Top CV tips for landing that first big job

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that time of year again: results are out and graduates are looking to the
future. It may be that you’ve already got an idea of where you’d like to apply
to work, but you may also be actively hunting for employment. Whatever your
situation is, there are a few things that are worth keeping in mind to maximise
your chances of making that all-important good first impression.

The CV is
usually the first point of contact you’ll have with a potential employer, so
getting it right and standing out is essential – especially since employers
will be receiving a raft of CVs at this time of year. Due to the huge volume of
applications some companies receive it’s not uncommon for a CV to be
disregarded if it’s filled with mistakes or doesn’t seem serious.


Make it clear
and concise

There’s a fine
line to run between making a CV stand out and making it look cluttered. The
trick with making a CV more personalised it to ascribe a ‘less is more’
approach. It can be tempting to move away from the standard CV template in
order to stand out, but this can depend on the industry you’re applying to work
in and should be considered carefully.

A logical
progression would look something like this:

  • Name
  • Address/contact details
  • Personal statement
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Skills
  • Interests/hobbies

Keep your
personal statement short and snappy. You should aim to describe yourself and
your ambition in three or four sentences, so that is: who you are, what your
most valuable skills are and what you are looking for. You should then develop
these points in your cover letter.


The cover letter

Including a
cover letter with your application is essential for a number of reasons and
should never be considered as an optional extra. It is the first opportunity
you’ll have to make a good impression with potential employers, so you should
use it to get across exactly why you’re applying for the job and what you hope
to bring to the company. There’s a lot that a potential employer can learn from
a cover letter – arguably more than the pure stats of a CV – and it can make a
difference if, for example, two identical candidates applied for a position but
only one of them had a well-considered cover letter.

Don’t be afraid
to sound enthusiastic and show off your skills. Researching the company you’re
applying to is essential, as it demonstrates commitment. What you learn will
also be invaluable later on, should you get an interview.


Shout about
your skills

Including a
skills section is a good opportunity to succinctly demonstrate your abilities
and can be particularly effective if you pay close attention to the job
listing’s requirements. Make a list of your skills on a notepad and then read through the job listing,
making notes of where your skills apply. Then, in your skills section, flesh
out each skill with a brief description that demonstrates why it is relevant to
the position.

Don’t be afraid
to include skills that aren’t directly related to the position you’re applying
for. These skills can help a prospective employer to develop an understanding
of who you are as a person and what you can offer the company outside of the
minimum job requirements.


It’s good to
have a hobby

It might seem
that including hobbies and interests in a CV is unnecessary information but, as
above, extra information about a candidate can help give a better understanding
of who you are as a person and what you’re likely to be like as an employee.
For example, a keen interest in photography can suggest creativity, and
something seemingly innocuous such as gardening can imply an eye for detail.
Additions such as these can also help create a rapport within an interview and
can give you an opportunity to speak with passion about something that’s
important to you.


Don’t bend the

It might be
tempting to upgrade your results to make a better impression, or add in
experience you haven’t gained, but lying on your CV is never a good idea. On
its most basic level, lying on a CV is considered fraud and could result in serious consequences. If you’re really concerned about a
particular grade or gap in employment then it is better to omit information
than to fabricate it. However, it is important to illustrate a true picture of
yourself and remain honest.


Finally: check,
check and check again!

It might seem
obvious, but research has found that 92% of CVs surveyed contained errors
or inconsistencies in spelling, grammar or formatting. Take a break after
finishing your CV and cover letter and then re-read them carefully. It’s easy
to become accustomed to what you’ve already written, so a short break will
allow you to approach it with fresh eyes. Better still – have a friend or
relative take a look at your CV.


Have you got
any top CV tips? Let us know
@Viking_Chat. Our next instalment of the Fast Track
series will tackle job interview tips – keep your eyes peeled