Writing your Curriculum Vitae (CV)- Avoiding the common pitfalls
According to employers, fewer candidates are tripped up by the obvious areas of presentation, spelling and content than by the subtle areas of targeting their Curriculum Vitae to the job in question, reflecting the right attitude and demonstrating the elements of personality, benefits and value.
Listed below are a few things to help you check and improve the targeting of your CV (Curriculum Vitae):
Target your CV to the job in question
Targeting is the crux of writing a good CV; you cannot produce an effective CV if it isn’t targeted towards the job in question. Employers want to see that you have a clear idea of what you want to do because it matters to their business. An employer wants to ensure that you are the right person for the job on offer. So increase your chances of success by making the CV stand out because it is targeted towards the job in question.
The principles of job targeting
Listed here are some of the principles of job targeting which you will need to adopt when making your job choice.
- What is your profession? Your profession is key to your job choice. Everyone has a profession even if this isn’t the job they do every day. They may be doing temporary work, be off work sick, be retraining or having a career break. However, your primary concern when looking for work is to look for a job which is relevant to your profession. Does your job target relate closely to what you have done in your previous job or educational training? In fact, the closer your targeted job relates to a current job and experience, the higher your salary expectations can be.
- Field. The field of work is different from the profession, because many fields make up a profession – you must avoid confusing the two. For example, selling is a profession but insurance is the field. Think about your preferred field of work when making your job choices.
- Salary. Your job target should also include a salary figure which reflects your market rate, covers your basic living expenses and allows you room for enjoyment (never include your salary on a CV but target your applications towards jobs at the appropriate salary).
- The company. Include also within your job target the type of company you would like to work for. Perhaps a national, multinational, public company, a partnership, public sector or a charity.
- Special requirements. Your job target should also include anything which is specific to you. For example, flexi-time, travel time to and from work, or the nature of the business itself.
Targeting enables you to give your job search campaign a structure that it wouldn’t otherwise have and therefore increase your chances of success.
Reflecting the right attitude on your CV
Attitude is fundamental to CV writing. However, most candidates are completely unaware that their attitude is reflected in the tone of their CV by their sentence construction, choice of words and also in their covering letter. If you have the right attitude the opportunities for interviews will increase, but get your attitude wrong and your CV may never work for you!
Attitude is the basis on which good management and careers are built, so the key is to be aware of the attitude you portray. For example, arrogant people tend to write arrogant covering letters showing little or no respect for the prospective employer and they tend to overestimate their role and achievements in their CV. Whereas shy or timid people tend to underestimate their role and focus more on their duties in their CV rather than their personal input or accomplishments. Also people lacking in confidence often try to compensate for this by bringing a touch of humour to the CV or covering letter or by focusing on their outside interests. The key is to be yourself and to present your best side. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this:
- Choice of words. The key is to choose positive words. Some people can do this instinctively whereas others have to practise it. Active words automatically create a positive impact, which is what you are after. Focus on what you do in your job, how well you do it and what contribution you have made. Try to portray a range of skills and achievements and remember that although this approach may be time-consuming, you will benefit in the long run. Employers respond to positive candidates.
- Sentence construction. Start your sentence with an active verb and then go on to describe your duties and achievements, adding detail and emphasis for clarity. Always refer to the job advertisement as this will give you an indication of the types of things to include. Remember, write concisely and effectively but never write to impress as it rarely works and often switches the reader off.
- The covering letter. Interviews are often awarded or rejected on the strength of the covering letter. A covering letter is an absolute necessity because without it your application is incomplete. Writing covering letters is often harder than writing the CV itself because there is often doubt about what to include and how much to write. However, most covering letters fail because they don’t empower the employer. In fact they don’t add anything to the application and sometimes can even undo the message of the CV itself. Remember to explain your origin and expertise within the covering letter and to highlight rather than hide any disadvantages. Admit any shortcomings and stress your positive attributes in related areas.
Demonstrating your personality on your curriculum vitae (CV)
Personality is key to the selection decision, but so many candidate fail to include it, usually because they don’t know how to. However, if you can demonstrate your personality in the CV, it increases your attractiveness as a candidate. So how do you make yourself seem special? What you need to do is to conjure up a picture of yourself rather than putting down things you think you should include.
Choose words that are applicable to you, words that reflect something about you as a person. Avoid words such as ‘involved with’ and ‘responsible’ but use words that communicate what you are like as a person. For example, show your dependability by writing ‘gets into the heart of problems by focusing on critical information and performing the work with minimal supervision’. Be honest about yourself, focus on your strengths and be positive, and this will be communicated to the reader.
Remember that the CV is the one aspect of your job hunt over which you have complete control. If it is failing to show you off well then it is not doing its job properly. If you want to check out how effective your CV is then send it to Sarah. She and one of her trained consultants will highlight how your CV is selling you.
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