Building Your CV
Recruiters and employers will receive dozens of job applications at once, so here’s how to make your CV stand out.
The good news is keeping it basic is what employers want. Your CV is what will get you an interview. It needs to be clear, concise and targeted at the role you are applying for.
You Don’t Need To Tick Every Box In The Job Ad
It can be hard to know the most relevant information to include but fortunately, employers tell you what they are looking for in their job ads. Employers are not looking for applicants to tick every single box. Think of it like a wishlist, if you can offer some of the skills and qualities, then you’re off to a good start.
Employers seek three key attributes: personal qualities, transferable skills, and technical skills.
And here’s the thing — generally 80 per cent of ads focus on personal qualities and transferable skills. Just 20 per cent are actually about the technical capability. Not having the technical skills is not a deal breaker. Look at ALL the skills and qualities they are asking for and decide if you fit the job based on the boxes you tick overall.
Showcase Your Skills
Here’s how you match your skills to the job advert:
- Review your skills and identify the key skills and qualities the employer is looking for.
- Do the same with the job or person description (if there is one).
- Visit careers.govt.nz – this will give you a generic list of skills, qualifications and experience levels recommended for the job.
- Research the organisation – what is their philosophy? who are their customers? what is their goal or vision?
- List your skills and experience that match the job and the organisation’s goals.
- Gather evidence and examples of how your skills and experience match the job. Always look at the information in the ads and make sure that your CV aligns with the job.
Don't tell them you can do cartwheels if they need you to do handstands — tell the employer what they want to know.”Claire French - Career Coach
Formatting Your CV
Don’t overdo your CV layout with fancy graphics and creative design (unless this is the type of job you are applying for).
Keep it as simple and easy to read as possible.
Use simple headings and bullet points to organise the information and avoid overcrowding to try and cram every last bit of experience onto a page. Some employers use software that recognise words, so use key words and language that match the job ad.
There are 3 parts to a great CV:
Describe your passion for why you want to work in that industry.
Highlight some personal qualities by including a short sentence to say “these are the personal qualities I’ll bring to the role.” It's one of the few places you’ll get to express these and it's really important for the employer to see.
Be confident - don’t write “I think” write “I am”.
2. Work History
Put your most recent experience first and keep it to the last 5-10 years. If you’ve been working in the same job for a long time (10-15+ years), the employer doesn’t need to see every job you’ve had prior to that, unless that experience is relevant to the job you’re applying for.
List skills from the ten top transferable skills on the Power Up Your Vision page and/or what the job needs and put evidence statements that demonstrate how you do this.
For example - Self-management: ”I led the development of a new customer services manual. This was delivered on time and within budget.”
You can use real life situations to describe transferable skills. You don't have to have used them within a work situation - that's what makes them transferable.
If your work experience is a long time ago, and you feel apprehensive to put that into your CV - flip the skills and the work history around to have skills first.”Claire French – Career Coach
If your technical experience is from a while ago, just label it ‘relevant experience’. You don't need to put dates on a CV if that experience was 10 years ago – just put it up to the top and don’t put the dates on.
In job adverts, you'll find certain words are repeated a lot. They are key words. If you haven't got those in your CV, you've missed an opportunity to connect with the employer. Use language they're using, because it shows you are on the same page.
Adding a 'personal interests' section at the end is an optional way to show your unique self and get the recruiters to see you as a person rather than just a CV.
Whether your interests are spending time with family, photography, yoga, hiking or walking your dog, it enables the recruiter to connect with you and may just help you get one step further.
When your CV is good to go, it's cover letter time.