Don’t you just love job hunting? Sending out your CV to a selection of strangers hoping they will offer some money for some work in return. Your CV if often the first point of contact for most hiring processes. In fact, you will get companies that could hire you just from your CV; yes this has happened to me at twice during my short existence. With that said, your CV must effectively communicate with your future employers and here is how you can do that.
1. It starts off with the design of the CV!
Make sure to use the right font size and spacing so that your CV is easy to read. I’m a fan of adding colour as long as it does not end up looking like a Christmas tree. It’s 2018; even Microsoft Office is now on version 16.0 so you can certainly spice up the design of your CV and maybe deviate just a little bit away from the traditional design. Because your CV is going to be part of a large pile of papers on someone’s desk, you want it to stand out (in a good way) the moment someone puts their eyes on it.
Of course not everyone is a talented designer but this is why the internet was created. You can google “modern CV templates” and the search will return hundreds of articles offering both free and paid templates. However, there’s a lot of nonsense templates out there so take some time to browse as many designs as possible. If you are handy with design software like Adobe InDesign or MS Publisher, you can do what I do; take inspiration from good designs you see online and implement them yourself :D.
2. Do not include your picture on your CV
“A picture says a thousand words.” Have you any idea what these thousand words will be on your CV? God forbid if only your mom thinks you are good looking. If you do the google search I suggested earlier, you will find that a lot of these templates have profile pictures on them. Please don’t do it. The only time this is necessary is if you are applying for a job where your physical appearance matters (like in media or something) or if they explicitly ask for your picture (which sounds illegal anyways). A picture does not contain any information that should be used to decide whether to hire you or not. Let the achievements on your CV speak for you.
3. Should the Education section come first?
My own experience with job hunting has shown me that employers value work experience a whole lot more than education. If you have worked even a 2 week internship, you will understand why this is the case. If you have significant working experience then you want that to be the first thing a prospective employer sees thus the work experience section must come first before the education section. The only time you should ever put the education section before the work experience section on your CV is if you either have little to no working experience or if your work experience is completely irrelevant for the job you are applying for.
4. Less is more
The less complicated you make your CV, the more effective it is in communicating with who ever it is intended for. Early on in your career, you may feel the pressure to add lots of stuff about yourself on your CV to compensate for your lack of experience. I remember during my 2nd year at University, I used to add volunteering experience from when I was in Form 4 (Grade 10-11) just to cover up the empty spaces. If you find yourself in such a situation, it may be a sign that you need to work on career and make yourself more employable (look for internships, do personal side projects, volunteer, etc.)
I have come across a lot of CVs that have a “bio”, “profile” or “about me” section. This section is often not necessary because when you submit a CV, you usually accompany it with a cover letter or if you use email, your email would act as the cover letter. Adding a “bio” section, therefore, becomes redundant and a waste of space.
5. Tailor your CV
Not all jobs you apply for are the same, therefore, the CVs you use should also not be the same. You must have a generic CV that you will customise for each potential employer you submit it to. Make sure to highlight the relevant skills that they are looking for and put less importance/leave out irrelevant ones. If you are applying for a frontend-developer position, your experience with web-frameworks and web-design will be more relevant than your skills in embedded programming. In your cover letter, show that you have done research about the company you are applying to and what value your unique set of skills will bring to the company.
6. It doesn’t end with your CV!
Some call it research, some will call it stalking, but what ever you call it, your potential employers WILL do this if they consider your job application. With this in mind, you might as well make sure they see what YOU want them to see. This means hiding certain things like social media and highlighting your professional career instead. Check out this article I wrote on How to Improve Your Online Presence.