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Writing a CV – Tips and Traps

If you’re finding that your CV isn’t receiving the attraction your career warrants, it’s likely you’re just a few adjustments away from getting that good news phone call.

Employers typically spend less than 20 seconds scanning over a Candidate’s CV, so it is imperative that yours stands out from the crowd. With a wealth of experience recruiting Candidates into their ideal jobs, our aim at MERJE is to share our industry do’s and don’ts that we feel will offer valuable enhancements to your CV.

What to include and how

  • A successful CV should contain fundamental basics in terms of employer requirements. The term “less is more” provides an effective principle to guide you to a no-nonsense application. The CV must include your skills, professional history and education and ideally market you for a specific role.

  • The employer is looking for a Candidate that meets the requirements of their specific job description and company. A general version of your CV will provide a useful template, but standing out from the crowd requires additional touches that will link your application to specific employer demands. Make sure to incorporate key terms from the job description within your CV and relate them to your experiences to the position you are applying for. A good opportunity for this rests primarily in your Personal Statement and Skills sections.

  • Don't forget your contact details! It's surprising how often these are left off.

Personal Statement

  • Stating who you are, what you individually offer and what you are looking for in your prospective career should be the basic outline of your personal statement, and should be no more than a couple of sentences. Think of your ambition, what motivates you and what qualifies you for this role. The first thing that springs to mind may be the salary, but focus on the technical aspects and responsibilities of jobs you’ve previously excelled at.

  • If you aren’t yet aware of the individual company you are applying to, write your statement based on a company you desire to work for, and be conscious of values specific to that industry.

Skills

  • Your Skills section is an opportunity for you to showcase your professional attributes and demonstrate your achievements:

    • Hard skills – Attributes used to undertake specific tasks. These are teachable and meet the demands of the role (such as industry qualifications, software skills, foreign languages).

    • Soft skills – Attributes that are commonly self-developed and non-specific to a role. Generally, these are transferable to a wide range of roles (such as communication skills, debating, confident presenting).

  • If perhaps the position is more technically demanding, so-called ‘hard skills’ are typically perceived as more effective – the key is finding the right balance that reflects the employer needs. If the role you are applying for is more personality orientated, inclusion of your individual interests may bolster the ‘softer skills’ an employer is looking for.

  • Ask yourself what industry skills should be given priority; management skills, problem solving, teamwork? Don’t simply repeat terms, instead relate these skills to individual experiences that you’re able to quantify and speak passionately about in an interview. Try not to include too much jargon and stick to a clear point that is easy to read and includes statistics where appropriate.

For example, time management:

  • Avoid = “My role required effective time management skills and completion of various projects within limited time frames.”

  • Instead = “As Finance Director of ___, I oversaw the financing of six projects that were consecutively completed within a time frame of twelve months.”

Experience & Employment

  • Note your full employment history, including details such as job title, employer and dates worked.

  • Include details and statistics for each role, but you do not need these for the older roles if you have a large number of positions to list, unless they are relevant to the vacancy you are applying for.  

  • A professional CV will list the employment history in reverse chronological order.

  • Try to account for gaps in your history, for example if you’ve undertaken a gap year make sure it is included.

Education & Qualifications

  • The same principles apply to education history as employment. Include the qualifications and grades achieved, name of institution and the dates worked. Ensure that your format is consistent with that of your employment history section (such as institutional name first).

Other advice

  • Employers no longer expect detailed references within your CV and a simple statement of “references available upon request” will suffice.

  • Remember to keep it simple, and up to date. Always remember to check and check again, a simple grammatical error may be the reason a CV is discarded!

We wish you the best of luck.