Put yourself in the shoes of your friendly neighbourhood recruiter who arrives at his desk bright eyed and bushy tailed at 8:30 one Monday morning to find 150 responses to that advertisement he placed on Friday afternoon for an ITIL Service Delivery Manager. He now has the unenviable task of going through each of those CVs to find the best three to put forward to his client by 5:00pm the same day.
Being only human the first approach is a quick "skim"and the CVs tend to go one of three ways - YES, MAYBE, NO
Your only purpose in submitting your CV is to ensure that your CV goes in the YES column.
Think of your CV in terms of "screens" (not pages) because that's what the recruiter is going to look at when he opens your CV. So you need to be absolutely sure to include the information that will make him say "YES" when he views that first screen.
Please don't write one of those CVs that fill the entire first screen with absolutely useless information. If you write CURRICULUM VITAE in 18 point characters across the top with your name and address on 5 separate lines followed by a lengthy list of your GCSE O and A level results, not to mention your clean driving licence and the fact that you are a non smoker you will have filled the entire first screen without saying anything that will persuade our recruiter to read on.
That CV might go on to say that you are a Guru of the Service Delivery World but unfortunately it's probably already gone into the NO file.
You must place key information about your skills, experience and achievements into the first screen of your CV, otherwise it probably won't get read.
So here are some fundamental rules for writing your CV.
Rule number 1
Do use a clear type face. This is entirely a matter of choice but most serif type faces (like Times New Roman) were designed to look nice on the printed page whereas our expectation is that most recipients will now be reading your CV on a computer screen. So the rule is to keep your typeface nice and clear. My recommendation would be Arial or Helvetica.
Rule number 2
Don't waste 5 separate lines writing your name and address. You can start off with your name in about a 14 point followed by your address and contact details including your e-mail address in 8 point on the next 2 lines. Only use two lines for your address and contact details, you can't afford to waste this valuable space.
Rule number 3
Following your name and contact details the next item should be your PROFILE.
This is the single most important part of your CV.
You need to write a very concise profile of who you are and what you do. I suggest you use no more than six lines and this "body text" should ideally be in 10 point. This profile is most likely to be what the recruiter reads straightaway. If it doesn't match his job requirement he's going to put you in the "NO" folder.
So you must try to tailor the profile to the specific job that you are applying for. Remember our recruiter is looking for key words from his job spec.
Let's assume that, in part, his job spec (and the job advertisement) is asking for:
ITIL Certification -Strong Team Management -Strong experience of Service Delivery Management -Strong track record of Financial Services
Your PROFILE needs to reflect at least this experience. For example:
A highly skilled Service Delivery Manager with the ITIL Service Management Expert Certification. Fully conversant with the latest IT innovations, delivering solutions which utilise cutting-edge technologies. Currently managing a team of ten and with a strong track record of success in the Financial Services Sector. This experience is complimented by strong analytical, problem solving and communication skills.
That profile will almost certainly encourage our Recruiter to read on and will probably get that candidate short-listed for the Service Delivery Manager role.
Remember the first "screen" of the first page of your CV is what really counts. It's all the recruiter is going to look at initially and he's probably only going to look for about 10 seconds. I strongly recommend that you tailor this Profile to each specific job application. I'm not suggesting that you distort your experience and I'm assuming that you wouldn't be applying for the job unless you have the basic skills required, but you do need to ensure that the contents of your Profile reflect the requirements of the particular job you are applying for. What you are doing is making the recruiter's job as easy as possible. Make sure you give him what he's looking for!
Now let's move on down the first page of your CV. Following your PROFILE you need to add roughly five Key Achievements that provide evidence to support the Profile you have written. These need to be impressive and I would suggest that you write them cliche free. Instead they need to be solid achievements that are relevant to the role that you are applying for and that will be meaningful to your potential employer.
Selecting these key achievements is really important and will also get you thinking about what you have really achieved in your career and more importantly what will get you that interview.
Ideally you should have a "library" of at least 10 key achievements and place the five that you feel are most appropriate in the list for each job application. These key achievements will also provide useful ammunition for questions at interview.
The next important section should be a matrix of your technical skills. I would recommend grouping these by category. (eg. Operating Systems, Development Tools, RDBMS etc.)
From this point on you can start to list your jobs. Don't use obscure job titles that are unique to your organisation but will be meaningless to other employers. My advice would be to modify job titles so that they are clearly understandable and indicate exactly what you did in the job.
Make sure that you list five or six key achievements for each job and of course you can include your full "library" of Key Achievements used earlier in the CV.
Always state clearly why you left each job and make sure that that you account for the whole of your career and that there are no blank periods. If you took a 6 month planned career break to renovate your house then say so, don't leave a blank.
The final part of your CV should include your Education and Professional Training and your Personal Details which should include your Nationality. If you are not a British or an EU Citizen then you need to indicate on what basis you are able to work in the UK.
Remember that you do not need to include your date of birth. Because of the Age Discrimination Act recruiters should not ask for your age, although bear in mind that employers are entitled to know your date of birth at the time they offer you a position.
In some respects these guidelines are written for a very conventional CV and of course there are lots of opportunities for innovation and development in this area. For example you might want to place your CV on your personal web site or social networking site and include graphics, video clips etc. however what you have here is a basic working CV that will get you interviews with the majority of recruiters / employers in the UK and that should be your objective.
It's over to you!
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