How To Write A Great CV or Résumé


Courtesy of - guidance and direction



If you make the
effort to present
your job
application well -
it shows that
you take care
with the tasks
that you


Section 1 - The Employer

Before we look at your Résumé or Curriculum Vitae in detail, it would be useful to view things from the other side of the desk and put yourself in the position of "the employer" and think about what would impress you if you were in that situation.

Imagine yourself, Monday morning and the mail sack has just arrived - full of job applications. Not only are you short-handed because you are one worker down, but in order to fill that gap you have to spend time now, reading job applications and interviewing potential employees.

Your first step is to go through the just arrived, stack of applications. You need to quickly sort through them in order to narrow them down to those most likely prospects suitable to interview. You have a busy schedule and work is piling up while you do this - are you going to waste your time with any that are illegible, badly spelled or poorly presented? No - they will be the first you discard.

Here's your first tip - take the time to write up your application, neatly, with correct spelling and grammar and in the format that was asked. Make sure it is legible and preferably typed if you can.

It is worthwhile getting help with this - if your spelling is poor, get a dictionary, use the spell-checker on the computer, get a friend to help or seek out someone who can provide this service.

No matter what job is being applied for, even unskilled labour - the presentation of your job application says a great deal about your ability to communicate and about your approach to your work.

If you make the effort to present your job application well, it shows that you take care with the tasks that you undertake. However, a slovenly or untidy job application demonstrates the likelihood of the same behaviour towards other tasks. Ask yourself, would you rather employ someone who thought they had done enough to sweep just the middle of the room, or would you prefer someone who took the trouble to do all the corners as well?

You also need to present your application in the format that they asked for, too. If they ask for it to be on a specific form or sent to them in an electronic format - then make sure you follow their instructions. This may be their first test - can you follow instructions or do you do your own thing regardless?


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Life coaching advice




Help the reviewer
to get to the
essential bits of
your CV quickly

Stepping back into "the employer" shoes again and the work on sifting the pile of applications. You have now weeded out the "not worth bothering with" applications that were sent in from all those people who obviously didn't want the job badly enough to make too much effort to get it. Now, you are faced with reading the ones that are left and there must be 20 or 30 on your desk now to go through in order to select maybe 5 or 6 to interview.

At first, you might be quite diligent and read through all the pages of each résumé, but quickly realise that at this rate, not only will you not be done by lunchtime, but the rest of the day looks like being written off too. It doesn't take you long before your eyes are glazing over as you read - there is nothing duller than the average CV - as applicant after applicant recounts their career history from schooldays to the present time. The "potted history" of each applicant may be really interesting to them, but when you've read 10 or 20, then it is very difficult to even stay awake, let alone take in the facts.

Scan reading helps you to move through the pile of applications more quickly, but tends to increase the glazing effect and the job applications begin to blur together. If you have to narrow the choice of applicants down by 75%, then it is only going to be the ones that stand out from the rest that get anything beyond a cursory scan.

Here is the second tip - sell yourself in the first paragraph if you want your job application to even be read, let alone considered for the next stage of the shortlist for interview.

The first few sentences of your application or resume should not only make it clear that you can do the job, but the first paragraph should be interesting enough that the reader wants to actually continue and read ALL of your application.

The very first thing that should be mentioned is whatever it is that is THE most important criteria being used for selecting the successful applicant or that would be considered as an essential requirement to be able to do the job.

Starting your job application, CV or résumé off with a succinct summary of what you can do for the employer, means that the person reviewing it has a quick snapshot of who you are in relation to their business. They can quickly make a positive choice in your favour, if what you've written basically says that you can fill their need.

I've seen many CV's where the applicant merely listed in chronological order, all the jobs that they've had since leaving school - which meant that the most prominent information was probably the least relevant to the job being applied for.

Help the reviewer of your CV to see your light - don't hide it under a bushel - put the most recent and relevant information first (ie reverse chronological order).

A job that you did 5 year ago in your school holidays cleaning windows probably won't help much, to get you the position of Shift Supervisor for a Call Centre, but your last job as a Customer Service Team Leader might.

Help the reviewer to get to the essential bits of your CV quickly.



Being caught
out in a lie doesn't
demonstrate that
you are an honest
and reputable

Back in the role of "the employer" again, you have probably managed to shed about half of the job applications now, although it took you all morning to do it. The last sifting process has got it down to a pile of about 10 to 12 "possibles" to consider. There are still too many to interview, so you will now need to go through these in a bit more detail in order to narrow the selection down even further. Well, that looks like some more exciting reading for you to look forward to - after lunch!

Presumably, all of these applications had done a good enough job of selling themselves and look interesting enough to be worth a further and more detailed reading. This is where a finer filter is needed, to separate out those who can't back up their claims from those who can, to weed out any "stretching" of the truth, or any shortfalls in experience and qualifications for the job.

At this point as "the employer" you have to adopt an approach which is more like that of a sleuth - cross checking the details of each application, spotting errors, omissions, lies, reading between the lines at what is NOT written. It's amazing what some people will claim in their CV's and what they think they can get away with! As "the employer" you have your chance now to look more closely and only select those that stand up to the detailed scrutiny.

Third tip - be honest or be bold enough to carry off a bluff! You will have to be very, very good though - I did once know someone who lied about their experience, but they were bold enough, self-confident enough not to give themselves away AND they were capable enough to do the job, once they started.

Honesty, though, is your best policy. Yes, there are ways of emphasising certain facts or playing down others, but at the end of the day - you have to be able to do the job and if you are caught out in a lie about references or credentials - there will always be a price to pay.

Remember - an employer will be trusting you with their business and they are looking for clues that you are someone who will repay that trust, not abuse it.

Being caught out in a lie doesn't demonstrate that you are an honest and reputable person - quite the contrary and you know which pile your application will therefore end up in!


So, skipping back to being "the employer" - you now have a handful of applications left, that passed your selection criteria, all the detailed scrutiny and that look worthwhile to interview. You hand the rest to your administration assistant to post out the standard rejection letter.

This is a courtesy that you try to observe, but sometimes when you've been hiring for popular job positions, you've been so inundated with applications that if you had answered every one, there would have been no time left to do the job you were employed to do.

It's worth bearing that in mind when you apply for any position, where there is likely to be popular interest and not to take it too personally if you hear nothing further.