How to write a killer CV / Resume


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  • The site is also a great place to identify keywords for your resume. All you do is paste in your resume plus the job description, then Jobscan analyzes your job description for you automatically and identify the most important keywords for you! it literally takes seconds and it so worth the copy and paste. Saved me so much time AND I got more interviews using Jobscan! I recommend as well!
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How to write a killer CV / Resume

  1. 1. How To Write A killer CV or RésuméIntroductionHow to sell your skills on paper and get yourself onto the shortlist for a job interview, is one of themost important steps for getting a job and often the biggest hurdle for many.What you are attempting to do is convince someone, who doesnt know you, that you are a worthyconsideration for the post they are trying to fill. With only your job application in front of them, youare hoping that all your skills and abilities, your personality and your experience will shine throughthe words and impress them. Impress them enough - to want to meet with you or talk to youpersonally and find out more about what you have to offer them. If you havent sold yourself in the first paragraph of your job application, then youve wasted your time writing it!Basically, if you havent sold yourself in the first paragraph of your CV or job application - then youwasted your time writing it. So no matter what skills you have that relate to the job on offer, you alsoneed to develop some sales skills. If you are competing with many others, who may be equallyqualified for the position, then the deciding factor may be down to how well you sold yourself in yourapplication. Remember also that a good salesperson does a far better job when they believe in theproduct they are selling and again, this is one area that many people fail in. Either through shyness,not wanting to "blow your own trumpet", embarrassment about talking about yourself or general lackof self-esteem, this is the one thing that lets so many down. If you dont believe in yourself, how canyou expect others to? If you are not sure that you are up to a particular job, you are going to projectthat lack of confidence to the potential employer. If they are not short of applicants, then theyprobably arent going to put your abilities to the test.All of your confidence (or lack of it) comes across in the way that you approach the job applicationprocess, both in the written Résumé and later at the interview stage. Therefore, it is important to getyour act together, believe in yourself and focus on what message you really want to send to yourprospective employer.The following sections cover the process of job applications and how to get the most value out of thecontent of your Curriculum Vitae or Résumé. One CV does not suit all job applications.What you wont find are templates to copy - mainly because there is not one style to fit all cases. It istoo simplistic to pick up a template that worked for one person in one situation and expect that youcan just paste in your own details and it will work for you too. Not only are there differences in stylebetween countries, but also in industries, so there would be too many variations and possibilities.By the end of this guide I hope you will understand that better and realise that you have to custom fitevery CV or Résumé to each job you apply for, if you are to make your best effort to be successful ingetting the job. 1
  2. 2. The Employer If you make the effort to present your job application well - it shows that you take care with the tasks that you undertake.Before we look at your Résumé or Curriculum Vitae in detail, it would be useful to view things fromthe other side of the desk and put yourself in the position of "the employer" and think about whatwould impress you if you were in that situation. Imagine yourself, Monday morning and the mail sackhas just arrived - full of job applications. Not only are you short-handed because you are one workerdown, but in order to fill that gap you have to spend time now, reading job applications andinterviewing potential employees.Your first step is to go through the just arrived, stack of applications. You need to quickly sort throughthem in order to narrow them down to those most likely prospects suitable to interview. You have abusy schedule and work is piling up while you do this - are you going to waste your time with any thatare illegible, badly spelled or poorly presented? No - they will be the first you discard. Heres your first tip - take the time to write up your application, neatly, with correct spelling and grammar and in the format that was asked. Make sure it is legible and preferably typed if you can. It is worthwhile getting help with this - if your spelling is poor, get a dictionary, use the spell-checker on the computer, get a friend to help or seek out someone who can provide this service. No matter what job is being applied for, even unskilled labour - the presentation of your job application says a great deal about your ability to communicate and about your approach to your work. If you make the effort to present your job application well, it shows that you take care with the tasks that you undertake. However, a slovenly or untidy job application demonstrates the likelihood of the same behaviour towards other tasks. Ask yourself, would you rather employ someone who thought they had done enough to sweep just the middle of the room, or would you prefer someone who took the trouble to do all the corners as well? You also need to present your application in the format that they asked for, too. If they ask for it to be on a specific form or sent to them in an electronic format - then make sure you follow their instructions. This may be their first test - can you follow instructions or do you do your own thing regardless? Help the reviewer to get to the essential bits of your CV quickly.Stepping back into "the employer" shoes again and the work on sifting the pile of applications. Youhave now weeded out the "not worth bothering with" applications that were sent in from all thosepeople who obviously didnt want the job badly enough to make too much effort to get it. Now, you arefaced with reading the ones that are left and there must be 20 or 30 on your desk now to go through inorder to select maybe 5 or 6 to interview. 2
  3. 3. At first, you might be quite diligent and read through all the pages of each résumé, but quickly realisethat at this rate, not only will you not be done by lunchtime, but the rest of the day looks like beingwritten off too. It doesnt take you long before your eyes are glazing over as you read - there is nothingduller than the average CV - as applicant after applicant recounts their career history from schooldaysto the present time. The "potted history" of each applicant may be really interesting to them, but whenyouve read 10 or 20, then it is very difficult to even stay awake, let alone take in the facts.Scan reading helps you to move through the pile of applications more quickly, but tends to increasethe glazing effect and the job applications begin to blur together. If you have to narrow the choice ofapplicants down by 75%, then it is only going to be the ones that stand out from the rest that getanything beyond a cursory scan. Here is the second tip - sell yourself in the first paragraph if you want your job application to even be read, let alone considered for the next stage of the shortlist for interview. The first few sentences of your application or resume should not only make it clear that you can do the job, but the first paragraph should be interesting enough that the reader wants to actually continue and read ALL of your application. The very first thing that should be mentioned is whatever it is that is THE most important criteria being used for selecting the successful applicant or that would be considered as an essential requirement to be able to do the job. Starting your job application, CV or résumé off with a succinct summary of what you can do for the employer, means that the person reviewing it has a quick snapshot of who you are in relation to their business. They can quickly make a positive choice in your favour, if what youve written basically says that you can fill their need. Ive seen many CVs where the applicant merely listed in chronological order, all the jobs that theyve had since leaving school - which meant that the most prominent information was probably the least relevant to the job being applied for. Help the reviewer of your CV to see your light - dont hide it under a bushel - put the most recent and relevant information first (ie reverse chronological order). A job that you did 5 year ago in your school holidays cleaning windows probably wont help much, to get you the position of Shift Supervisor for a Call Centre, but your last job as a Customer Service Team Leader might. Help the reviewer to get to the essential bits of your CV quickly. Being caught out in a lie doesnt demonstrate that you are an honest and reputable person.Back in the role of "the employer" again, you have probably managed to shed about half of the jobapplications now, although it took you all morning to do it. The last sifting process has got it down to apile of about 10 to 12 "possibles" to consider. There are still too many to interview, so you will nowneed to go through these in a bit more detail in order to narrow the selection down even further. Well,that looks like some more exciting reading for you to look forward to - after lunch! 3
  4. 4. Presumably, all of these applications had done a good enough job of selling themselves and lookinteresting enough to be worth a further and more detailed reading. This is where a finer filter isneeded, to separate out those who cant back up their claims from those who can, to weed out any"stretching" of the truth, or any shortfalls in experience and qualifications for the job.At this point as "the employer" you have to adopt an approach which is more like that of a sleuth -cross checking the details of each application, spotting errors, omissions, lies, reading between thelines at what is NOT written. Its amazing what some people will claim in their CVs and what theythink they can get away with! As "the employer" you have your chance now to look more closely andonly select those that stand up to the detailed scrutiny. Third tip - be honest or be bold enough to carry off a bluff! You will have to be very, very good though - I did once know someone who lied about their experience, but they were bold enough, self-confident enough not to give themselves away AND they were capable enough to do the job, once they started. Honesty, though, is your best policy. Yes, there are ways of emphasising certain facts or playing down others, but at the end of the day - you have to be able to do the job and if you are caught out in a lie about references or credentials - there will always be a price to pay. Remember - an employer will be trusting you with their business and they are looking for clues that you are someone who will repay that trust, not abuse it. Being caught out in a lie doesnt demonstrate that you are an honest and reputable person - quite the contrary and you know which pile your application will therefore end up in!So, skipping back to being "the employer" - you now have a handful of applications left, that passedyour selection criteria, all the detailed scrutiny and that look worthwhile to interview. You hand therest to your administration assistant to post out the standard rejection letter. This is a courtesy thatyou try to observe, but sometimes when youve been hiring for popular job positions, youve been soinundated with applications that if you had answered every one, there would have been no time left todo the job you were employed to do. Its worth bearing that in mind when you apply for any position,where there is likely to be popular interest and not to take it too personally if you hear nothing further.CV or Résumé? Oxford Dictionary Definition Résumé noun - 1) a summary 2) N Amer. a curriculum vitae origin from French, resumedAfter sitting in the employers chair, you should have got a few clues about how best to approach thejob application process, what the employer is looking for and what information you give away besidesthe facts that youve written. 4
  5. 5. There are many styles of CV or Résumé and the mode you choose will usually reflect the country inwhich you live as well as the profession or chosen field of work. The more formal and detailedCurriculum Vitae is usually more lengthy and includes more information generally than a Résumé. ACV tends to be the preferred option in some countries and with academic institutions generally. TheUS generally seems to favour the style of the Résumé, which is more concise and summarises someinformation. Whichever approach you take, CV or Résumé, there are still some principles that applyregardless.PresentationIn particular - legibility, spelling, grammar.Whatever the style, your job application, CV, Résumé and/or letter of introduction should always beneat, organised and well written. This is an absolute essential.Contact InformationContact information should be clear, accurate and complete.Include all modes of contact, including telephone, mobile, fax, postal address, email address. Themore ways that you can be contacted, the easier it makes it for them to get in touch.Job Target or ObjectiveState the position that you are applying for, up front, right at the beginning of your CV.Bear in mind that the position you are applying for might not be the only one that is being dealt withby the person receiving applications. It would be a shame if your application was filed with the wrongbatch and never reached its intended target for consideration.Capabilities or SummaryThis is a short synopsis or bulleted list at the beginning of your CV/résumé that summarises what youare capable of and that is relevant to the job application.There is no point including irrelevant information here, keep it concise and firmly targeted at the jobposition you are applying for.Make sure that you include the key words that an employer might be looking for, for the position youare applying. These might be tools or equipment, accreditation, languages, methods of work orsystems. They are generally industry specific and would be used by people who really do work in thatindustry.If you have been supplied with the selection criteria for the job, then this will guide you as to what isrelevant.In some cases you are asked to write a covering letter addressing the selection criteria and this wouldbe completed as a separate document to preface your CV.You still need to prepare your CV according to these guidelines though - CVs of the top applicants areoften filed for future reference, even if they didnt get the job, because they might be relevant for asimilar post or a further recruitment. You want your CV to include all the information that isnecessary if it is picked up later, without the covering letter. Example 5
  6. 6. Job Target: Project Manager (Information Systems) Capabilities: • Plan, direct and co-ordinate activities of designated projects throughout all areas of an enterprise to ensure that objectives are accomplished to specification, on target and to budget. • Take responsibility for the set up and management of a project team and motivate its team members towards achieving its goals. • Monitor time, resources, costs and standards throughout the duration of a project and prepare status reports and risk analyses for senior management and clients. • Control and document all stages of a project to conform with ISO9001/BS5750 and standard project management methodologies in particular PRINCE. • Utilise project management tools such as MS Project to assist in project planning and the development of resource plans and work schedules for each phase of a project. • etc. This summary contains job specific keywords and is a brief synopsis of the attributes of the applicant that are relevant to the position being targeted.Qualifications & CredentialsList them with the most relevant and highest level of qualification first.The first on the list might as well give the best impression, because details further down could beglossed over.Career HistoryReverse chronological order i.e. the most recent jobs first, working backwards.You are making sure that someone scanning your CV has got the most recent information first - theyare looking for what experience you have in the field you are applying for and it needs to be recent.They may not read beyond the beginning of it or might just scan the whole for continuousemployment - unless you get through to the detailed scrutiny stage.It is also important to cross-check your dates and be clear if jobs overlapped, or if you had time out ofemployment for specific reasons - such as further training or education, sabbaticals etc. Some peoplemay misinterpret the information and wonder what you were doing during "missing years"!How much detail you put in this section depends upon whether you are writing a CV or Résumé, butthe above principles apply.It is also worthwhile listing for each job, what are the important skills, tools, systems, etc that youused during this time. It helps the reviewer to build up a more complete picture of your experienceover a period of time. Example career history description: 6
  7. 7. Jan 1979 - Apr 1984 at Associated Dairies Senior Programmer As a Senior Programmer I was responsible for systems design, specification and more complex programming work on order processing, invoicing, stock control and EPOS systems relating to their general stores operation. My other responsibility was for the management and co-ordination of the work of a team of programmers, and included all aspects of staff management such as interviewing, training, allocation of work and progress reviews. Honeywell L66/DPS8 (GCOS4/8); IBM 3083 (MVS, JES3, TSO, ISPF, PANVALET); COBOL, BASIC, GMAP, MDQ, IDS, TDS, DMIV, TP, TSS/TEX, DL/1, IMS DB/DC, MFS, BTS, VSAM The above lists all the computers, software and languages used during this job. It is relevant to someone in this field, and gives a quick snapshot of what experience is current, or how long ago it was used.Other InformationDepending upon the position and the particular industry, there may be other information that isrelevant to include.Examples might be -a list of industry specific or workplace training courses that you have undertaken, languages that youare fluent in, computer software that you have used, mechanical equipment that you have worked on,publications that you have written and so on.These should have an appropriate heading and be grouped in a way that someone can quicklyassimilate the information.Key WordsIf you are a serious job hunter, then you are probably registered with several job agencies. Your CVwill be in a database against which job opportunities will be matched. It is important therefore, toensure that your skills list is up to date and includes all appropriate key words.If you are registering with an online agency, via the Internet say, then you will probably have anopportunity to add keywords to your details as a separate list - make full use of this, as it willdetermine how your CV is indexed. When matching jobs and CVs there is a better chance of yoursbeing picked up and for more opportunities if you have all the variants of a key word listed. Key Word Examples : Sous Chef and Sous-Chef - if there can be more than one way to spell something, list all variants. Project Manager, Project Coordinator, Team Leader are similar roles that you may be interested in, but different titles used for searching might mean your CV gets missed, unless you include similar roles in your key words. 7
  8. 8. Spreadsheet, Microsoft Excel, Excel97, Excel2000 etc.. Include generic references as well as more detailed keywords. Someone may not be fussy about what type of spreadsheet that you use, others may need you to be able to use a specific version.It is worthwhile preparing a list of all the keywords relevant to your own CV. Group them according totype e.g. all job descriptions and roles together, all tools, all training courses, etc.. With a pre-preparedlist, it can save you time when registering your details with job agencies and ensure that nothingimportant is overlooked. Being thorough with your registration details means that your CV has thebest chance for being selected when a suitable job comes up.Hidden MessagesWhat are you saying about yourself by the way that you say it?The way that you express yourself is actually sending a subliminal message along with any factualinformation.I am not talking about body language or the tone of your voice - although that is one way that you sendhidden messages. However, your choice of words and the way that you construct your writtendocuments also says a great deal more about you than you may think. Whether you are writing a CV, aRésumé or letter of introduction - how you describe your capabilities is also telling a potentialemployer about your character and personality.For instance, if you describe yourself as someone who takes the trouble to get things right, but thenpresent your job application in a disorganised or sloppy manner- which will be believed? - youractions or your words?Or, perhaps you are portraying yourself as someone with an assertive and direct manner and whowould be capable of a supervisory role. If your words are full of excuses or criticisms about what youhad to work with, then you arent demonstrating that you readily accept responsibility. Rather, thatyou are more likely to look to someone else to resolve your problems or pass the buck on to.There are also some things that are better left untold - anything which is derogatory to someone elseor anything that indicates any form of bad relationship with anybody, no matter who was to blame.You might be a totally innocent party to someone elses misdeeds, but there will be a connection madebetween you and something which is a negative characteristic. You do not want to portray anypossibility that "you dont get on with people", or that you are a "victim" in any way. These arenegative impressions and will not enhance your employment prospects.No matter how good you are at a particular job, employers like people who get on well with others,because they are less likely to have "employee issues" to deal with. Excerpt from a job enquiry "Hello, I signed up with xxxxx over three years ago and they kept routing my callers to other psychics, so I quit. I also heard many people being cheated by yyyyy, no sense in working when not being paid... I was wondering if there are any jobs available for psychics on your line..." 8
  9. 9. The first words written were criticisms of other businesses. The first impression was all negative - the problems shed had and concerns she might have about getting paid. There was nothing about what she had to offer. Straight up, the subliminal message was that she would be too much trouble!It is important to ensure that you only send positive messages, that reinforce what you are sayingabout your strengths and your capabilities.Adding ValueEvery sentence you write in your job application can be increased in value towards making the rightimpression.You can simply state a fact or you can make the sentence work harder for you and add yourpersonality and work values to it. The point being that you can also give a positive impression of youas a person, employee or colleague as well as the mere facts that you have qualifications andexperience in a particular field.Compare these 2 statements: "I worked at a burger chain serving up meals to customers and clearing tables." "I worked for a year at a burger chain delivering good service to customers. Whether it was in serving up a meal or in maintaining a clean dining area, I learned a great deal about catering in general and enjoyed the interaction with customers."The first statement may be factual, but there is no indication of what your work ethic is - did you dragyourself in reluctantly for your shift, avoided work as much as possible and couldnt wait for the end ofthe day in order to "escape"? Or were you a willing worker that got on well with colleagues andcustomers and learned and grew on the job?The second statement, however, says much more about your attitudes and abilities - the impression itgives is that you: • were a willing worker, • applied yourself to whatever task was required, • took notice of the other activities around you, • learned new skills, • interacted with customers in a positive way, • would probably be an asset in roles where you were "front of house" and therefore encourage customers to buy more.Which job applicant has already set some preferences in their favour, in the mind of the personreading their application? It may be the smallest difference, but one which might mean that yourapplication goes through to the next round in preference to the other.Lets look at the statements in more detail and understand the hidden messages in each component. "I worked for a year at a burger chain .. 9
  10. 10. You reinforced that you worked at this job for a year. Considering this is likely to be a low-paid job in an industry with high staff turnover, you are demonstrating a level of commitment and also satisfaction by your employers. .... delivering good service to customers...... You have a concept of a value system called "Good Service". This is a boon in any industry, but especially those with direct dealings with customers. .... Whether it was in serving up a meal or in maintaining a clean dining area,.... You served up meals and cleaned tables, but you are also showing that you have a concept of another value system called "Cleanliness" and you are "results" focused - the emphasis being put on the end result of a clean dining area i.e. you did what had to be done to achieve the desired outcome. ... I learned a great deal about catering in general... Even though your main focus was on waiting on table, this shows that you paid attention to the whole operation of the business and therefore learned much more in the process. ... and enjoyed the interaction with customers... When someone enjoys their work, they put more energy into it. It also shows that you have a rapport with people and would likely suit other roles where you were directly involved with customers.You can see just how much more you can get out of a couple of sentences by "value adding" withappropriate key words that represent positive characteristics or value systems.It is similar in approach to that used by advertising, where certain concepts and values in the viewerare invoked as they read. The reviewer makes a sub-conscious connection between what is fact andwhat is their own judgement and comes to a conclusion which is more than the sum of the parts thatyou have written down.Be careful, however, that when you are value adding your own CV or Résumé, that the end resultdoesnt look or sound like an advert or marketing campaign. You should aim to get your messageacross in a natural way and avoid anything that seems false or contrived.Practical ExerciseGet out your latest CV or Résumé and read how you have described yourself and the jobs that youhave done.See how you can re-phrase each description, each job activity in a way that sends positive messagesabout your abilities. See if you can "value add" your own words.This is a good exercise to do in pairs, especially with someone who doesnt know you very well. Afteryou have re-written a section, get the other person to read it and tell you their first impression. 10
  11. 11. SummaryEssential PointsHere again are the essential points to remember when compiling your CV or Résumé: • One size doesnt fit all! One CV or Résumé doesnt fit all situations - custom fit each application to the job you are targeting • Presentation - your application needs to be clear, legible, organised and formatted according to any instructions given • Sell yourself in the first paragraph or you wasted your time writing it • Value add your words to create a positive impression, more than the mere facts describe • Avoid any negative issues, criticisms or derogatory remarks - mud sticks! • Get the priorities right. Ensure the most important information is the first to be read in each section i.e. most recent career history, highest qualification • Key words - make sure that you have used all the significant words that are relevant to the job being targeted. • You get out, what you put in! The end results depend to a large extent on the amount of effort you put in to creating your CV or Résumé, in the first place.There you have it - the basic ingredients for writing a "killer" CV or Résumé. Armed with thisinformation you should be able to do a good makeover on your current CV or Résumé and apply foryour next job with a more targeted approach.However, dont stop there - look at job agencies in your area and on the Internet for any usefultemplates that will help you format and present your personal information in a way that is suitable foryour location or the industry that you work in. You will also find references below which may assistyou further.Happy job hunting! 11