Before you put pen to paper to write your CV, take some time to consider your personal profile. Sit down with a sheet of paper and decide on some key headings under which to list things. For example:
- personal goals
- academic accomplishments
- sector-specific work experience
- other work experience (including part-time or casual work)
- leisure, voluntary and extracurricular activities.
This will give you a huge database of application-friendly skills and personal accomplishments that you can use on your CV and application form.
CV structures and etiquette
Like your covering letter, CVs should be tailored to suit each position. The content should reflect the position’s job spec: by highlighting corresponding skills, employers will be able to imagine you more easily in the role. While structure is important, you also need to be creative so that your CV doesn’t blend in with the others. Good quality paper, a neat font style and descriptive explanations of roles will help employers remember your application for the right reasons.
The chronological CV
The traditional chronological CV format is normally two A4 pages and includes the following sections:
- personal details (include term and home address if applicable)
- academic history (reverse chronological order)
- work experience (reverse chronological order)
- achievements (academic and personal)
- interests (brief overview)
- referees (normally one academic and one professional).
The skills-based CV
The skills-based CV is also two A4 pages in length. The structure is slightly different from the chronological CV in that the focus here is on the key skills required for the job, with evidence of how you have demonstrated each of them. Key skills that you might want to cover include:
- problem solving
- IT proficiency
- self-motivation, flexibility and enthusiasm.
The structure should also include a list of key achievements and a personal statement or career objective near the beginning.
A hybrid CV
Will include elements of both a chronological and a skills-based CV.
Show a version of your CV and covering letter to a careers adviser, family member or friend for feedback before sending it off. An extra pair of eyes could spot things you have missed. It’s also good to keep a note of dates and make a polite follow-up telephone call to check that your CV and covering letter have arrived.
Six ways to make the wrong impression
- Poor spelling and grammar – it shows a lack of attention to detail and accuracy, and the consulting profession demands a high standard in both. Applications may be binned on this basis alone.
- Text message language and smileys – do U want 2 get the job? If so, only correct English language usage will do and a smiley wink won’t get you anywhere. Keep e-mail and online communication formal and polite.
- Dubious e-mail addresses – keep it professional. email@example.com doesn’t create the right impression.
- Voice mail messages and phone calls – recruiters may call to confirm details or to schedule an interview time, so don’t answer the phone screaming ‘whazzzzzup!’ Likewise, check your voicemail message and keep it polite and simple. All impressions count so don’t blow it at the very beginning.
- Application addressed to the wrong firm – an immediate black mark against you. Check that you have addressed all correspondence to the correct person at the correct firm, and double check spelling of company names.
- Not following instructions – if there are no special instructions other than 'email your covering letter and CV to 'firstname.lastname@example.org' then paste the main text of your letter into the email message (include your contact details as a signature at the bottom) and attach a copy of it along with your CV attachment. Watch for specific requirements, however.