Writing a CV

There are many sources of advice about how best to prepare a CV and much is written about the ‘rules’ involved but really there are only guidelines as to what makes a good document. The key to remember is that no matter what field you work in your CV is a sales document and must maximise the impact of your profile both visually and in terms of content.

You can look at examples of CV templates but this is not always the best way to approach the process as it may limit your creative input. There is strong evidence that the most effective CVs are those that are tailored or customised to a specific occupation or job. You need to think of creating several CVs rather than a single document. The following categories are typical ways of organising the content:

Personal Information

Biographical Information: Name and Address, telephone number. Other information may be added but only if it is relevant to your ability to perform the job.

Career Aims or Personal Profile (Optional):
This should be a short concise summary of you as an individual.

Education and Qualifications
This provides details of your educational achievements to date, giving particular prominence to those most recent and/or relevant. It is often best to list your education and qualifications in reverse chronological order, and good practice to provide some details of your degree. Thee is no need however to list all the subjects in your GCSEs/O levels.

Employment / Work Experience
This should be again be in reverse chronological order, with most space used on most recent positions. An irrelevant role you performed 15 years ago is unlikely to be of much interest to a potential employer. However, do include a mention of every job you have had; do not start your CV in 2001 if you actually started work in 1992, just do not go into detail for your first jobs.

Achievements
This section provides an opportunity for you to sell yourself pointing out: key activities, strengths, interpersonal skills, related activities / achievements.
Interests and Leisure Activities

General Advice
It is important to give a good presentation of yourself, since the CV is often the first impression you give to the employer. Your CV is more likely to make a good impression if it is:

Spelt correctly – there are no excuses for spelling mistakes when you can use the spell check function. In addition, as your CV may contain technical words that a spell checker may not recognise, it is good practice to re-read once you have run the spell checker just to make sure that you have not missed any rogue ‘red lines’.
In MS Word format. DO NOT prepare your CV in MS Excel – it is not designed for this purpose and makes searching and formatting information difficult for recruitment consultancies.
Particularly when sending a CV to recruitment consultancies try to ensure that the first page shows your most recent experience.
The layout needs to enable the reader to find the information they need quickly and without difficulty.
When deciding on layout, try to stick to the following rules:

Give priority to your strongest selling points.
Use headings and sections to signpost your reader to the information they are seeking.
Be consistent in how you organise information.
Avoid either dense blocks of text or large blank areas.
Do not let your CV be longer than three sides of A4 if possible – four at the most.
DO NOT
Recruitment agencies see hundreds of CVs a week – here is a guide to the things you should definitely not include:

Life philosophies or phrases that you think sound good – other people probably wont agree so just stick to the facts.
Over personalisation – e.g. names of children/partner, type of car you drive, height, weight, religion etc.
Jokes – you might think they are funny, others will not.
Photos – unless you are a model, actor/actress or flight attendant!
Negative comments about a previous employer or role.
Unexplained gaps in your CV – an employer should be left with no questions after reading your profile and have no reason to put it on the ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ pile if your skills are a good match.
References – this information is provided at a later date, simply stating ‘available on request’ is sufficient.

Finally
Get other people to read it and give you feedback – particularly experienced recruiters

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With over 10 years experience in executive search coupled with more than 6 years in the security industry I have the tenure to provide expertise in this field. I lead the team from the front and I enjoy getting my hands dirty so to speak. I participate in every search and one value I always stick to is 'my word is my bond'.

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Simon has many years experience of recruitment and spends alot of his time managing the recruitment website www.securityjobsfinder.co.uk. This is a specialist security website which was designed by us to provide security installation engineers, guards and sales support services.

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