30 May

OK, so you want a job change, and you know your old CV needs updating. If your experience exactly matches that called for in the new job, just update the job history section and anything else that has changed, make sure the CV is no longer than two A4 pages (Yes, I know that can be a challenge; read on for tips), and print or email  it out with a punchy cover letter.

So far, so simple. But what if your dream new job calls for skills or experience you don't yet have, but you KNOW you'd be the perfect candidate for the role? You're ready to take the next step up in your career perhaps, or have decided to tackle a new challenge and do something different. Or maybe your career history doesn't show the traditional linear progression and promotions. Or has gaps. What to do? How can you write a CV that showcases your amazing personal strengths and achievements, so that your potential shines through and the recruiter can't wait to meet you, despite the fact that you might not tick all their boxes?

Aside from the obvious (neat, concise, no spelling or grammatical errors, no unexplained gaps, no lies) the CV needs to show what you CAN do as well as what you HAVE done. Make sure you structure the CV so that the most important things about you (to the recruiter) come first, and the least important on the second page.

So, here is a structure that really works:

Full name and contact details at the top.

Personal or professional profile: A pithy paragraph summarising who you are and what you can do, 50 - 70 words. Avoid cliches such as 'team player' or 'excellent communication skills'.

Key Achievements: A section listing the achievements you are most proud of in your life, that illustrate your (relevant) abilities.  They might be quantifiable work achievements, such as 'Won President's cup 2015 for top annual sales of promotional products in team of 42' or 'Grew division turnover from £2.79 million to £7.8 million in 3 years", but needn't all be work-related. 'Raised £4,560.63 for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital by organising 3 fun runs at college' or 'captained first XI for  2 years' can also show that you have leadership or organisation skills. Think about the qualities your future employer might be looking for, then think about how you can demonstrate that you have them.

Career History: Next, you list your jobs in date order, with the most recent first. You need to give the dates started and finished, the company name and location, and your job title.  Then, underneath, an indication of what the role involved. Ideally, describe what you achieved in each role rather than just a list of job responsibilities. You need to show not an overview of all your responsibilities, but how WELL you did the job. It can be difficult to decide what to put in and what to leave out, so bear in mind all the time what qualities and achievements the recruiter will be looking for, and what you did that illustrates you have them. There won't be space to include all your tasks and responsibilities, so focus on what you achieved, quantified if possible.

If you don't have much of a career history yet, or are very highly qualified, then put your education before the career history. Give more detail about the more recent jobs than the earlier ones. Include voluntary or intern positions if they demonstrate skills.

Education and Qualifications: Date, Institution, Qualification

Personal details: It's good to list hobbies and interests, languages, full clean UK or EU driving licence if you have one, IT literacy and date of birth. There's been much debate about whether to divulge date of birth. Having been a recruiter myself, my view is, include your DOB, to save the recruiter having to do the arithmetic, which is irritating. They'll figure it out anyway from your education and first job dates.

References - state they are available, don't include them with the job app.

Next step - proofread, proofread, and proofread again. Ask someone else to proofread it as well.

See an example Example CV 1.pdf

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