Prepare a Winning CV
Your CV or Resume is usually your main form of introduction to a prospective employer and this is what will secure you an interview. On average, prospective employers will spend less than 20 seconds in determining which candidates/applicants will proceed to interview. Therefore, it is very important that your CV/Resume distinguishes you from other candidates.
There are a number of ways that candidates can distinguish themselves from others and following are some tips that you may find helpful. We recommend your CV/Resume should be set out using the order of the headings below.
To ensure your name is actually [and subliminally!] in the hirer’s mind, please ensure your name clearly features the top of the first page in bold letters of a larger height than any other headers. Also, place a footer on every page with your name, mobile phone number and the page number.
In distinguishing yourself from other candidates we recommend that you think about your career to date and have a header placed around the middle of page one [this is the area to which the reader’s eyes naturally gravitate] titled Key Achievements. Then list no more than six bullet points regarding your career highlights/successes. It is important to note that more than just words will be necessary. It’s very easy to make verbal claims, but without substantiation you will be no different from other applicants.
Therefore please consider three important points:
- Time, and
- In three months achieved premium reduction of 12.5%, or
- Within four months increased the portfolio profitability by $500,000
It is not necessary to have all three of the key areas mentioned [i.e. Dollars, Time and Percentages,] in each point, but there should be at least two per Key Achievement.
Many employers are interested in Key Competencies so you may also consider inserting no more than six bullet points in this area. Ensure they particularly relate to the job you are applying for. For example:
- Demonstrated understanding of the Brokers and Agents Act
- Proven ability to interpret contracts
- High level communication skills
Be sure to use a descriptive word in front of each Competency. Just writing Able to interpret contracts does not have the same impact as Proven high level ability to interpret contracts.
If you aren’t sure what descriptive words to use simply go onto Seek, MyCareer or anywhere job ads are posted, and look at what skills are required in various advertised roles. You will soon pick up descriptors that you can use to describe your key competencies.
Education & Training
Education/Training should be the next heading. You should list in chronological order from the most recent to the past, your education and training. If you hold several qualifications and have undertaken a significant amount of training, you may need to do some ‘pruning’ to reduce the list to make it more relevant and particularly applicable to the job you are applying for. Additionally, if there are more than four or five bullet points under Education and Training, it would be advisable to put two subheadings under the main header showing Education first and Training second.
The next item on your CV/Resume should be your Employment History. It is important to include the month and the years of employment e.g. Feb 2010 – Mar 2014. The reason for including the months is that if you don’t, it could be assumed that you have worked for the shortest possible time in that role and this may be counterproductive to you obtaining an interview.
After the Period of Employment, you should note your Job Title. This in fact is more important to a prospective employer than where you undertook the work. We recommend your job title is bolded. Under your job title insert the name of the company where you performed the work.
If the company is not well known, go to its website and cut and paste a couple of lines [no more,] about it so the prospective employer has some idea of the type/size/nature of the company.
Before getting onto Responsibilities it is not unusual to list ‘Achievements’. We recommend separating Achievements and Responsibilities because if a prospective employer is time poor [and they all are!] your Achievements may be more eye-catching than your Responsibilities.
Ensure your Achievements are limited to not more than six bullet points and these can be a [partial] repeat of the Key Achievements you previously listed.
Responsibilities should appear next and your responsibilities should be listed in order of priority; that is the order in which you spend most of your work time undertaking these duties. For example, filing would not be something that would take up your entire day [unless you were a Filing Clerk obviously,] therefore it would either appear at the bottom of the list, if at all. The quickest way to prepare a list of your current responsibilities is to look at your Position Description [or past Position Description if you are currently unemployed].
We don’t recommend that you go back more than ten years on your CV/Resume unless there are particularly compelling reasons for doing so. The reason for this is twofold; firstly employers and recruiters are time poor and ten years gives them enough of an idea of what you have been doing and what experience you have, and secondly, if you put ‘too much’ experience in it they may assume that you are ‘too experienced’ [which they may interpret as ‘too old’ and discriminate against you].
Computer skills should also be noted on your CV/Resume. Include employer-specific software. This demonstrates versatility and adaptability and may also be software that is familiar to a prospective employer.
If relevant, include your typing test results here. [You can go to www.typingtest.com and undertake a free typing test.]
If listing Microsoft Office you should note your proficiency level for Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc [e.g. MS Word – Intermediate].
We don’t recommend that you provide referees’ details on your CV/Resume; simply note Referees’ details are available on request, or something similar. In many cases the industry you work in may be small and by giving a referee's name and contact details, you may be leaving yourself in a position where an informal [and unauthorised,] reference check may be undertaken without your knowledge or consent.
Good luck in preparing your winning CV!
Still not quite confident? Or just time-poor? Leave it to the experts! Call us on  9231 3411 to enquire about our professional resume service and request a quote.