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CV & Cover Letter Guidance

Writing your CV or professional resume can be an intimidating prospect. This document can literally make or break your chance of getting an audience with a potential employer. It’s how they form their first impression of you, learn about your skill set, and determine whether you’re a good fit with the position they’re hiring for.

It’s critical to put the time and effort into ensuring your CV reflects your core essence and personality, and makes your candidacy stand out from the rest of the pack.

So, how do you write your own CV and craft a presentation that will knock the socks off any prospective employer?

First, remember that every CV is a one-of-a-kind marketing communication. In the following guide, we provide you with the most basic principles of drafting a highly effective CV.

Be Concise

Delete any irrelevant work experience, and give more space to outlining your current or recent jobs. Two pages (three at a push) is the optimum length, without the risk of including unnecessary clutter and boring your potential employer.

Be clear and to the point

Use simple language, avoid jargon, and be sure to select a modern, easy to read font. You don’t want any room for miscommunication, or worse, your CV being tossed aside because it’s illegible. Also, as everything in your CV is about your experience, instead of writing in the 1st or 3rd person, “I was responsible for the brand and corporate PR plan”, just write “Responsible for the brand and corporate PR plan”.

Choose your format

The layout should be easy to read, and your work narrative should be outlined in a logical way, such as reverse chronological order i.e. Most recent relevant job listed first.

Skip the personal profile

It’s actually illegal for an employer to request details such as your age, marital status, religion, or nationality. So, don’t waste precious real estate adding information no longer required. And because most CV’s today are submitted digitally online, we also suggest for security reasons that you omit your date of birth, street address or bank account details.Contact details. You must include your basic information, such as your name, and how you can be contacted, so they can telephone or email you to tell you the good news, “We’d like you to come in for an interview”.

Use important keywords used in the job spec

Recruiters and employers search for keywords, so you need to weave them into your CV if you want to be found. Your goal is obviously to make the shortlist. So, your CV must match most or all of the criteria outlined in the position description. This is increasingly important, as many companies use special software, an Applicant Tracking System.

Make the CV speak to the position you are applying for

This might require drafting a new version for each individual job you are applying for, or just tweaking your current CV to emphasize the actual skills and experience that they ask for.

Break down sections of your CV with headings

This makes your CV more organised, and the structure will make your CV more readable. A professional summary proves your worth and identifies your uniqueness. Summarise your professional skills and experience at the top of your CV. If the employer reads only this part of your CV, they should get the very best of what you have to offer, so make your summary shine.

Work experience

Break your job role down into areas of responsibility, and detail the duties within each area in point form for easy reference. Include employer names, positions held and your major responsibilities. Use those keywords, and language like “managed”, “responsible for”, “supervised”, and “created”. Highlight key achievements you are proud of, and where possible, quote numbers if you contributed to soaring sales or increased subscriptions etc. This shows you as a valuable company asset, and could be for them too.

Account for any holes in your CV

Explain any lengthy periods of time unemployed. They will appreciate your honesty, and it will prevent them being suspicious about the gap.

Education and qualifications

There’s no need to go into too much detail here. Keep it to high level detail, i.e. highest tertiary qualifications achieved, courses and diplomas completed successfully, technical skills, computer skills etc…

Professional references

If they ask for full details of your chosen references in the job listing, then go ahead and give them. If they don’t specify, then at the end of your CV simply state “References are available upon request”. It’s also a good idea to include the URL to your LinkedIn profile, particularly if you have recommendations from former colleagues and managers available there.

Highlight interests or hobbies where relevant

This is particularly important if you are applying for a job in a niche industry, such as gambling or gaming. Do you play online poker in your downtime? Do you have an interest in sports, understand odds, and enjoy an occasional bet on your favorite team? Are you a fantasy sports enthusiast? Whatever your specific interests, make sure the recruiter knows about them, only if they’re relevant to the job and you can talk passionately about them. This could tip the hiring decision in your favor.

Follow the employer’s application instructions to a T

Not only will this demonstrate that you have read the job spec thoroughly and comprehended it, but that you are capable of following directions. For example, CVs and cover letters may be asked for in a particular file format (DOCX, DOC, PDF, TXT, HTM etc…), or you may be required to address the application in a certain way. Attention to detail goes a long way to getting noticed.

Don’t forget to spell check and proof read your CV

Check your spelling carefully, and get a friend to double check it. Many companies will automatically reject CVs with blatant spelling or grammatical errors, so treat this as a crucial step in the process of completing your CV.

We cannot stress enough that you should NEVER LIE on your CV! Do not claim qualifications that you do not have. Increasingly, employers will terminate the employment of, or not employ candidates who cannot provide proof of qualifications or degrees, and certificates.

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