So far in this career management series we have looked at getting to know yourself a bit better, writing accomplishment statements and how to decipher vacancy adverts. In this post, I want to introduce you to some key points and content of a CV (curriculum vitae).

The CV, a marketing tool in your career management tool kit

A while ago, I wrote a post on the purpose of an application form… a CV, in my view, like an application has one primary purpose – to get you sat in front of a recruiting manager. To do that it must present you in an interesting and favourable manner; demonstrate you have the appropriate expertise, experience and skills for the position you wish to be considered for. Finally, it must demonstrate achievements/accomplishments that will provide evidence of action and in what situations/environments you have achieved them.

Key characteristics of a CV

For your CV to have the appropriate impact I would suggest that you consider the following as a list of key characteristics or areas to focus on.

  • Succinct – conventional wisdom is to keep your CV to two to three pages. It must be sufficiently long to allow for the presentation of the key information you want to convery. Brief and concise
  • Easy to read, both in terms of content and layout. Avoid jargon and acronymns that may not be understood by recruiter
  • Truthful, what you present in your CV will be interrogated during the recruitment process so tell the truth. Alongside thruthful also focus on accuracy; make sure qualifications, times, facts and figures are correct; you want to avoid tripping yourself up
  • Attractive, the content should be attractive to the recruiter and aesthetically pleasing
  • Positively phrased, using strong action verbs and language
  • Adaptable. A CV is not a one size fits all kind of document. It will need to be adapted for different roles and application requirements
  • Results focussed.
  • Totality, the CV should be complete content wise and have no unexplained gaps in career history

You will notice that the key content I have presented you with can be remembered by the acronymn SET APART, a well constructed CV will SET you APART from other candidates.

Key content areas of a CV

Within the various publications on the topics surrounding career management there are lots of opinions on what should or should not be included in a CV. Some advise on having an objective, a statement about the job function or roles you are looking for which also focuses on your strengths; whilst others suggest you should have a profile, which is a succinct statement of key skills and capabilities. However, there tends to be more universal agreement about the following items:

  • Contact details – perhaps this is an obvious statement; the recruiter must be able to contact you. Be careful when posting CVs on web jobsites not to give away sensitive information
  • Experience (career history) – start with the most recent position first. Include Job Title, Employer, start and end date. Then follow up with a brief description of your role/duties
  • Education – include the educational establishment and dates. Start with your highest qualification first. There is no need to list every qualification, if you have a degree do not include GCSEs for example
  • Professional qualifications/memberships – institutions, awards, certifications, publication and patents etc.
  • Achievements – make these as succinct and punchy. Use those generated using I SPARK in the prior post. Focussing on the action and result. Depending on the type of CV you are preparing these will appear in different places. On a chronological CV you will place achievements under the position where you achieved it. On a functional CV you will include an separate achievements section near to the start of the CV.

Two types of CV commonly used in career management

There are two commonly used types of CV that are widely quoted in career management literature, each of which provides a slightly different focus

  • Chronological – this is the type of CV that lists work experience in reverse order, latest first, and groups your achievements with the position in which you accomplished them. This is used in the career management arena to demonstrate growth and development over time, particularly when your objective is to demonstrate experience in line with the the post you are applying for
  • Functional – here the emphasis in your career management campaign is to focus on skills and accomplishment. There is less emphasis on positions. This type of CV is more useful when you are looking to move to a different industry or vocation where your skills have been developed in a somewhat different environment

Career Management - key elements of your CV

2CV, but not the
2 CV types used in career management

Creative Commons License photo credit: Hugo90

There we are then, some key elements of a CV that you should consider as you move forward. In the next post in this career management series I will cover some key elements of covering letter.