specific terminology.

If you need help or advice on creating or updating your CV please get in touch with our specialist recruitment consultants at MCS Group today. Call our office on 028 9023 5456 or email belfast@mcsgroup.jobs.


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