A good CV or resume in itself cannot get you a job. However, a bad CV can prevent you from even getting an interview, so it’s worth spending extra time on preparing a document that will immediately impress prospective employers. Generally, people make resumes far more detailed that they need be. A simple format is both easy to set out and easy to read. Detailed below is what you should include and how the information should be structured.
This should always head the resume.
Personal information should be kept to a minimum; your religion or children’s ages are really not necessary. It is not advisable to include a summary of personal characteristics - many potential employers view them with scepticism, which is likely to have a negative effect upon your application.
Recruiters like to see details of all qualifications, from school qualifications to degrees and professional qualifications. Any work related training should also be outlined only if it is relevant. Knowledge of any foreign languages is considered important and should be listed.
List past employment details in reverse chronological order, with the most recent first, always devoting the most space to your most recent or current position. Names of past employers, along with the dates of appointments and a brief outline of responsibilities, are essential, although some employers also like to see a brief description of the companies and a summary of their business. You do not need to include exact dates – month and years are sufficient. With regard to your current job, don’t include your company telephone number unless your boss is aware that you want to leave. Never provide salary information on the CV. If such information is specifically requested, detail it in the covering letter. Always include your specific contributions to each job – note that job-related responsibilities and achievements should be listed with each entry rather than in a separate section. List any affiliation to relevant professional associations. Never give reasons for termination or leaving a job on your CV – the reader could easily attach negative connotations to such information. It’s easier to discuss this in person. There is no need to state 'References available on request' – it goes without saying and just clutters up the CV.
Hobbies and interests that are not directly related to the position should be kept to a minimum – 2 or 3 lines are enough.
Always print the CV on standard A4-sized white paper with matching envelopes. Although most recruiters tend not to favour professionally written CVs, presentation is very important, so ensure it has been typed or word processed. There is no need to have it professionally printed. Leave plenty of space between paragraphs, and allow adequate margins. Use plain English, and make sure both the CV and covering letter are error free – proofread them thoroughly! Keep paragraphs short – preferably no longer than five or six lines. The entire CV should not exceed two pages in length, although some candidates, whose breadth of experience requires more space, may be able to justify a CV that runs three pages. Always send a brief customised letter with any CV you send out. Don’t include the date a CV was prepared – it will only shorten the life of your CV and make it seem prematurely out of date. Never state specific objectives on a CV. Including these on a covering letter is more effective. Avoid professional jargon.
Do not understate or exaggerate information on your resume. Do not leave out critical information. The resume is a representation of you and must be accurate.
While this would appear to be obvious, ensure that every resume is thoroughly checked for spelling mistakes, as they will definitely detract from your application.
Keep an ongoing file of your achievements, no matter how insignificant they may appear – one day they’ll make the basis for a good CV. Remember to give each of your referees a copy of your CV. Always read your CV before any interview – chances are the interviewer will too. Good luck!