Although some people revel in showing their strengths, many are too modest about their achievements and often do themselves a disservice, especially when it comes to writing up a CV. While boasting about your accomplishments may not come naturally, it is essential that your CV conveys confidence as well as showcasing your successes, experience and skills – down to the finest details.
To help you make sure your CV shines, we have compiled a list of tips to get you started…
- Keep it short
There is much debate surrounding whether you should write a one or two page CV. As Forbes magazine highlights, Google will spit out 100 articles with 400 pieces of advice on this, so it is largely subjective. However, it is rarely advisable to go over two pages, so make sure you don’t waffle your way onto three.
- Keep it in chronological order
The two points that a company will always focus on are; what relevant experience you have and what recent experience you have. For this reason you should include dates and a one-line explanation for any time off. Unless you are a recent graduate, your education should go at the end of your CV.
- Write a line about the organisation you worked for
Give your role context by including a one line description about the organisation and what they do.
- Include key words and terms
Nowadays CVs are uploaded to online systems and automated search engines, so it is imperative that you write key words. The use of titles and skills such as: ‘Public Affairs Manager’, ‘budget management’ and ‘team leader’ are SEO effective.
- Write your CV so that anyone can understand it
This links to the point above. Line managers will understand industry jargon but a HR Manager may not know what a good public affairs candidate looks like, so be explicit.
- Include key achievements
To stand out from the competition you should include examples of your achievements. This makes your CV look less like a generic job description and more like a personalised document. It is also a good idea to include KPIs on your CV to support your successes.
- Avoid including anything misleading
Anything less than the truth will affect your future credibility if the hiring manager finds out. Most organisations do background checks and if something is not as it appears on paper, it is unlikely you will get the job.
- Don’t write long prose
Do not produce a document with wordy paragraphs as it could put off your prospective employer. Bullet points are a good way to present your skills and experience, and won’t create a negative response from the person reading your CV.
- Don’t use subjective words without evidence
Do not make sweeping character statements such as: “I am a dynamic communicator” or, “a strategic thinker”, without supporting examples. Otherwise, it can sound like hot air.
- Don’t use the Europass format with corporate affairs applications.
You might give the impression you want to be an EU official rather than work in the private sector, and the CV is rather formulaic.
Up for debate
- Create multiple versions
The jury is out on this particular point, as it is often recommended that you tailor your CV to each application – The Guardian in particular say there is, “no such thing as a generic CV”. However, others argue that a single document, summarising your experience, should speak for itself.
- Use a personal statement
If you do this then keep it short, pithy and objective. For a more detailed breakdown on creating a personal statement, click here.
- Use a photograph
While the standard format in some European countries including in Brussels is to include a photograph, it is much more subjective in countries like the UK. Identifying how formal or informal a company is, is usually a good indicator of whether to include a profile picture. Discussion on this subject can be read here.
- Include some personal information about yourself
We suggest including a line or two about your interests, hobbies and extra-curricular activities to add a touch of character to your list of credentials. Opposing this view is the Independent, who think it’s a, “waste of space”.
We believe there is no specific formula to creating the perfect CV, but there are many perspectives, tips and general advice on the subject. Here is some suggested reading material to get you started: