How to write a CV that gets you to interview

Job search is a marketing exercise, with you being both the product and the salesperson. Online tools such as Linkedin, video CVs,  twitter and blogs are increasingly being used in recruitment but the CV document is still the most common method used to assess who is asked to interview.

The CV is your prime marketing tool – its aim is to create interest quickly and set you apart from your competitors.

There are two main types of CV:

–    A reverse chronological format going back through your job history starting with your most recent position, useful if you are planning a career move in the same field as previous jobs.

–    A functional format concentrating on key skill areas, useful if you’re thinking about a change of career, or wish to emphasise skills or experience gained some time ago.

The exercise of completing a functional skills CV is a great way to focus your mind on what exactly you have to offer, so even if you are not planning to use it – if, for instance you are targeting the public or charity sectors where CVs are not always required– it’s well worth writing one. It provides a good basis for filling in application forms and preparing for competency based interviews, since it requires you to give evidence for the skills you want to highlight.

If you are using your CV for the advertised job market, aim for a clearly laid-out document of two pages maximum. (For consultancy, academic or interim CVs more detail is appropriate). Check headings and font size to ensure they are consistent and direct the reader through the document.   Put your name on a footer in case the second page becomes detached from the first.

After your name and contact details, it is helpful to the reader if you start with a short profile, and definitely give one if you are writing a functional CV.  Answer  (very briefly) the question ‘what am I?’ and ‘what have I done?’ , eg  ‘Creative marketing professional who has successfully supported the launch of several SMEs…’  Stick to specifics rather than using clichés such as ‘a proactive people orientated executive… ’.

Try to substantiate your work experience with specific achievements.  Use the formula:

did this with this result’

For example:

–   Led the implementation of a marketing strategy which led to pipeline orders in excess of £2.2M, an increase of 25% YOY.

This highlights how your skills and achievements benefited your previous employer(s) and shows what problems you solved, rather than just giving a list of duties which prove no more than adequate competence.

Ask several people to read over it to check for typos and give their comments. Everyone will have a different view, so take on board what they say but you decide what the end result will be – it’s about you after all!