CV step-by-step guide
Have you been frustrated by poor responses to job applications? It could be that you need the following: a CV step-by-step guide. Someone to tell you exactly what to do, and what not to do. And we are hoping this will help. We have been reviewing CVs whilst recruiting for TheRoomLink over the past few days, and have been very disappointed at the standard of CVs which have been sent to us.
Before we start, we should mention that when you start writing your CV, there are a number of things which are important but bear in mind that the visual appearance and structure of your CV is almost as important as the content.
So let’s get on with it, and give you some practical step-by-step tips.
CV step-by-step guide: in 20 steps
- Choose a template.CV template examples are available to download from the internet. Download some CV examples here or google for additional templates – you’ll find there are many.
- Keep it simple. The more simple the template the better. Avoid borders, fancy fonts, banners, unusual bullet points and gimmicks. Keep in mind the person who will be reading it. Make it as easy for them to read as possible.
- Fonts and layout. Choose an easy-to-read font. Arial works on digital displays as well as in print. And choose medium sized margins. Don’t use bold fonts for the entire CV – keep it for headings and highlights.
- Keep it concise. Say what you have to say, in full sentences. Nothing more and nothing less. Don’t say over 7 pages what you can say in 2. Remember the person reading your CV will have a pile of CVs to get through – and they will generally be printing them. 7 pages is just a waste of paper.
- Jobs in reverse order. Put your most recent job at the top and the oldest at the bottom.
- Consistent. Enter information consistently. You don’t need to put a reason for leaving each job. But if you did it for one, you need to do it for all. (Even better, leave it out!) Give the same information for each job you’ve entered: start date, end date, company name, job title, details of the job – what you were responsible for.
- Tailor your CV and covering letter. You have a much better chance of a response if you tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for. e.g. if they say it’s a pre-requisite to have wi-fi, your own laptop and be active on social media (which is what we require at TheRoomLink), then ensure that you put something either in your CV or in your covering letter so that the interviewer knows that you comply with their minimum requirements.
- Gaps. Explain any gaps in your CV. Be honest. Did you take the time out to have kids? Were you unemployed? Did you take a gap year? If you don’t put this in, the interviewer may speculate – and you might not get an interview as a result thereof!
- Exclude unnecessary information. Don’t know what to include? Our previous article on CV basics and guidelines will give you exactly that: tell you what to include and what to exclude.
- Certificates on demand. It’s not necessary to attach copies of ID or passport numbers, certificates, academic results, referral letters etc. And the interviewer will probably request this information from you at a later stage. But there is no need to volunteer the fact that you got an E for IT Studies if you’re applying for an IT job! It may stop them from calling you for an interview. Wow them first, tell them later.
- Attach things they request. However, if they have asked you to supply them with certificates or a driver’s licence or proof of residence, send these documents along – but send only these – nothing more, nothing less.
- Spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalizations, text/SMS/BBM speak. Do not ever, ever, ever use abbreviations as you would in a text message (SMS/BBM). Not in your CV and not in your covering letter. Use capitalisations at the start of sentences and proper nouns. Don’t write everything in capitals. Punctuate correctly. And when typing: one space after a comma and two spaces after a full stop.
- Colours. You can use subtle or accent colours in your CV, but bear in mind that it will probably be printed in black and white. Don’t write black on dark blue, don’t use coloured borders, pictures, watermarks, coloured backgrounds – no matter how pretty it might look to you, it’s not appropriate for a CV!
- Results. I want to emphasise – if you got brilliant marks at school, feel free to brag about them. But if you weren’t a straight-A or B student, you can put in the subjects you passed, but don’t include the marks.
- Relevant information. Include only relevant information. If you’re applying to be a truck driver, it’s important to mention that you have the necessary licence. But if you finished school 20 years ago, it’s not necessary to give your detailed matric results!
- Important information on the first page. Your first page will probably be read, so make use of the space in the best way possible. Put experience (at least your last job) on page 1. Leave additional and optional information towards the back of the CV.
- References. If you include references on your CV, please ensure that your references know that their name is on it! Last thing you want is a prospective employer ringing up your reference when they least expect it and catching them off guard. And make sure you have their permission to put their private telephone numbers and email addresses on a document that is sent out publicly. You can always say ‘references upon request’ or add them as a separate document.
- Photos. Photos are generally not required. If you’re applying for a modelling job, of course, that’s different. But it should not matter what you look like if you’re applying for an administrative position.
- Jargon. Avoid industry jargon. No-one else understands what Form GRF was that you had to summarise daily. If it is an order form, call it an order form. And if you have to use acronyms, then at least add the full description in brackets, e.g.: POS (Point of sale) system.
- Review. Once you have completed your CV, give it to an independent party to review for you. Ask them to check the layout, spelling and see whether there are any terms they might not understand or anything that seems unclear. Change these until you have it perfect!
Now, you haven’t quite finished. Double check whether there is anything you have missed by reading the 10 Tips when applying for a job. Also have a quick read through how you can use Social Media to enhance your job application process. We’ll expand on this a little more next time.
We hope to CV step-by-step guide has been useful and would love to hear whether it brings you success!
Why not tell us about your experiences or ask us questions on Twitter: @theroomlink