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What does your CV say about you?

If you're a graduate applying for your first job in IT, you need to make sure that your CV is primed to stand out from the crowd. This means perfecting the format, content and presentation to ensure that the reader can find the information they are seeking quickly, and easily.

Your CV is your shop window for potential employers, you need to make sure this is as concise as possible and has no spelling or grammatical errors. As a recruiter I have many candidates who present their CV to me who don’t take the time to tailor their CV to the position they are applying for and include lots of irrelevant information. The key to a good CV is to be clear, concise and know your audience.  Andrew Thurstans - Oracle Team Leader Maximus IT


Formatting Tips

Make sure your CV is no longer than two sides of A4: Many graduates make the mistake of writing an essay. If a company CEO can present an entire career within this space, so can you.

Keep it readable: Aim for as much white space as possible. Print the CV on white paper if a hard copy is required and choose a simple font that all systems will recognise - ideally Arial or Times New Roman.

Avoid fancy serif fonts, fancy colours or tiny fonts: Size 10 minimum is best. Keep paragraphs spaced out and use boxes and bullet points to improve presentation as necessary.


Structure Best Practice

Make sure that your name and contact details are legible and clear at the top. Make sure that they are correct - more than one candidate has missed an interview because he provided incorrect details!

Relevant, brief and accurate. Talk about what you have delivered, what business problems were solved and not just what you know- Symatrix

Lead on with a personal statement. A few lines that tells the reader who you are and what you’re looking for. Make it punchy and direct, using clear and simple language with action words. Don't go overboard with jargon, but feel free to use relevant terms and acronyms where necessary and where they will be understood by the reader.

Follow on with your work experience. If you have some strong and relevant experience it is worth flagging up. Otherwise, for a graduate position, feel free to lead with your academic credentials. Start with the most recent achievements and work backwards. Carefully edit to remove 'fluff' and information irrelevant to your application. Be sure to add details of training, courses and other qualifications gained alongside your core education.


Content

Highlight key points backed up using hard data as far as possible. Position yourself strongly, rather than using 'we' continuously. Use bullet points for ease of reading. With space at the end, feel free to add a couple of lines about your hobbies and interests, but make them relevant and designed to flag up desirable skills. Think about why you are adding it – does it add value to your application? Write about benefits, not features i.e. don't just state what you have done, explain how what you have done will benefit the employer. For example, volunteering shows responsibility and commitment and sports coaching shows team work and communication.

Describe your experience and certification in a maximum 1.5 pages for junior professionals; 2.5 for senior professionals. If you have no experience, then place the emphasis on the skills you've acquired through your hobbies, student jobs etc. eProseed - CFO/HR


Presentation – The Detail

Remember, you don't need to include your marital status or age and should never provide a photograph. Make sure your spelling is accurate and your grammar perfected. Never rely on the programme spellcheck system - always manually review the CV on-screen and then again in print. It's also worth asking a trusted friend, relative or colleague to carry out a detailed proofing check for you - it's very easy to miss mistakes in something you've been poring over!

Attention to detail is an essential skill to have in many IT related jobs, don’t fall at the first round of filtering because of careless, unnecessary mistakes. James Haslam, CEO, UK Oracle User Group

Don't forget to accompany your CV with a good covering letter targeted for the job in question. It's also good practice to run both past your recruiter to check that they are on-target for the sector you're applying to. Your recruiter is an expert in the field and a mine of information - make use of it!

Remember, creating a good CV for each position you're applying for will take time, but it's an investment – the return is saving you time job hunting by securing a job early on.

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