Curriculum vitae written on typewriter

Much like finding the perfect partner, our clients have a check list when looking for the ideal candidate. While each job spec is different, there are certain qualities which every employer is looking for. In part 1 of our blog ‘The ideal candidate’, we will be taking you through how to write a successful CV. A well written and presented CV is essential when taking the first steps in securing a new position. In a fiercely competitive industry it is imperative that candidates take time to critique their CV in order to stand out from the crowd.

As a recruiter I cast my eye over tens of CV’s every day and have been offering CV writing advice for several years. I have seen it all from the outstanding to the shockingly bad! There have been a few over the years that rank high on the scale of terrible (or should I say hilarious). One was from a young chap who included a photograph of himself. Now, I am not opposed to seeing a photograph in the slightest but this was no ordinary CV photo. This was a group photo with his mates on a night out smoking a cigarette. The funniest part was that in his personal statement he said “I am in the middle”. Another classic came from a chap who mentioned on his CV that he spoke French. I was actually quite impressed with his CV so I gave him a call to have a chat about his experience etc. As the conversation went on I said ”I see you speak French” to which he nervously replied ”‘yes”’, I then said to him ”oùavez-vous apprisà parler français ?” (“where did you learn to speak French?”), he said ”erm, erm, erm”’ and put the phone down on me.

Although I look back and laugh, it’s actually a real shame that some people do not take enough pride in their CV and lie through their teeth. My golden rule when it comes to doing your CV is simply do not lie as it will catch up with you.

 

What information should be included on a CV:

First impressions count for everything and employers will judge someone without knowing them purely based on their CV. There is no official way of structuring a CV but from my experience incorporating the following in this sequence as a basic frame work works very well:

Personal Details

This should include your full name, contact details such as address, mobile and email address and date of birth (however with age discrimination laws now in force this isn’t essential). I see more and more people including a photograph which is absolutely fine, but it has to be professional and clear.

Personal Statement  

This is a chance for you to describe yourself and point out to a hiring manager why you believe you are a good employee and what you want to achieve in your career.  This statement should be tailored to the position you are applying for. You should elaborate on what you believe to be your main strengths. If you can answer these questions you will be off to a good start.

Education & Qualifications

You should list your full education in reverse chronological order starting with your degree subject and university (include class of degree) if applicable; your A levels and GCSEs or equivalents with school/college name.   If you have any related industry or additional qualifications I would list these separately underneath the above.

Career History

Start with your most recent job first (as above with education, go in reverse chronological order). A common mistake is many people just list duties and tasks carried out in a boring fashion. Focus on action words or buzz words which are usually verbs. These action words help to give an impression of a positive and motivated person. You need to highlight your achievements, for example, if you are the company’s top sales person then put it on your CV and include figures. I always like to see facts and figures! Lastly, try to relate the skills to the job. If you are working in a sales capacity, you would for example place more emphasis on persuading and negotiating skills.

Work Experience

I always tell people to list any unpaid work experience or jobs whilst studying separately from the main career history section. In my personal opinion I believe this works better. There are two main reasons, one is that hiring manager’s skim over CV far too quickly and if they see a lot of positions in the main category they could think straight away that this person has had far too many jobs. And secondly, I also believe that ‘work experience’ should be highlighted as it shows a commitment to your chosen industry especially if it was unpaid with no promise of a position at the end.

Skills

This should be short and brief and not stink of arrogance! This is where you can showcase for example if you are computer literate (proficient in Microsoft office etc.), if you speak any other languages (conversational Spanish etc.).

Interest & Achievements

Again this part should be short and to the point. Try to keep achievements related to your previous positions or standout personal achievements, for example “climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for charity” not “can neck a pint in two seconds” Try to avoid the usual boring clichés. Mention hobbies that are unusual.

References  

I have no preference whether you list your reference contact details (providing you have permission) or just simply put “reference available on request”.  

 

Mistakes to avoid:

  • Spelling and grammar – most of my clients will not interview if errors are made. A common response is “if they make mistakes on their CV what will they do on company documents etc.”
  • Too long or to brief – a CV should be no more than 2 pages long and not crammed into 1 page.
  • Poor presentation and format – do not pick an unusual font as 99% of the time it will look unprofessional. Make sure you separate headings and use bullet points if you are listing.
  • Lying – as I mentioned earlier, lying will catch up with you and will have a detrimental effect on your job search.
  • Poor photograph – again as I mentioned earlier, make sure your photo is professional and clear.

 

Tips on presentation

Your CV should be laid out clearly – do not cramp everything in but do not leave large empty spaces. Use bold and italic typefaces for headings as shown above. It’s a good idea to put your name (details) in the header or footer area so that it appears on each sheet. Be concise: a CV is an appetiser; you want to leave the reader wanting more. Only select important information.

 

I hope the above helps and if you need any CV writing advice please do not hesitate to contact us at Marcus George Recruitment. If you are looking for a new position in the property industry why not call us today on 020 7998 1936.

Article written by Matt Miel.

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