Though Ireland has apparently shaken off the recession and everybody will be working by the end of next year, the job market can still be quite tricky.
Chances are that whatever job you apply for will have hundreds if not thousands of applicants, so you need to make sure you stand out from the crowd. So, dust off your CV and take a look at our top five CV tips.
Your CV should include a number of basic things, including contact details, employment history, education and/or qualifications, personal details and references. Fail to include these and your application may be discarded at the initial stage. Interests, hobbies and activities are optional but add an extra dimension to your application, and can showcase strengths, skills and attributes such as leadership, decision-making and analysis, or being a team player.
Consider the language you use, which should take an active rather than passive tone, and highlight your role in each example or experience. Don’t be afraid to be concise – the same message can often be delivered as well in one sentence as in three. Include achievements that showcase your suitability for the role, and avoid using technical terms.
IrishJobs.ie has a handy breakdown of what you should include in each CV.
If you’re 21 and have a short work history, your CV shouldn’t be five pages long and include an exhaustive list of your hobbies and hopes.
There’s no official limit but always err on the shorter side, particular as the recruiter may be reading through hundreds that day. The most common advice notes that one page for recent graduates is more than enough, and two or three at most unless you’ve held a long and distinguished career.
Styling and formatting
The format of your CV can be as important as the content – a recruiter trawling through hundreds of CVs may be less inclined to consider one that isn’t reader-friendly. Headings and bullet points will draw the eye more than large blocks of text, and make use of ample spacing.
Plain fonts like Times New Roman or Arial are the best option, and avoid cluttering the content with tables, borders and images, unless you’re applying for a job as a designer.
You should also use a spell checker to avoid any spelling mistakes or ask someone with an eye for spelling and grammar to take a look. A CV littered with errors doesn’t do much to promote your attention to detail.
Like the cover letter, your CV shouldn’t be generic – tailor the content to each application. Read the job description carefully to find what the employer is looking for, and use similar or the same keywords in your CV. Avoid listing every job, achievement, skill etc. throughout your work history – focus on those that will boost your application for a particular role.
Consider laying it out in different ways depending on the employer and what you want to highlight – your education might be the most important asset for one job, so ensure this is near the top.
People’s strengths lie in many different areas, and if you’re having difficulty producing a standout CV, it’s a great idea to seek help. If you’re attending third level, your institution may have a careers office that can offer tips and advice.