What makes a good CV?

One that attracts a recruiter's attention in the shortest amount of time and makes them really want to meet you. A recruiter might only spend 30 seconds glancing at a CV, which means that you have to grab their attention very quickly indeed.

Therefore, it is in your interests to highlight what you have to offer at the start of your CV, rather than hiding it away at the end. An attention-grabbing summary and a list of major achievements at the start of the CV will help stir a recruiter's interest in you.

A good CV should be:

  • Targeted to the job you're applying for
  • Simple, clear and concise - using no more than two easy-to-read fonts on plain white paper
  • Short - 2 sides of A4 paper
  • Free from spelling, grammatical and typing errors - give it to someone else to check
  • Accompanied by a covering letter. The CV and covering letter should be in the same font, layout and on the same paper

Summary:

The summary should be short and sweet - no more than four or five lines of text - and should highlight your key skills and attributes. This should paint a highly favourable picture of you and indicate the strengths most relevant to the position you are applying for. Keep it simple, sharp, and honest.

Major Achievements:

After the summary you should list three to six major achievements that are directly related to the job you are applying for. It is important to pick achievements that are relevant, as this shows that you understand what the recruiter is looking for in the successful candidate. If possible, you should mention facts and figures, as well as any organizational names you have worked with (although you may feel that these are confidential and should not be disclosed). This makes the CV more captivating, and give the recruiter a better idea of your capabilities and experience.

Education:

You must be aware of the origin of the company when considering how in depth you wish to go into your education, as there are cultural differences to consider with this aspect of your CV. For example, in Europe, work experience will be far more important to the recruiter than your distant past. In the US, your education is considered a very important component of your career, and generally a US employer would like a further education involved in their area of expertise. Therefore, consider who you are applying to and how prevalent this area of your CV must be. It goes without saying that honesty is a prerequisite!

Skills/Training/Other Skills:

You should list your up-to-date IT skills, training and other skills (such as language skills and typing speeds, if relevant). For IT skills you may want to include hardware (PCs, Macs), operating systems (Windows 95/98) and applications (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint).

Hobbies & Interests:

Hobbies and interests are generally not considered very important on a CV. However they may be able to tell a recruiter a lot about your personality, leadership potential, and team working skills, so they should not be overlooked completely.

Format:

Restrict your CV to two pages, in order to keep it sharp. If you are emailing your CV you should send it in Microsoft Word format.