Whether you’re at the beginning of your career, looking to re-join the workforce after some time away or just at the next stage of your career, job hunting can seem like a daunting process. In this three-part series I’ll be looking at the key stages of applying, preparing and then interviewing. This well help you tackle each stage in turn and ensure you are fully prepared throughout the process.
Part of the job hunting struggle is just getting started and realising what needs to be included in your CV. Once the CV is ready and applications are out there, next come the interviews, with potential different formats and methodologies. Then it's time to prep, prep and prep some more!
To begin setting out your CV, you need to identify your Career Roadmap. Where do you want to go? What have you achieved on your journey so far? Even if your career so far has been in a different field or sector to where you want it to go, where can you add transferrable value?
Once you’ve created this skeleton for your CV, you can add the details. Include your name and contact details (mobile number and email) and, if you feel it is appropriate, your address or location. Next detail your profile and your objectives. Who are you, what have you done in the past and what are you looking to achieve? You will also need to list your education; any professional designations, certificates and qualifications as well as your technical skills and key achievements. Finally, your previous work experience will also need to be highlighted.
These can be listed in any order, depending on which type of CV you opt for.
Types of CV
The most traditional form of CV is the Chronological. This will highlight your work experience, normally in reverse chronological order, and showcase your accomplishments throughout your career. This is the standard format for those whose experience fits for the new role.
If you are a recent graduate, changing your career, or returning to work after a break a skills-based or functional CV might be a better fit. This will emphasize your education, skills and experience other than your work history. In a skills-based CV, you would structure the CV so your relevant experience (be it through education, self-taught or extra-curricular activities) is most prominent.
You can also combine the two formats, if you believe both are suitable for the role you are applying for. This can sometimes lead to the CV being quite lengthy and drawn out, so you might want to consider summarising your skills and experience in key competencies at the top of your CV.
The key to writing your CV is knowing the story you want to tell. Keep it short and sweet – ideally bullet-pointed, to make it easy to read – and focus on accomplishments, key skills and key technical abilities over day-to-day duties. You should also read the job description for the role you are applying for thoroughly and try to ensure the essential skills and experiences which are relevant to you are mentioned in the CV. You are likely to have to update your CV for each role you apply for. This is particularly important if the organisation you are applying to utilises an Applicant Tracking System, which will be the initial device used to sift through applications, and relies on key words being present in your CV.
Make sure your CV is professional. Don’t use slang or inappropriate language, and, perhaps most importantly, make sure the email address you are using is professional sounding.
You should keep your CV regularly up to date. It’s important to write down what you view as achievements or career milestones as they take place, as by the time you update your CV when applying for jobs you might not remember the finer details of your achievements!
Remember your CV is your story, and it should represent you and your career so far, while also outlining where you wish to take your career.
You are likely to be asked to submit a cover letter as part of your application. This is a few paragraphs detailing why you are applying for the role and is therefore specific to each application. As tempting as it may be to have a standard template, you will need to tailor your cover letter to each individual application, based on the research you have done on the organisation as well as the job description itself.
The cover letter is your chance to sell brand ‘you’ and let your personality and passion shine through, while allowing you to go into detail you might not have space for on your CV.
Make sure it’s concise and to the point though – much like your CV, the cover letter must be easy to read and tell your story!
In the next instalment in the series I'll be exploring all the ways you should be preparing for interviews. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts and want to get in touch, you can find me over here.
The information contained in this article does not constitute business advice and should not be acted on as such. This content is based on our understanding in May 2021. Head Resourcing are not liable for the information contained on any third-party websites linked to this article.