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Make your CV stand out from the crowd

In the second of our new series of articles on careers Hays Civil & Structural director Greg Lettington sets out how to make your CV stand out from the crowd.


How can I make sure that my CV stands out?


A CV is your chance to be heard. Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to writing a CV, following some simple guidelines will dramatically improve your chances of standing out and securing an interview. The first thing to do when approaching your CV is to focus on competencies. Never lose sight of what potential employers are looking for - match their technical and personal competency requirements and you’re off to a solid start. This means studying the job description and person specification carefully.

Writing a CV is your sales pitch to the employer and your personal statement is your opener. This should sit below your personal details, and you should use it to really stand out from the crowd.

It is crucial to keep your formatting consistent. Limit yourself to the most relevant work experience and list employers and job roles in reverse chronological order. The last 10 years is more than enough. You will need to include company name, address, job title and responsibilities and stick to this format consistently throughout. We’ve all got to start somewhere, so if you have little experience list any transferable skills gained whether through work experience or at university.

Quantify your achievements where relevant and write in the first person. Saying, “We generated £x profit” won’t cut the mustard - the employer is interested in your personal contribution. Make sure you list all relevant skills and state whether you are chartered or incorporated. You would usually be expected to include all higher and further education, including your degree and masters in your key areas of specialism. If you have no formal qualifications, focus on your skills i.e. apprenticeship or traineeships. Once you have covered the technical requirements, any modelling packages you are adept with and any other institute or membership achievements, it’s always a good idea to include language skills (especially for multinationals) and additional IT skills. As for referees, it is sufficient to mention that these are ‘available on request’.

Make sure you can explain all gaps in your employment history as these tend to set off alarm bells and if there is one area that interviewers will try to probe, this is it. While you don’t have to include reasons for leaving a job, you may be asked about this at interview.

Job done. Not quite. Your CV needs be accompanied by a covering letter, which again needs to emphasise your skills in relation to the employer’s competencies. Your cover letter is the first thing a recruiter will see, so it is essential that you introduce your CV and explain why you are perfect for the role in the best way possible.

If you’re stuck for ideas, register with a reputable recruitment agency and your consultant should be able to assist you. Still struggling? The internet is a good resource of CV templates and careers advice.

And finally, don’t forget to run a spell check and ensure that those competencies are working hard for you: in your personal profile, work experience and covering letter.

There will be detailed information on interviews tips in next week’s careers advice

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