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How to...smarten up your CV

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Presenting your experience in the most positive and favourable light can be more challenging than you might think. And simply trotting out a list of the jobs you have held and qualifications you possess is not the answer. So how do you give your curriculum vitae a brand new spin or simply smarten it up a bit? Here are some top tips from the experts.

  • Get noticed. Your CV must grab the reader’s eye within 30 seconds attention spans are short. Keep the layout simple, uncluttered and in an easy-to-read font. Use plain white A4 paper and make sure the CV is no more than two pages long.

  • Be succinct. Information you do not need to include: salary details (these can be included in a covering letter if appropriate), referees (these will be requested if you get offered a job), dependent children, marital status, religion, hobbies and other interests. None of these are relevant to your ability to fill a new post.

  • Position yourself. In marketing terms a positioning statement is a concise articulation of the essential qualities of a product or brand and the target market for which it is designed. A personal positioning statement is an extension of this concept. What are your personal qualities? How have these been demonstrated in your career so far? Begin the CV with a short, pithy overview of your specific skills and experiences.

  • Make your history relevant. When outlining your career history to date, list your key achievements in each role, and give examples of what you achieved. Be specific about the number of people you have managed, the size and scope of projects that you have undertaken and targets met by your team.

  • Highlight outcomes. Itemise key skills you have acquired or developed while in each post. For example influencing, communication, business awareness, people management, leadership, project management, planning and specific technical expertise.

  • Education, or experience? In the final section of your CV, list your education, training and qualifications in reverse order. But don’t overdo this section: these are only relevant if they enable you to do your job better, or have been requested by the employer as essential or desirable.

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