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Writing a CV:

You never get a second chance to make a first impression A CV is one of your entry points into the jobs arena. It's your chance to sing your own praises and make an employer sit up and take notice. So, it's worth taking some time to perfect it. What's more, your CV is the one part of the job-seeking process over which you have total control. There's no pressure, so you can take your time to fine-tune it. But how do you decide which facts to include and which to leave out? How do you sell yourself without coming across as a know-it-all? Well, there are a few easy steps

Your aim is to convince the employer that you have the necessary experience, knowledge and hunger to do the job. Many CVs do nothing more than provide a stark list of job titles and duties; but all companies are results-orientated - so you must emphasise what you've achieved within a role, show how you added value to a company or how you made a difference. Always be honest about your achievements and skills and make sure the information is up to date - just one extra qualification or skill could make all the difference between getting an interview or not.

Personal Details
Start with your personal details (name, address, phone number, age and nationality). Personal Profile Give a short 3 or 4 line personal profile summarising your skills, experience, knowledge - and career aspirations. It's the perfect way to give the employer an overview of your suitability for the job.

Career History
Employers are more interested in what you are doing now, or have done recently. So if you are already in employment, focus on your career history first and then move on to your academic qualifications. (If you are a college-leaver or still in education, start with details of your education and academic achievements.) List all the jobs you have held chronologically, with the most recent first. For each give your job title, the name of the company and the period of employment. Follow this with a description of the role, your key responsibilities and remember to highlight any achievements. For previous jobs keep the details briefer - unless they were more significant in terms of the post you are applying for. Employers are suspicious, so don't leave gaps in your career history. If you took a year out to travel, say so and make a virtue of it. There's no reason to say why you are moving on. That will make a good topic of conversation at the interview.

Qualifications & Education
When it comes to qualifications and professional training, take the same approach as with your employment history. Begin with your most recent qualifications and work back; if you have a degree or higher qualification, there may not be a need to include an extensive list of your junior educational certificates. And if you are in education at the moment, expand on areas of your studies that might be relevant to the post you are applying for.

Be truthful about your leisure interests. If you can tie them in with the job selection criteria, for example, to show that you are a team player, then do so, but never risk claiming something you can't back up at interview. The chances are you'll be found out. If you are just starting out in the job market, give any evidence you can to demonstrate initiative or practical skills, for example, voluntary work, elected office in a society, member of a sports team or contributor to a college magazine. ?

Presentation and Layout
Put yourself in the employer's position. They're busy people - wading through hundreds of CVs is a time-consuming process. Research shows that, on average, managers spend less than two minutes - and often just 30 seconds - examining each CV. So visual impressions count. A jumbled, poorly laid-out CV is an open invitation to move to the next one; a well structured, clear and concise CV encourages the employer to read on.

Key guidelines
2 sides is ideal - certainly no longer
Use subheadings (Career History etc.) wherever possible - they help the reader quickly find information
Keep it well-spaced, so it's easy to read - don't try to squash everything onto the page by using tiny typefaces
Use a simple, clear typeface - fancy fonts and gimmicky design devices do nothing for clarity
Laser-print it on good quality white A4 paper - cheap photocopying paper doesn't impress

Style & Tone
Again, don't make life hard for the employer. Write in a precise, clear style and stick to the point - only include relevant information.
Keep the language formal with short, crisp sentences - your personality will come through at the interview stage
Use active keywords (created, devised, enjoyed, relished, helped, negotiated, managed, liaised, motivated) which have a positive impact
Avoid jargon and abbreviations - the employer may not be aware of what they stand for

Take great care with spelling and grammar - the slightest error can result in your CV being rejected. But don't just run the CV through the spellcheck - that won't identify 'typos', discrepancies or grammatical inconsistencies. Once you have checked the finished document, ask a friend to check again - a fresh pair of eyes often spots a mistake you missed.



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