How to make your CV work for you

The process of applying for jobs can be time-consuming and stressful.  Here are our tips to help you make sure your CV (or resume) gets you selected for that all important interview.

Keep it short and snappy

When you’re applying for a job it can be tempting to try to include every detail about yourself you can possibly think of, but this may just put off the reader. HR professionals recommend:

  • No more than two pages for junior positions, no more than three for more senior. 
  • Short sentences and bullet points rather than long paragraphs
  • Plenty of white space so it’s easy for the reader to pick out key details. 

Work on a great personal statement

This should be no more than three or four sentences summarising your own individual strengths and skills. It’s ideal if this comprises of skills you can demonstrate and that are unique to you.

Show your experience

Start with your most recent employer and work backwards.  Summarise what the company did, give a short description of your role (it’s fine to use bullet points) and highlight your achievements. 

Don’t leave gaps in your CV but, if in the past you have spent time doing several similar jobs that are not particularly relevant or worked in a large number temporary roles, you can summarise this with a general heading and one or two examples.

Be specific

If you did something on your own or led a project make sure this is clear.  Don’t use general sentences that leave the reader with no idea what your involvement comprised of.   For your achievements it’s great if you can give an example of how you helped to reduce costs, improve efficiency or increase revenue.  But if not, quote an anecdotal example of something you have been praised for. Quoting an endorsement from a previous line manager with their name and title can be a strong way of making your CV stand out.

Don’t make one size fit all

If you are applying for a variety of positions in different industries you need different versions of your CV so you can highlight strengths and experience most appropriate to the sector and role. 

There may be regional and cultural differences according the country you are in.  For example, in the UK, Times New Roman, is considered a dated font and CVs in this typeface do not have a contemporary feel. Likewise, in the UK, HR managers expect you to refer to yourself in the first person as in “I did” rather than using your name.  However this may not be the case in all countries so if you are applying overseas check local cultural expectations.

Stress your qualifications

Employers value qualifications and you have worked hard to get them.  ABE’s qualifications have many directly work-related learning outcomes so highlight those that match the skills required of the job you are applying for.

Good luck.

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