Sell yourself: CV tips
How to sell yourself when the product is you
by Holly Boville, Employability Manager at Nottingham Trent SU.
Writing your CV can be a daunting task, and deciding where to start is a tough challenge. Unfortunately nobody can write your CV for you, but we can tell you a little about what organisations are looking for when they request a copy of your CV.
We all know that your CV must sell you to a prospective employer, and help you to compete against other applicants who are also trying to sell themselves. Obviously your curriculum vitae must be presented professionally, clearly, and in a way that indicates you are an ideal candidate for the job - but what does this actually mean?
Your personal statement should be relevant to the job you are applying for
Your personal statement is your introduction to your potential employer, so it’s extremely important that you get it right. It is an opportunity for you to present your goals, experiences and qualifications in the best possible light as well as demonstrating your written communication and other skills.
It is important that you tailor your statement to the job for which you are applying. Keep it clear, concise and use similar wording to what is expressed in the job advert.
Briefly cover your key strengths; employers will be interested in fresh candidates who can demonstrate reliability, self-motivation, drive and enthusiasm. This may be through part time jobs, a hobby or charity work.
It’s obvious that lying in a CV is a risky business (especially about qualifications) so it’s best not to do so. If you find it tough to match your skills to the requirements of the role, then perhaps it’s just not meant to be. Even if you manage to blag it through to the interview stage, you will probably struggle to demonstrate these skills when asked any technical questions.
Start with your current/most recent study/work experience and be sure to explain any gaps, such as time spent travelling
So you have probably heard that many employers will only recruit ‘experienced people’. Some are firm about this; others can be persuaded to consider an applicant who has special qualities but little or no experience - it depends on the job and the needs of the employer.
Most organisations will be interested to see what you have been doing most recently, whether this be university, placement or part time work; tell them about it.
If you don’t have experience in employed work, look for other examples in your life which proves that you have the right attitude and potential, and can be seen as a relevant transferable experience.
Travelling and taking a gap year can provide you with great opportunities to learn and gain experience in various fields; maybe you have volunteered with a charity, moved abroad or were on placement. Show that you kept up to date by studying the local newspaper’s business pages, or by watching the news. This can demonstrate to employers that you are enthusiastic and willing to invest your own time in making a positive contribution to help others and to help yourself.
Make sure the dates, grades and referee details are correct
Demonstrate that you are reliable by ensuring all the information you provide on your CV is correct and up to date. According to a report by The Guardian, 59% of employers say they have to withdraw job offers after receiving poor references or inaccurate qualification details about successful applicants.
The research highlighted that these are the most common CV inaccuracies:
- Employment dates (length of, dates from and to)
- Job titles
- Gaps between employment
Check it over for spelling or grammatical errors and ask a third party to do so as well
It may seem obvious but it’s a common mistake that people make. A 2012 survey by The Telegraph stated that one of the biggest reasons that CVs were ‘thrown out’ was because of simple spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Make sure you check before you submit your CV to a potential employer.
It’s great getting your mum or your gran to check over your work, but unless they are a careers advisor or a human resources manager it’s unlikely they will be as objective as you need them to be. Make an appointment to see your local careers advisor, who can give you some valuable feedback which just may be the difference between getting an interview and not!