The easiest way to save? Earn money. The easiest way to earn money? Get a job. The easiest way to get a job? Write an absolutely killer CV.
Years ago I received some of the best advice I’ve ever heard for writing your CV and I’ve never forgotten it: If you were in the room when it happened, then you’ve done it.
Obviously I urge you to take this with a pinch of salt, but it’s a great thing to keep in mind when you’re trying to figure out what skills you have and what you should mention.
Your CV is your personal advertisement to the world. Don’t sell yourself short.
1. Tailor write it for the job you’re applying for
CV’s are not a ‘one size fits all’ affair. Every job is different, and requires different aspects of your skill set, ergo, each CV you submit should be different and aligned to the needs of that job.
My best advice on this is to write one ‘master’ CV of every single skill and every single achievement you’ve ever obtained in your whole career. This could end up being a mammoth document of 6, 7, or 8 pages. Then, when you are applying for individual rolls, refer to this ‘master’ document and extract the jobs or skills that are most relevant to the role. If you make sure the master CV is always up to date this will save you a ton of time in the long run. It will also ensure that you never lose or forget something important that you’ve done in your career because all your experience is stored in one place.
2. Understand your skill set
Sounds strange, but you may have skills that you don’t even realise you have, or don’t even value. You may be the most organised and efficient person in the world, but because you do it on a daily basis you no longer value this skill set. It can be tedious but it pays to sit down and go through, blow by blow, what you do every day and understand exactly what skill set this has given you.
3. Get your grammar right
Even if you aren’t applying for an editing job, something as simple as spelling mistakes can make you look sloppy and unprofessional. If you’re not good at checking over your own work (or aren’t the world’s greatest speller), then ask a friend or family member to look over it. If this isn’t an option then there are plenty of services online who will check your CV, for a small fee.
4. Don’t save the best ‘til last
Unlike a Sunday roast, where you eat your veg first and save your Yorkshire puddings until the end, CV’s work much better if you can knock ‘em dead with the first punch. Put your most relevant work experience first. A lot of the time whoever is reading your CV will have at least 30 or 40 others to choose from, so you need to make sure you get their attention straight off the bat.
5. Big yourself up
Don’t be shy, and don’t leave out any major achievements that make you stand out from the crowd. In this case humility will do you no favours. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say you should over exaggerate your greatness. Don’t lie; you should always be able to deliver on any skill you promise on your CV so don’t tell them you can code if you can barely switch on a mac. However, make sure you really hammer it home just how amazingly well you can organise a board meeting, or an exam board, or whatever it is you do best.
6. There’s beauty in brevity
Unless you’re applying for a job that specifically asks you for a long, structured CV, keep yours to no more than a page and half. Some more senior roles, or those in the higher education or public sectors, will always require longer CVs. In general however, all other sectors will want to know your life’s accomplishments in no more than one and half A4 pages. So choose your information wisely. Think Banya Natsuishi, not Charles Dickens.