The Questions Your CV Really Needs to Answer

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Many people don’t appreciate just how important their CV is to finding a job. That might sound really obvious, but take a look at your CV now. Does it grab your attention? Has it got just the right amount of detail without being too long? Is there enough information about your key achievements?

When reviewing and updating your CV, look at it from the perspective of the recruiter or hiring manager and ask yourself these questions.

  1. Have I included my personal details? This one is really about general housekeeping but make sure that you have included your name, address (this can be a general location as opposed to your full address) the best telephone number to contact you on and an email address that you check on a regular basis. Also remember that if you are applying for jobs outside the UK, there are a number of countries where it is essential to include date of birth, nationality, marital status and a recent photograph!
  2. Where have I produced results? Although you may be tempted to copy and paste your role responsibilities from your Job Description under the corresponding Job Summary on your CV, this doesn’t tell the recruiter how successful you have been in your career. Think of five or six examples of where you have excelled. Provide details of cost savings or increased revenue (percentages or monetary figures) that you have been responsible for. Why should the company hire you instead of one of the other candidates? Show them how you have benefitted the organisations that you have worked for.
  3. Are there any unexplained gaps in my employment? In the current economic climate, it will not be unusual to have career gaps, but it is important to explain any large periods of unemployment. For example, were you raising a family? Did you go back to college to obtain further industry-specific qualifications? Did you take time out to fulfil a life-long ambition to travel the world? Even if you were looking for work but were taking on pro bono assignments or volunteering for a local charity, be sure to mention these on your CV
  4. What companies have I worked for previously? Prospective employers are really keen to know where you have worked before as it can indicate if you have the right experience and skills and knowledge of their particular sector. For large, blue chip organisations it may not be necessary to provide a description of the business but for smaller, more local companies it is a good idea to provide a one line description including main area of business, revenue and number of employees
  5. Have I received an education and training relevant to the job? If it has been a number of years since you gained your O’levels (or GSCEs) and they are not relevant to the role you are applying, then it is not necessary to list these on your CV. However, remember to provide detail of your degree and other college qualifications, although you do not need to add the year that you studied these. Also, if you have attended in-house training courses that will add weight to your application, then make sure that you include these.
  6. Does my CV match the job specification? And lastly, although it is a great idea to have a general CV, when you are applying for a particular role, take some time to ‘tweek’ the document. Read through the job specification that accompanies the job advert and check it against your CV to ensure that you have included all your relevant experiences and skills. Move things around so that the applicable achievement or job responsibilities appear at the top of the corresponding paragraph.

If your CV can answer all of these questions, then you stand more of a chance of being selected for interview. Happy job-hunting!

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