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How to create a CV that gets noticed

Sep 29, 2019


While you might be the best candidate for a role, if your CV isn’t up to snuff, you could easily be overlooked for your perfect position. Dearbhla Gallagher describes the ideal CV to get a potential employer’s attention.

The presentation of your CV can determine whether employers will look at it, let along read it. Even the best candidates are often let down by how their CV looks and reads, and are often overlooked because of a poorly presented CV.

Your CV is intended to outline your skills and abilities to potential employers and differentiate you from other candidates. A strong CV makes a good impression and boosts your chances of getting an interview, so it’s essential to take time to consider the content and overall presentation.

So, what does a stellar CV look like?

Concise

Keep it short and to the point. Ideally, your CV should not be longer than two A4 pages. The information should be logical and in date order with more recent experience at the top. Include personal information at the beginning of your CV but don’t go overboard. For example, include your name, email address and phone number, but you don’t have to provide your gender, your date of birth or photographs (although this may differ outside of Ireland). This is just enough to allow the HR person to make contact with you and invite you for an interview.

Personal profile

Include a personal profile at the beginning. Employers want to hear about what you can bring to a firm, and this is the place to do it. A short introductory paragraph will give potential employers an overview of who you are. If there’s no evidence in this paragraph that you have the needed skills for the role, it’s likely they will simply move on to the next CV, so it is essential to get this right.

Factual

Keep it real. If the information is on your CV, be prepared to be asked about it by an interviewer. Know every aspect of your CV, from your academic history to your work experience to your other interests.

Employers are not just looking for someone ‘technically’ capable of doing a role; they also want candidates who will fit with the overall culture of the firm so they will dig deep into all aspects of your CV. I am always amazed at the number of candidates who are ‘avid’ readers but are unable to discuss the current book they are reading.

Tailored

Tailor your CV for every role you apply.

Make sure to read the job description carefully, identify the skills required by the prospective employer and highlight them prominently in your CV. If you don’t possess the exact skillset needed, consider how your current skillset can apply to the role.

Spelling and grammar

Read your CV and then read it again to eliminate spelling and grammatical errors. Even better, ask someone else to read it for you.

All too often, HR managers read a claim of ‘excellent attention to detail’ on a CV – which is excellent, except when it’s littered with spelling and grammar mistakes.

While these types of errors might seem insignificant, they can result in your CV, and your job opportunity, to be thrown away.

Dearbhla Gallagher is the Learning & Development Manager at Baker Tilly.