DRS: Daelemans - Rens - Steenackers

Executive Search Consultants

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Tips for CV

A Curriculum Vitae is the most effective tool for generating interest in your professional background. A CV is like an advertisement, if executed correctly it is an effective marketing tool that informs and generates interest.

A CV should be clear and concise: the longer a CV is, the more likely your reader will lose interest. However there is no consensus on the subject. For those who are truly interested in your background even a long and detailed CV is relevant; for those who are not a one-pager is what they hope for. Consider preparing a short and a detailed version: the short version should encourage the reader to learn more about you in the more detailed second part.

Don't write your CV in the third person: it is yourself you are marketing, not an impersonal third party.

Two Principles

The decision to recruit is like a buying decision on the part of an employer. Therefore:

1. It must meet the needs of the target organization where possible. This means that a general-purpose CV is usually less effective than a more targeted version.
2. It must highlight your achievements and how they relate to the function you are applying for. It should give the reader a clear indication of why you should be considered for this role. Do not bore readers with job descriptions and responsibilities - those who are truly interested in your background typically understand your function well enough. Instead: focus on your contributions, be specific and quantitative wherever you can.

Guidelines

To decide what to include in your CV and where, we suggest the following guidelines:

  • As in an interview, first impressions are vitally important. Your CV needs to be clear, concise and structured. It should be easy to read. Make your CV interesting and different.
  • When responding to a specific vacancy, consider the skills asked for in the function profile - is it obvious from your CV that you have these skills?
  • Your CV should be honest and factual. Tell the truth.
  • Start with a personal profile. This is a two or three-sentence overview of your skills, qualities, hopes and plans and should encourage the reader to read on! Consider adding a photograph of yourself (a good one).
  • Consider including a concise career objective. This is particularly useful if you are considering a career change and you need to highlight your new plans to potential employers.
  • The first page should contain enough personal details for a consultant or potential employer to contact you easily. Personal details: full name, address, home telephone, mobile phone number(s), email address(es), marital status. If you move frequently consider including a more steady contact address (parents, friends).
  • Choose a presentation format that allows you to headline key skills, key achievements or key attributes.
  • Briefly summarize your education.
  • Your employment history should commence with your current or most recent function and work backwards. Write about your current (or last) job in the present tense, this will help your CV to have impact.
  • Be quantitative as well as qualitative. Outline budgets, sales targets, headcount managed.
  • Mention major achievements. List three to five of your most important achievements and state how you achieved them. Achievements should be short, bullet-pointed statements and include your role, the action you took and a comment on the result of your action. Don't forget to be specific about your achievements.
  • Where information clearly demonstrates your suitability for the vacancy you're applying for, and enhances your chances of being short-listed, include this information near the beginning of the CV.
  • Leave out information that is irrelevant or negative. No excuses - don't include reasons for leaving a job in your employment history.
  • Include salary/benefits, if you don't, mention it in your cover letter. The level of your compensation is an important indicator of the value of your work.
  • Include a brief description of the business activities of the companies you have worked for - not everybody will know about them.
  • Include details of recent training or skills development sessions you have attended if they are relevant. Only include the most important training programs and courses. List your training under Education if you are short of space.
  • Mention your professional memberships.
  • Include details of activities outside work. If these don't fit under "Leisure and Interests" it can be useful to rename this section "Additional Information". But keep it short.
  • References are not usually included on the CV, but it would be a good time to think about them.
  • Do not include information that is irrelevant to the position you are applying for.
  • Misspelling and poor punctuation are common mistakes and should be avoided. A CV should always be checked and doubled-checked. Ask someone else to check it for you.
  • Keep your CV up to date.