If you’re starting out in life and need to create a CV, there are lots of different layouts you can choose. We’ve been researching and adapting them for years and so bring together the many different styles as well as our own experiences in one simple layout that really works for young people!
The choice of CV style is basically yours, but over the next few weeks we’ll try and explain what you might want to include and what to leave out. We’ll tell you about the order in which to set it out, how to create a professional first impression and how to make an impact. Today, we’re starting at the top with your contact details and key achievements …
Give them what they want
Use the template – Firstly, always use a template CV if one’s been provided, especially in online applications. And remember to include content that has been specifically requested: it’s like an exam – if you don’t answer the question, you won’t get many marks.
Check requirements – Do also check what they want included – there will often be strict guidance in the advert or on the website so do make time to read this in advance. If you’re applying for a part-time job or work experience, perhaps also contact the employer to find out what they’re looking for as they may not need to see all your exam results, for example.
Keep it short – If you have a choice to use your own CV layout, please try and stick to just one side of A4 if you can; only spilling over to a second page where you have a lot of relevant evidence to include. They have limited time to read through everything and will want something punchy and relevant at this stage.
Remember, it’s a sales brochure to entice them to call you for interview, not to give away everything up front. And most young people won’t have a long list of previous work experience to fill several pages anyway.
Start with your name
You want the recruiter or employer to remember you. They can scan CVs and applications in a matter of seconds so you’ll be wanting to make a real impact, starting with your name. To help them spot and then remember your name, try using a larger font size in bold right at the top of the page. You’re telling them about ‘Product Me’.
Next add your contact details
The purpose of your CV is to get you noticed and invited for interview so you can sell ‘Product Me’ in person. To make it as easy as possible for the recruiter to contact you, put that information high up on the page. Include your email address, phone number(s) and potentially your postal address. If you are confident about your social media content, you could choose to add these addresses here as well.
Avoid anything that doesn’t create a professional image
Change your fun email address to something more sensible, update your answer machine message to something a hotel receptionist or a company executive’s personal assistant might say, and check with the recruiter whether your home address is needed at this stage – for one thing, it takes up valuable space.
Tell them about your key achievements
As the employer has already spent one or two seconds scanning your CV, they may not be going to stick around for much longer. You’ll need to get some key features and benefits in quickly otherwise you’ll lose the ‘sale’. Remember our recent analogy with the car sales brochure?
This is where you list 5 or 6 key benefits of ‘Product Me’ with evidence to prove that you didn’t make it all up. Here are a couple of examples –
Effective Leader – e.g. captain local football and hockey teams / e.g. chair of school fundraising committee, raising £1,450 from several different events. Strong Team Player – e.g. worked with fellow students to win the DT team challenge award / e.g. play for school and local sports teams. Good
Communicator – e.g. delivered presentation to 400 students in sixth form assembly / e.g. holiday job answering the telephone and relaying messages to work colleagues.
We’ve covered these in earlier blogs, but essentially this is where you need to match your personal skills list to the strengths that the recruiter is looking for.
Back to the analogy of the car: it is pointless telling a customer that the vehicle has alloy wheels and a racing trim if they are looking for a car which comes in pink and has a state of the art sound system. Your car might have all those features, but if you don’t tell them about the ones they’re looking for, they’ll walk away.
More ways to ensure you get across your key achievements
Honest – Always ensure that your list of key achievements is truthful and relevant to what the employer is looking for.
Paragraph style – Some recruiters also ask for a brief personal statement instead of your list of key achievements. That’s fine: as we said above, you give them what they want for maximum marks. It’s not as easy to read in a hurry, but the same key points apply – simply turn them into sentences.
Bold highlights – We’ll cover CV style and impact in a future blog, but it’s worth mentioning here that it can help anyone skim-reading if you use bold font to highlight just your key words.
And finally …
There’s always a caveat and, today, it is that some employers use anonymised recruitment methods. This means that your name, date of birth (should you have been asked for it) and other personal details will not be seen during the initial recruitment process.
More widely, it explains why a photo is less important – and even discouraged – these days. However, they will most likely look you up on social media so do vet any publicly accessible photos of you.
Look out for the next part of your CV layout in a future blog very soon.
Careersnearhere.com: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started!
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