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Candidates – Some advice

A Winning CV: Avoid Common Mistakes

To better « sell » yourself, a flawless CV is essential

To better « sell » yourself, a flawless CV is essential - Photo libre
The best profile for getting the job
Many candidate CVs are very often not correctly presented.
In order to get your dream job, you will need a properly prepared and well-presented CV to send to potential employers. Although this may seem a straight-forward exercise, a number of common mistakes can result in your CV being discarded before getting a proper review. Avoid these mistakes to give yourself the best chance of having your CV properly considered.

Learn how to sell yourself to your future employer

Always keep in mind what role a CV plays. Your CV is a document you use to sell your background and convince employers that you are the right candidate for an interview. You must remember that a CV is, first of all, a marketing tool; it is your publicity, with the ultimate aim of helping you to obtain an interview and ultimately the job. With this in mind, ensure that your CV is concise. Put in just what is relevant to the role and, what can help the recruiter (or the CV screener) make the “right decision”. In short, a CV, just like a business card, is a way to introduce yourself to prospective employers and help you to get preselected and ultimately contacted. You should never include information that is untrue on your CV, or mention elements of your background or information that could be misinterpreted by a recruiter. Ultimately, a CV must be appealing and create in recruiters the desire to meet you.

Select the right information

Only information relevant to a role should appear on the CV. Hence, it is advisable to adopt 2-3 models based on the roles which you are applying for or target. Your CV should match the job requirements with slight modifications depending on what you are trying to highlight. Many young graduates, worried about the length of their CVs, try to include too much information on their resumes, and end up with CVs exceeding 1 to 1 ½ pages. This is often because they included all of their short term internships and holiday jobs, which is not a good approach. It is better to mention the 2-3 experiences most relevant to the desired role.

One page maximum

Generally, a CV should not be more than a page long if the candidate is a young graduate unless the candidate is seeking a job in academia where the list of publications can occupy many pages. For more senior candidates, a smooth and stable career path should be summarised in 1 ½ pages excluding all unnecessary information. As CVs are usually read for the first time by prospective employers for about 30–45 seconds, you should ensure that the first reading is not also the last. Your CV should highlight your strengths: most relevant schools you attended, your most relevant and significant experiences, achievements, etc

Make it bold, but not too much

Do not list your soft skills on your CV as is sometimes done. A CV should consist solely of facts. Soft skills and “sales pitches” can be included in your motivation letter. A good CV is direct, concise, clear and lucid. It should be legible, simple and spaced out, with a classic and modest font. It is not advisable to use colours or graphics of any kind, except in the advertising or design industry. Similarly, do not over use bold, italicised or underlined characters… Use bold characters for headings (“Professional Experience”, “Education”, “Languages”, “IT Skills”, and “Others”) and use bold or italics for the names of your employers. You can also use bold characters to highlight a prestigious degree, a rare competency, or a language you are fluent in.

The order of your headings

Regarding the order of headings, there are different approaches; usually, the most important has to come first. If you´re less than 30 years old and/or have had less than 2–3 positions, it is best to begin with “Education”. As you get older, your professional path will become more important, and your degrees will hold less value: thus you will start with your professional experience. The tendency is that after a certain age, the “Education” heading becomes less important, and just the name of the school or the degree is included at the top of the CV, close to the candidate´s name. In fact, at 45 years of age, just putting “Harvard MBA” with the year of completion is more effective than forcing the employer to look for this information on the second page of the CV: Include only what is essential and what will sell!