In part two Jane Bradley, an Oxford Open Learning tutor and professional CV writer, provides five more tips for home study students on how to write an effective CV.
Carefully tailoring your Personal Profile and Objective sections to suit the position you are applying for is crucial. Recruiters need to be able to visualise how you will fit into their company, but sending out a patently generic CV gives the impression that you haven’t done your research and, to be frank, are a little lazy. Read the job criteria for each position carefully and make it easy for recruiters to shortlist you by covering every point.
It seems so obvious, but I have seen many CVs with such glaring spelling errors that it is no wonder the person who wrote them is struggling to get an interview. You can have the most relevant work experience, the best grades and a beautifully presented CV, but I guarantee most employers will be put off by basic errors. It looks sloppy and lazy. Check, re-check and check again. If spelling isn’t your strong point, find some who is confident at it and ask them to give your CV a thorough read through. Watch out for Americanisms (in the UK we do a “Training Programme”, not a “Training Program”. We also work for “specialised organisations”, rather than “specialized organizations”) and remember these are unlikely to be highlighted by your Spellcheck. Beware of homophones (do you mean “your”, or “you’re”? Are you perfect for the “role”, or “roll”?) and make sure you choose the correct punctuation.
‘References available on request’ is all you need to put and do make sure you have asked permission from your referees before including their information. It’s common courtesy.
There’s a difference between highlighting your strengths and bending the truth, so if you claim to have managed a successful project, when in fact you were just part of a team, don’t be tempted to lie. Did you really spend your gap year building an orphanage in Ghana? Get all 5 A*s at A Level? It’ll be embarrassing when you get caught out (you will) and could actually backfire if you get called to an interview for a position that is just not suitable for you! So the bottom line is, don’t make claims that aren’t true. Focus instead on your achievements and what you can add to the company.
So you hated your last boss? Felt your talent was wasted in a business that was going no-where? That’s fine, but your next employer certainly doesn’t want to hear about it. Even if you feel badly treated, it’s probably best not to bring it up on your CV. It’ll make you seem bitter and like a bit of a trouble-maker.
For more information on Oxford Open Learning’s distance learning courses contact a student adviser on 0800 9 75 75 75.