Writing a Winning Cv

CV writing was, I thought, an obvious matter – just stick to a few simple rules. My experience as an employer (15 years of running my own business) has clearly indicated otherwise. It is almost painful seeing the way some people throw away the opportunity to get the job they wanted just because they couldn’t be bothered.

Even if you are fresh from school and have little to offer experience-wise, there is always something to write – don’t forget this is a Curriculum Vitae; it records your life and not just what you did from 9am to 5pm weekdays.

First of all, what functions does a well-presented CV have to perform?

A CV has to provide the minimum of information the employer has asked for.
A CV is about impressing the employer into giving you an interview for the job you want.
A CV has to give your contact information so that they can get in touch with you rapidly.

Answering the question
It is highly frustrating wading through CV’s which simply fail to ‘answer the question’. For example, the advert said clearly to give details of your supervisory responsibilities over the last 3 years but your CV only says where you worked. All this tells me about you is that a) you can’t be bothered and b) if I were to give you the job, you would not pay attention to the details.

Make sure you answer the question. If you can’t then say so but try to offer something in its place. For example, the last 3 years you may have worked on your own but, before that, you had a team working under you – tell them about when you were in charge of people, that’s what they want to know.

There is no need for colored fonts, huge graphics or anything particularly but do make sure that the envelope fits the CV when it is folded no more than once. Make sure that you print an original CV and don’t send a photocopy – it will look just like what it is. Use vellum or light-blue or light-green colored paper to get seen. That may put one or two off (who don’t like individualism) but many will appreciate how easy it is to spot your CV in a heap (I’ve had up to 500 to wade through at a time) and will like the originality.

Don’t forget the short covering note saying why this job is for you. Find something original to say, research the company on the internet and see who their major clients are, what their most popular service is or anything which shows that you have taken the trouble and that says very loudly that you are the right person for this employment.

Contact details
The number of times I have had a CV with the phone number missing or incorrect is terminally shocking. How can you expect to be called for an interview for a job if no-one can contact you? Put your name, address, phone number, mobile number, email address etc at the top of the first page and on the covering letter (in case it gets separated).

Never lie on a Curriculum Vitae – don’t even think about it. I had a problem once because the employer I had been working for had fired me (because I would not get involved in handing out bribes). For legal reasons I couldn’t put this on my CV so I wrote in the covering letter that I would be ‘pleased to discuss my last employment in a open and candid manner at interview if I were being actively considered for the job’. It gave the interviewer something very different to ask me in comparison to the other candidates (he later thanked me – it had been deadly dull until then apparently!). I got the job and the company that fired me has since gone bankrupt.

Happy job-hunting and good luck with that CV.

Clive West was a company director for many years working alongside his wife, Damaris. During this time and in his previous role in the construction industry he dealt with many thousands of CV’s and applications. Read more of his helpful guides or free information.

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