CV Advice

Creating a great CV

We believe that the CV is most effectively viewed as an advertisement for you and your skill sets. Your CV is a tool to give the reader (your potential employer) a reason to see you for an interview, not overdosing them with everything you are and can be. Below are 7 ways to create a great CV.

1. Discover your strengths

You may already be aware of your unique place in the world and what capabilities you bring to an organisation beyond technical skills. If not then you need to create a self-awareness of this aspect of yourself.

A couple of useful ways to develop an idea of your strengths is through conversation - speak to your colleagues, family, friends and ask them what you are like; in interaction, in handling conflict and perhaps even something they always wanted to tell you about yourself but never had the opportunity (till now!).

Go to the internet and search for psychometric profiles and complete a couple (on this point we suggest NOT taking these test results along to an interview as the potential employer may have a tool they use already and the real value for them comes from comparing individuals who have completed the profile within their business to new employees profiles).

Gaining a small insight into yourself in the workplace will allow you to inform your interviewers of things that the majority of your competitors will not be aware of.

2. Outcomes and achievements

Whilst it is important to convey a sense of what you have physically been doing and how you did it in your roles to date, it is also vital to demonstrate your achievements and outcomes. Achievements are the feats that you have realised and they can take effect in many circumstances:

  • Over-achieving on the budget (in %’s or dollars).
  • Suggesting a new work process and the result of the implementation – money or time saved.
  • Gaining some internal recognition such as the employee of the month, a service award or attending a high achievers conference.
  • Being the youngest person to have such a role.
  • Developing a new revenue stream.
  • Facilitating a new method of work interaction.

You will notice that the majority of these are quantitative measures, so include the figures if they are worthy or use percentages if the numbers are small.

Outcomes are similar to achievements but go beyond them to the results or product of what your achievements were. i.e. the achievement was to bring the software implementation project in 2 months earlier than expected. The outcome of this was a saving of $15,000. The two need not be separated and can be tied together in one sentence.

3. Projection

This advice reads true for writing a CV, attending the interview or interacting with the recruiter/HR Manager. Projection is the art of “placing yourself in the other person's shoes”, or developing the habit of viewing the scenario from another's perspective. This springs from the knowledge that it is not what you say or write, it is what the other person interprets from this communication.

Before writing your cover letter, ask yourself, what information is the company looking to gain from my CV and have I provided it? At interview when faced with a challenging question, throughout your answer consider if the words you are using is conveying the information the interviewer sought by asking the question. Compare yourself to the role requirements through your discussions with the recruiter and what is written on the job description.

4. Filtering

Hiring managers, recruiters and HR Managers will only be looking at your resume for what is important to them. Their concern is how you can solve the problem created by the role which is vacant, and they are now looking to fill. The term for this is filtering. Filtering is a natural process performed by our brain. The reason for it is there is so much data out there for our brain to process, so it shuts out what is not important.

5. Be intimate with your resume

Whatever you do, be familiar with the material in your resume. Nothing looks worse at interview than someone who is uncertain when questioned about dates, achievements or responsibilities. If you have not sent your resume directly to the company then mention to them that you have a couple of versions and would they mind you seeing the resume they will be interviewing from.

6. Less is More

In line with the theme you have created and bearing in mind the CV is part of your brand, I would like to extend the advertising metaphor and tell you that a brief CV is far preferable to a long one! Ideally you want to keep it to 5 pages or less. If this is difficult to swallow then ask yourself, would YOU look through a 60-page behemoth complete with a reference section and index? At a simpler level, appreciate that a hiring manager may have as many as 100 CVs to consider! When writing your CV, ask yourself, is this really relevant to my getting a great new role? Also, consider your use of ‘page real estate". By extending your margins and using a smaller font, you can squeeze in another 200-300 words per page.

7. Interests

Don’t underestimate the power of connecting with your reader via the medium of interests. I have had “left-field” candidates interviewed based on the fact that I knew the hiring manager shared the same interest of wargaming figurines with the candidate (he was subsequently hired as he was superbly aligned to the culture). This is not in any way to suggest that you make it your mission to discover the hiring manager's interests and then mimic them, or list every possible thing you could call a hobby.

Interests perform the following function:

  • It brings your CV and application to life. You become more than just a piece of paper and working history.
  • It demonstrates that you have a life outside your work and passion for technology and its applications.
  • It can even provide light relief from the difficult job of CV sorting.

Some rules for interests:

  • Don’t go into excessive detail about your fascination with breeding Pekinese dogs and how animal husbandry now forms a large part of your life, the reader will develop a potentially misleading impression of you.
  • Be brief yet informative.
  • Why not even make it amusing and fun!

For further tips on creating your CV check out our following resources:

Download our CV Template.

Read our blog posts related to CVs.