The longer a CV is, the more likely your reader will lose interest. However there is no consensus on the subject. For those who are truly interested in your background even a long and detailed CV is relevant; for those who are not a one-pager is what they hope for. Consider preparing a short and a detailed version: the short version should encourage the reader to learn more about you in the more detailed second part.
Don't write your CV in the third person: it is yourself you are marketing, not an impersonal third party. CVs written in this way create an air of formality and stuffiness.
The decision to recruit is akin to a buying decision on the part of an employer. Therefore:
- It must meet the needs of the target organization where possible. This means that a general-purpose CV is usually less effective than a more targeted version.
- It must highlight your achievements and how they relate to the function you are applying for. It must give the reader a clear indication of why you should be considered for this role. Do not bore readers with job descriptions and responsibilities! - those who are truly interested in your background typically understand your function well enough. Instead: focus on your contributions, be specific and quantitative wherever you can.
To decide what to include in your CV and where, we suggest the following guidelines:
- As in an interview, first impressions are vitally important. Your CV needs to be clear, concise and truthful and not too long. It should be easy to read. Make your CV interesting and different.
- When responding to a specific vacancy, consider the skills asked for in the function profile - is it obvious from your CV that you have these skills?
- Your CV should be honest and factual. Tell the truth.
- Include a concise career objective if you are considering a career change and you need to highlight your new plans to potential employers.
- The first page should contain enough personal details for a recruitment consultant or potential employer to contact you easily. Personal details: full name, address, mobile phone number, e-mail. Remember that your resume should not include the sensitive data as understood by the personal data protection law.
- Choose a presentation format that allows you to headline key skills, key achievements or key attributes.
- Briefly summarize your education.
- Your employment history should commence with your current or most recent job and work backwards. Write about your current (or last) job in the present tense, this will help your CV to have impact.
- Be quantitative as well as qualitative. Outline budgets, sales targets, headcount managed.
- Mention major achievements. List three to five of your most important achievements and state how you achieved them. Achievements should be short, bullet-pointed statements and include your role, the action you took and a comment on the result of your action. Don't forget to be specific about your achievements.
- Where information clearly demonstrates your suitability for the vacancy you're applying for, and enhances your chances of being short-listed, include this information near the beginning of the CV.
- Leave out information that is irrelevant or negative.
- Include a brief description of the business activities of the companies you have worked for - not everybody will know about them.
- Include details of recent training or skills development sessions you have attended if they are relevant. Only include the most important training programs and courses. List your training under Education if you are short of space.
- List your professional memberships. Include details of activities outside work. If these don't fit under "Hobbies and Interests" it can be useful to rename this section "Additional Information", but keep it short.
- References are not usually included on the CV, but it would be a good time to think about them.
- Do not include information that is irrelevant to the position you are applying for.
- Misspelling and poor punctuation are common mistakes and should be avoided. A CV should always be checked and double-checked. Ask someone else to check it for you.
- Keep your CV up to date.