The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect CV: 10 Tips
The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect CV: 10 Tips
Let’s make it clear, there is no universally accepted format for your CV, but there are ways to make your CV stand out and be counted. This article will guide you through the process of developing your CV and make the most of your skills and experience so far. To give you an idea of the flexibility and confusion CV writing can bring about, here’s a list of 5 CV variables which have been debated ever since Leonardo da Vinci made the first ‘professional profile’ in 1482;
– How long should my CV be?
– Format: should it be a PDF or a Word document?
– What should the layout be? (e.g., summary, then experience, then education?)
– How should it be designed? (simple, or express yourself in unique design?)
– Should I include personal information, age, sex, hobbies, and interests?
So … where do you start?
- Download your LinkedIn profile as a PDF
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is 100% complete then download your profile as a PDF by following these instructions;
This will give you your CV foundation. LinkedIn has a step-by-step format for filling out all important information regarding your professional self. The downloaded profile PDF will give you a document with contains all appropriate information to refer to.
- Decide on Your Design and Format
Nothing says ‘IT Skills’ better than a well-designed CV. Your CV design & layout needs to have the following attributes;
– Is extremely easy to read and follow
– Has an attractive and subtle overall design
– Is available in word format and PDF
– Has no more than 5 individual sections (see step 3)
– Is no longer than 3 pages (you can have an ‘extended CV’, available if requested)
MS Word (or equivalent) is always your starting point. You can make exceptionally well-designed CVs with Publisher or Acrobat after you have developed a Word-based CV. You can find a great selection of free CV templates for Word here http://www.hloom.com/download-professional-resume-templates/
- What Order and Which Sections to Include?
Again, there is no universally accepted rule here. Everybody’s professional skillset is different and you should tailor your selected ‘sections’ to highlight your most important attributes. For example, Clinicians may want to highlight their certifications and qualifications, sales personnel will want to highlight revenue generating achievements, recent graduates will want to showcase their degree/internship performance. Research personnel, publications and projects, etc
Here’s a list of possible sections;
– Heading & Summary (always first, mandatory)
– Qualifications, certifications, and training
– Employment history
– Career achievements
– Sales overview
– References and recommendations
– Interests, hobbies, personal profile
– Honours and awards
– Publications & research
Include no more than 5 sections (including heading and summary) in your main CV. If you have a long list of qualifications and certification, then consider leaving that until last. If your education is short and impressive, consider opening your CV with it. You want to develop your strongest attributes first, then back them up with the essentials/necessities. An employment history is almost always essential, and should start with your most recent role, working backwards. Let’s have a look at the most common sections and how to write them.
- Heading and Summary
The heading/summary is the only part of the CV which, in my eyes, is a necessity and should always come first. It should include your name, your titles, contact information (including LinkedIn URL), and a 3-line introduction. Here’s an example below;
With your summary, you need to grab your readers attention and entice them to read on. Remember, the whole point of your CV is to secure an invitation to interview, or make a recruiter call you. Introduce yourself, list some impressive career achievements, then tell the reader exactly what you want. It’s imperative to avoid the clichés. Don’t be afraid to list the companies who excite you, especially if sending a CV direct to said companies. Here’s 2 summary examples;
– Cardiology IT Sales Executive who holds Masters in Business Admin. Proven track record of hitting 120%+ OTE with annual billings of over £6m and average capital sales of £300k. Looking to join McKesson, Philips, or GE and drive forward new business within HCIT.
– Healthcare IT Project Manager with Hons Business Management & PRINCE 2 Pract. Managed 13 HCIT projects over 15 year career all within budget (£7m+) and timescale for both NHS and vendors. Looking for new UK-based PACS, EPR, or LIMS project to manage.
If your degree and education is impressive and relevant, then this is the standard section to follow your summary. I would advise to keep this short and sweet, let’s have a look at the example;
The example neatly lists the top 3 module marks underneath each degree. The final classification was a 2:2! Remember, we want to secure an interview. Consider your entire skillset and life achievements, the CV should showcase the top 30%, the rest of the 70% can be discussed at interview.
- Employment History
The reader will have spent around 30 seconds taking in the first 2 sections and should now be motivated to read on and discover your employment history in full attention. Things can get complex if you’ve had multiple roles at one company, but as a rule of thumb you need to list;
– Start date and end date regarding tenure in said company
– Company name
– Role (and dates of said role responsibilities)
– 3-5 bullet points expanding on responsibilities and achievements in each role.
As a rule, take 2 bullet points to list your roles responsibilities, and another 2 expanding on achievements and highlights. Employees are hired to ultimately do 2 things, generate revenue, or reduce expenditure and you should try and talk in these terms. Project Managers should discuss timeframes, budgets, and efficiency increases. Sales personnel should talk in terms of revenue generation. Managers should discuss staff retention, YoY department growth, operations, etc.
Again, here’s the example;
Think about what matters to your those who will read your CV. In the example, how much he bills, what sectors he works within, and the type of clients he serves are important. Main employment positions are expanded upon, whereas earlier roles are simply summarised to fill in the gaps for those reading, keeping the CV short and to the point.
- Other Sections and Completing the CV
The 3 sections above are the bread and butter of your CV, and as the example candidate has a short career, he can fit it all onto just a single page. As discussed in point #3, it depends on your skill set and profession as to other sections you include. Whatever the section, it should be short and sweet, highlighting the very best of you. A list of 3 ‘recommendations’ from senior personnel can be hugely beneficial and easy to obtain. If you have some great achievements and interests outside of work, then a ‘further information’ section can prove to be advantageous. If you work in sales, a year on year review of your target performance and overall revenue generation would be great!
- SEO & Job Boards
If you’re serious about finding another role, then it would be beneficial to upload your CV onto a variety of job boards (Indeed, Monster, CV Library, Reed, etc) so Recruiters can find you. Recruiters search the databases of CVs by using Boolean searches, which bring up CVs according to inputted keywords. A brilliant trick when uploading a CV to job boards is to dedicate an entire page to keywords associated with your desired job. For example, if you’re looking for a sales role in Healthcare IT, then copy and paste a paragraph of words such as “Sales” “Sales Executive” “Sales Manager” “Sales Specialist” “Healthcare” “Healthcare IT” “HCIT” – You get the point. The more that keyword appears, the higher up the search you will appear. It’s also important to upload your CV frequently as Recruiters order searches by date added. Every 3 days would be sufficient.
- I’ve Created a CV, What Now?
Depending on your situation, you may want to upload the CV to job boards as suggested above. If you’re looking to be discreet about your search, then working with a Headhunter within your specific niche can be hugely beneficial. A good Headhunter will be able to consult with you regarding current openings, know Hiring Managers who would be interested in your skillset, and decide what your next steps should be. If you can’t find a suitable Headhunter, then consider approaching an agency who operates in your wider sector. A list of healthcare recruitment agencies in the UK can be found here:
Radiology IT, Cardiology IT, and Pathology personnel can contact me: www.thencavasgroup.co.uk and receive the benefits of working with a sector-specific Headhunter.
Alternatively, you should try and place your CV into the hands of Hiring Managers at your current or previous employer’s competitors. A simple LinkedIn search can give you the name of the people you need to ask for, or if you’re already connected, consider sending an InMail them. Develop a list of companies you would love to work for, then get to work putting your CV in their inbox.
If it’s clear to everybody that you’re looking for a new role and you have no secrets to hide, then you can attach your CV to your LinkedIn profile summary.
- Do’s & Don’ts
- Keep everything in the same font
- Use bullet points where reasonably practical and get to the point
- Keep the length under 3 pages, 2 pages maximum if possible
- Supply PDF & Word versions of your CV
- Adapt your CV specifically for individual roles or companies
- Include hyperlinks to personal websites and LinkedIn profile
- The words Curriculum Vitae, CV, resume, etc
- Your photograph
- Non-essential personal information
- Long sentences
- A-levels or GSCE’s unless you’re a fresh graduate
- The word ‘I’
- Innovated design features you’re not sure about, keep it somewhat simple and elegant
- Cliché words such as: self-starter, motivated, driven, enthusiastic, reliable, quick learner, etc