Creating the Perfect CV
Keep it brief
We’d recommend restricting yourself to a maximum of 2 A4 pages – keep it brief and to the point – save yourself the details for interview!
Make it look smart
Avoid large blocks of text which look boring and end up getting overlooked. Use bullet points and relevant, clear headings to help employers pick out important details at a brief glance. You may think that someone is going to spend 30 minutes carefully reading everything you’ve written, but the reality may be that it gets a quick flick through over lunch.
Update it regularly
It’s much easier to update your CV regularly rather than try to remember everything that’s happened in the last 10 years – you’ll probably have forgotten certain highlights of your career which may now be relevant.
Make it specific
It’s easy to quickly send the same CV out to 15 employers, but you’ll have much more success if you tailor the content to the employer and role. The large music retailer might be very interested to hear details of your past hobby as a musician, others less so.
Also… include a covering letter
Don’t assume that an employer will see how your experience relates to their job. You should use your cover letter to highlight areas of your CV which you feel will be of particular interest, and to explain what excites you about the role or employer.
Watch the timeline
It’s always going to raise suspicion if there’s a huge gap in your dates of previous employment. Best to be upfront and try to put a positive spin on it – did you only had a part-time job because you were studying for new qualifications? Did you spend a few months volunteering with a local charity or looking after a relative?
Spelling and grammar!
You may think it’s not that important, but when your dream employer has a pile of 20 CVs to look through and yours is full of spelling mistakes, it could quickly find itself in the bin!
If you’re saying that you increased turnover or launched a new product during your last job, add some detail to make it quantifiable – you increased turnover by 25%, or you were responsible for a new product launch which generated over £1m of sales in the first quarter.
Handling an Interview
Most employers will expect you to have at least some knowledge of their company before an interview, but the more you know the better, and it’ll help you expand your answers by including relevant facts you know. Talk about how you actually worked on the branding for a product launch for something very similar to one that they’ve just started developing.
You should also try to find out the names of the staff you’re likely to come across in the interview.
Prepare in advance
Don’t leave everything until the night before the interview, otherwise you’ll be stressed and less likely to get a relaxing night’s sleep.
Try to come across as friendly and positive as possible – some of the staff interviewing you are likely to have to work directly alongside you if they give you the job, so they’ll want to employ someone they can get on with.
As with your CV, have some interesting facts and figures ready for the interview. Anyone can say that they helped to increase sales at their last job, but that email you received from the MD last year congratulating you for your sales results will go down well.
You may even want to leave some brief documents with them at the end of the interview, so they can review them at leisure.