What Cv Template Should You Use To Write Your Cv?
Quite often, many people do not get the chance to sell their skills in front of an interviewing panel because of the first impression they make. Your Cv is the first thing your future employer looks at and is your pathway to the next step in every interview. How good your Cv is determines whether this employer will have a good or bad first impression of who you are hence the need for anyone applying for a job to always make sure their Cv stands out of the competition.
So how do you ensure your Cv stands out? The first and most important step is, knowing what format it should be in. A Cv in the right format is more likely to be read in detail than a Cv that is difficult to read and seemingly disorganized.
With the right Cv format you can be assured that:
- Your Cv will look unique hence captivate any recruiter’s attention out of a batch of hundreds of Cv’s they have to look at.
- Your Cv will spell out all the important information the recruiter is looking for at a glance and make it easy for the recruiter to quickly make a decision on your eligibility.
Three key things to note about writing a Cv:
- Whatever Cv format you choose to go with, ensure you begin by describing your personal details such as your name, age and contacts after which you give a brief description about yourself and some of the qualifications and skills you possess in relation to the job your are applying for.
- Ensure the Cv format you choose does not make your Cv too long. Your Cv should be at most 2 pages of A4. This by any means does not mean that you squash most of the information you have to put across in an effort to shorten the length. It means, make it precise and straight to the point with the most important information. Contrary to the false norm that having a long Cv shows how much experience one has, a long Cv shows your inability to write concisely. Besides, no recruiter has the time to go through a 5 page long Cv. Keep it short with the most relevant information.
- Cv Formats differ based on what information in one’s Cv one chooses to highlight first and in more detail.
Now that you are aware of the advantages of having a good Cv format and what every Cv requires, let’s find out what Cv formats are the most suitable depending on who you are and what job you are applying for.
The Student also, known as the Graduate Cv format; Like the name suggests, if you are a college or university student probably seeking for an internship opportunity or a fresh graduate applying for an entry level job, this format could be the most applicable to you. For many internship and graduate training opportunities, employers do not look for someone with too many skills for the job but someone that can be taught new skills and is open to learning this skills and performing.
Following this format, it is, therefore, important to begin with the, “qualifications section” sighting the qualifications you have that are relevant to the job role such as, you have a degree in Information Technology and are therefore applying to work in the company’s IT Department. Furthermore, go ahead and sight the various coursework and research projects you have worked on that are relevant to the job. Talking about this also gives you an opportunity to highlight some of the skills you have attained through these projects such as research skills, time management skills, interpersonal and teamwork skills to mention but a few.
Be sure to also highlight the skills that put you across as a person that is open to learning new things and is flexible. When a recruiter reads your Cv they should be convinced you are the kind of person that will be able to flourish with a little bit of training and mentorship.
The Performance Cv Format; This Cv format is most applicable to someone that has had quite some work experience and the job they are applying for requires that type of experience. When following this format it is advisable one begins with an “achievements section” sighting the various achievements they could have accomplished in their line of work or service that is relevant to the job they are applying for.
Thereafter, one goes ahead to highlight the most important bit of this type of format which is one’s work experience. Under this section one has to talk about the companies they have worked for, their job titles as an employee in each of these companies, how long one has worked for in the various companies and the roles or responsibilities they were tasked with under the different job titles they held. Be sure to fill in this section starting with the most recent job you have or are currently holding moving backward.
With this format one is able to:
- Highlight the necessary work experience and skills they have for jobs that require some experience.
- Highlight their career growth hence a basis for them to apply for a job of a higher rank than the one they previously held.
- Highlight any well-known and credible companies that could also contribute to the recruiter’s’ decision.
However, this format is not applicable if:
- One does not previously have any work experience.
- Has switched jobs quite often hence worked for quite very many companies. This could often presents one as someone that is not stable enough to hold a job for a long period of time and therefore cannot be relied on.
- One has work gaps for example where they have been out of employment for many years.
- One’s work experience is irrelevant to the job they are applying for.
Although this format is widely used, basing on the above description, it may not be applicable to everyone.
The Functional Cv format; Contrary to the Performance Cv format that focuses on individual job roles and job specific skills, this format focuses on transferable skills that one can easily transfer from one work setting to another. With this format, one highlights their skills and achievements in relation to the job under three to six functional headings. For example, if one is applying for a customer service role, one would include headings such interpersonal skills, communication or leadership skills stipulating the skills they posses under each of these headings in relation to the role.
How one may have attained the skills whether through work experience, or education and how long ago does not necessarily matter with this format. What matters is the skills one has that are relevant to the job.
This Cv Format is most applicable to you if:
- You have had very many jobs and worked for quite a lot of companies. This enables you to highlight all the skills you got from the different jobs without having to portray the bad impression of having been a person that alternated jobs quite a lot.
- You are seeking to enter a new area of work or a new field. For example, if you are applying for a Sales’ job but previously held the role of a Journalist.
- You do not want to leave out certain important skills you may have acquired in the past but have not really practiced in the current or previous job roles you have held.
- If you took a long break from the employment world but have important skills you may have learned along your path for example skills you could have obtained from running your own company and not necessarily those from the companies you worked for.
However, please note that this Cv format is not well-known by many recruiters. It is only advisable to use it only if the above situations apply to you and are to your advantage.
The Targeted Cv format; This format also focuses on the transferable skills one has as opposed to the job roles one has previously held. Although the targeted and functional Cv formats are similar, when using the Targeted Cv format one highlights their skills under only two headings, “Abilities” and “Achievements” as opposed to the Functional Cv format skill headings. As the name suggests, this format is meant to target a specific type of job, therefore, whatever skills one includes should be targeted to the job one is applying for.
Under the “Abilities” heading, one is supposed to highlight the different skills they have that they could have acquired naturally, from their work or from education. To give an employer more understanding about one’s skills, it is important for one to be specific and go ahead and explain further what exactly they have been able to do under these skills, an example could be:
“Research skills – this involves carrying out surveys and interviews, drafting proposals and writing dissertation papers”.
The “Achievements” heading allows one to further highlight their uniqueness as an employee. One should cite those things they accomplished that made them stand out. An example could be:
“Selected as the “employee of the year” for three consecutive times.”
This type of format is most applicable to you if:
- You are trying to target your Cv to a particular job.
- You have some employment gaps.
- You want a career change but most of your previous work experience is not necessarily in line with the career you are looking to go into.
However, if most of your work experience or the companies you have worked for are more relevant to the job you are applying for, this Cv format would not be advisable for you as it would push back your most important information to the back end or second page of your Cv.
When choosing a Cv format, it is also important to note that your profession also has a role to play. For example, a lawyer and a graphic designer will often not be advised to use the same Cv format. Most of the Cv formats above could apply for the lawyer but may not be the best for a graphic designer. So what is the most advisable Cv format for a graphic designer or someone trying to show off their creativity such as an advertising executive, artist or any other profession meant to showcase one’s creative side? The answer to this is:
The Alternative Cv Format; Because such a format is often used by the advertising, designing and creative professions, it is usually original and more customized to the owner and what exact creative or original side of themselves they want to portray in relation to the job they are applying for.
- For one applying for a job as a graphic or visual designer, they could go ahead and print their Cv on some decorative paper showcasing their skills.
- For another person applying for a job as a media person, they could include a short video showcasing their work.
- For one applying for a job in the advertising department of a company. They could go ahead and present their format as an Ad.
There are really various alternative Cv options one can use. One just has to customize these options to themselves and the kind of job they are applying for.
However, before you settle for this format it is important to be sure that the employer or recruiter you are sending this Cv to is well conversant and understands what you are trying to put across. A recruiter who understands the more traditional formats, or is more corporate may find this Cv format a bit unprofessional.
Now that you understand the different types of Cv formats, do remember that regardless of the format you use, the information you put across in your Cv is the most important and is what will help you get ahead of the competition. Picking the right Cv format further, increases your chances to stand out of the pile. The Cv format you choose should highlight the most important information that makes you unique and stand out of the crowd. If the type of format or design you have in mind affects this very important information, you are better off playing it safe with another format. All in all, pick a format that will make you stand out of your competition and earn you that job interview.
The 7 seconds of CV Reading
Owing to the ever-increasing number of job seekers, the job market has become highly competitive. A single advertisement on job sites and company websites can elicit over 150 applications from eager candidates. Some industries are highly popular and they possess low barriers of entry e.g. sales. Such industries might receive over 300 applications for a single advert.
To a human resource professional on the receiving end of these applications, it is, without doubt a rather daunting task looking for the perfect fit in a sea of applications. The human resource experts have, therefore, grasped CV reading skills that allow them to skim through CVs in 7 seconds or less, for what they consider important. This is the stage where CVs are shortlisted and proceed to the next stage. This means that as a candidate you have 7seconds to convince the person skimming through your CV that you are worth the shot.
You have to ensure that you are aware of what a recruiter looks at when skimming through your CV and understand what catches their attention. Below are the areas that will make your CV stand out;
Your CV Format
The recruiter has limited time and if they find your CV format difficult to decipher, it will go down to then bottom of the list. Ensure that the format you use is appropriate for the particular industry, and that it is simple to read.
Highlight the Important Sections
It is important to ensure that the important sections in your CV are clearly highlighted on the first page. Details like your bio data i.e name, address, email address, telephone number should be clear. Avoid non-important details like your height, tribe, and marital status. Questions about them will be asked if the interviewer deems it necessary.
Apart from your bio data, information about your qualifications, skills and work experience should be touched on in the first page of your CV. Your current work experience should be highlighted as it is of more importance to the recruiter.
Highlight then tittles in your work experience
It is important that you clearly outline roles and timelines in your work experience. When looking at your work experience, the recruiter seeks to know what positions you held in different companies and for how long. Lack of this information makes you look dodgy and raises red flag. Also, this is another reason for your CV to go to the bottom of the list.
Turn-over is a factor
How long you last with various employers is crucial information for any potential employer. This is because it usually sets a trend in your professional life and it is a clear indicator of how long you might last if hired. Do not let this hinder you from getting your dream job. Separate your internships and short term contracts from your permanent positions to avoid the illusion of short tenures.
Little things have the potential to make or ruin your first impression. Be careful and thorough to ensure that dates are correct, the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed. Typos and bad grammar will definitely make your CV an eyesore.
How to grab attention with your CV
Taking care of the above pointers puts you out of harm’s way, but still doesn’t guarantee shortlisting. To ensure that you get the chance to showcase your suitability as a candidate in an interview, you need to convince the recruiter that you are the solution to their business’s pain.
Understand the company by going through their website and other resources. Such information will help you formulate relevant and informed answers and to align your solutions with the company’s existing operations. It will make you more relevant if you can support the information in your CV and cover letter with significant points of action on how you will be of value.
When talking about your skills and achievements, be specific. For instance, stating that you possess customer service skills or interpersonal skills is cliché. State how you reduced customer complaints in your previous company by X%. Figures catch the attention of the reader and they will want to know more.
Such compelling information should be what the potential employer sees first instead of tired CV phrases present in every other application they receive.
Finally, customize your CV for each application to ensure its relevance and to avoid cluttering it with unnecessary information, which may ruin your chances of nailing that interview.