Six tips to writing a good CV
Many people overstate – or understate – their achievements
The CV: there are so many conflicting recommendations out there. But having a good one may be your best chance to make a good first impression, so you’ve got to get it right. Here’s how.
1. Open strong: The first 15-20 words of your CV are critically important. Start with a brief summary of your expertise. You’ll have the opportunity to expand on your experience further down in your resumé and in your cover letter. For now, keep it short. And be sure to avoid clichés.
2. Get the order right: If you’re switching industries, don’t launch into job experience that the hiring manager may not think is relevant. Add an accomplishments section right after your opener that makes the bridge between your experience and the job requirements.
3. Be selective: It’s tempting to list every job, accomplishment, volunteer assignment, skill and degree you’ve ever had. But don’t. Only include relevant details.
4. Share accomplishments, not responsibilities: “I managed a team of 10” doesn’t say much. You need to dig a level deeper. Did everyone on your team earn promotions? Did they exceed their targets?
5. Make it readable: Stop fiddling with the margins. The days of a one-page resumé are over: Nowadays, two or three pages are fine, but that’s the limit. You can supplement what’s on the page with links to your work.
6. Get help: It can be hard to be objective about your own experience and accomplishments. Many people overstate – or understate – their achievements or struggle to find the right words. Consider working with a CV writer, mentor, or a friend who can help you steer away from questions like, “Am I good enough for this position?” and focus on “Am I the right person for the job?” At a minimum, have someone else check your resumé for logic, grammar, spelling and punctuation.
– Copyright Harvard Business Review 2015
Previously published in The Irish Times.
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