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How to Write a CV

A resume is the first impression a prospective employer has of you. It is a tool companies use to shortlist appropriate candidates, so it’s critical to make a notable mark on paper.

Your resume – ideally short, sharp and succinct – should provide a snapshot of your working history, attained qualifications and, to add that personal touch and highlight a point of difference, one paragraph on your personal interests and career aspirations.

Here are some frequently asked questions and handy tips that will make your resume outstanding and a firm contender for the shortlist –

1. What do I include and in what order?

There are four basic pillars of information about your professional self that you need to detail. This includes, in order of presentation –

  1. Personals – your name, address, phone numbers and email. You may also want to include one paragraph that summarises your career objective to add a distinctive and personal touch.
  2. Qualifications – start with your most recent training and education accomplishments. If you are tertiary, or higher, qualified, you do not need to detail your high school certificates.
  3. Employment history – In chronological order, provide information on no more than five most relevant roles you’ve held. Remember, unless you are a graduate or school leaver, nobody considers your first job as a casual retail assistant as fundamental to the IT or engineering role you are applying for. So, after listing the Company name, your role/responsibilities and period of employment, detail your achievements.
    Gaps in time or between roles need to be addressed. Be honest with what you did in that time.
  4. Interests – Your hobbies and passions should be included as a last point. Where possible, highlight those interests that are complementary to the role you are applying for. For example recreational initiatives that demonstrate team orientated activities, leadership responsibilities and practical skills are favourably received.

2. Does one size fit all?

No. While your resume must always be truthful and honest, remember you have approximately three pages to impress the employer so only include relevant information. Detail only the necessary experience, knowledge, achievements and skills set. If you’re applying for several roles, it is highly recommended your resume is tailored to each application. Secondly, ensure your personal details are up to date.

3. Will a long resume make me appear highly experienced and therefore impressive?

Your resume should not be longer than three to four pages, even for those with a highly technical IT and engineering background. Experience has shown us that a prospective employer won’t spend more than two minutes on a resume, and that’s on a good day.

4. So do I just list all my most recent roles and responsibilities?

No. Avoid lists and only include the most relevant experience. Alongside each role you’ve held, highlight your achievements and the difference you made to that Company. Remember short and succinct, yet powerful, statements. Demonstrate, where possible and appropriate, your outcomes in numbers and be prepared to talk to these figures.

5. How creative should I get with the presentation of my resume in order to achieve cut through?

Your resume should be clearly and simply presented. This means –

  • Keep language formal but avoid jargon
  • Use sub headings
  • A simple font – 12 Arial
  • Spell and grammar check your resume at least three times
  • Ensure the document is well spaced
  • Use quality paper and photocopying

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