You have identified your dream job, found a vacancy and are about to submit an application. But one major obstacle lies in your way, the dreaded curriculum vitae (CV). So how do you put together a CV that will guarantee you an interview?
Almost every job will have tonnes of applicants and you need to find your way to the top of the in-tray. It sounds simple enough, but most people forget one of the crucial elements for a killer CV.
-- Be concise: “A good CV should be no more than two pages long,” says Philip White, the HR Director of Jumeirah. “If you end up writing four pages it is doubtful an employer will read to the end.”
Although it is important to get everything in, it is also acceptable not to give every last detail. That way you can elaborate during your interview. Bullet points are a great way to summarise previous job responsibilities.
White says qualifications are important, but you should not forget to write about hobbies too. “I look at key achievements and educational qualifications first. But a line or two about interests outside of work can also give some insight into the whole person. It is important this is all in chronological order with the most recent employment first,” he adds.
-- Don’t lie: Lying on your CV is a cardinal sin because you can guarantee someone will find you out.
Elaborating on the truth is a different matter and there is nothing wrong with wanting to sound interesting; just make sure you have some knowledge of the things you have listed. If you are good enough for the job your CV should make you stand out without having to lie.
White says: “I have seen many CVs that stand out, for good and bad reasons. Sometimes candidates have exaggerated their responsibilities/involvement in projects and others have just been telling stories. I once received a CV that said the applicant had a degree from ‘the university of life’.”
-- Don’t mention money: Some job adverts mention salary, but Praveena Nair from SOS Recruitment in Dubai does not think employees should mention it on their CV.
“We don’t appreciate people mentioning their current salary or their expectations because we prefer to put it on the table. People don’t understand that every company has its own structures and putting your expectations on your CV could put the client off,” she says.
-- Proof, check and check again: Yes, it’s an obvious point – but you would be amazed how many CVs have typos and spelling mistakes.
Computer spellcheckers do not substitute for proof reading. British English is different to American English and while the lines between each are slightly blurred here because of the multinational nature of firms, make sure you choose one and stick to it. Remember the more senior the job, the more important it is to be accurate.
White says: “In my role with Jumeirah I work among more than 110 nationalities for most of whom English is their second or third language. But I would certainly look for correct spelling and punctuation from applicants for senior roles or in areas such as marketing/PR where the need for accuracy is of paramount importance.”
-- Tailor to fit: Not all CVs should be the same, employers rarely like to receive a cut and paste copy. Nair says: “Each CV should be tailor-made to each job. If you are applying for something that requires you to work with customers highlight that aspect of your employment.”
Top three job-hunting tips
1. If there is a job you really want or a company you are keen to work for, write to them. By doing this you demonstrate assertiveness, and even if there is no job at that time, they often keep your details on file.
2. Use a recruitment company as they should know what is going on in your field and are often one step ahead because firms go to them with vacancies first.
3. Enthusiasm will go a long way in helping you secure a position. You might apply for 10 jobs and only get two interviews, but it is all a learning curve. If you don’t get either job, ask for feedback so you won’t make the same mistakes again.