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How to sell yourself with your CV

Everyone needs an effective CV. After all, its the first impression we give of ourselves to prospective employers. If it doesn't stand out there is a chance that it won't even be long listed despite you being able to do the job standing on your head.

The following tips can be used to enhance your CV so that you'll stand out from the crowd and get the job you really want.

Things you'll need

  • CV
  • Word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Open Office Writer

Making a good first impression

When you look at your CV, what do you think it says about you? When someone else looks at your CV, what do they think it says about you? Asking a friend or relative to give their impression of you from your CV may say a lot about why you're not getting the interviews you want.

Your first step from application towards interview is how your CV makes an impression on the person reading it. Think about how the information is presented on the page. Do you have your name at the top of the page? Are margins consistent throughout the document? Is the chosen font type and pitch (size) easy to read? Is relevant information placed together i.e. all of your employment history together running from newest to oldest? Is your contact information included and, if so, is it up-to-date? And is all of this information concise?

Remember a CV only needs to be 2 to 3 pages in length but the most important information needs to be on the first page. Think about how long the recruiter would take reading through 40 such CV's, they only have time to scan through them at first. If your CV is presented well with clear information it will be long listed.


Provide the recruiter quality information

As already stated, information should be clear and concise. Recruiters don't want to read loads of irrelevant information. All they want is key points to see that you already have the experience and knowledge that's required for the job they are offering. Give them bitesized bulleted points to read over in order to get the gist of what you do or have done in the past. You will get your opportunity to tell them more about your skills and knowlede when you will either be asked to submit a cover letter with your CV or as part of your application within the body of the form.

Have any old written references to hand? Or are you still in touch with previous employers like ResumeWriter? Pick out a choice sentence from these references, something that makes a bold statement about you and include it with the other information relevant to that employer. Just make sure that you can back those references up if the recruiter wants to know where that information came from.


Don't sell yourself short

It is good practice to match your CV to the job description and specification that is relevant to the job you wish to be considered for. This can be done easily by adding a 'Skills and Abilities' section on the first page of your CV, between your personal profile and the beginning of your employment history. Illustrate, in a bulleted list, your top five skills that show you are able to complete the tasks they would expect that person to do.


Start off with a basic block

You've got your CV ready, you can start applying for jobs, right?

You could easily send this off to hundreds of recruiters and still get nowhere, so consider this updated version of your CV as the foundation on which to build and keep it somewhere safe only to be used as your basic template.

Now take a look at that job description and specification again. Is there something you could do to make sure the recruiter knows you can do the job they are offering? Never assume the recruiter totally understands that your skills are transferable from your existing or any previous positions. Make sure you tell them by adapting your CV to meet their requirements.


And finally

Keep your CV updated. Continually keep checking and changing the information on your basic template to make sure it is as up-to-date as possible and keeps inline with current thinking. Don't run the risk of missing out on opportunities because you're not ready to strike immediately. After all, you never know when you might need to use your CV!

Further information

For more advice about CVs including a template and seven successful sample CVs, see our CV guidance section.


This how-to was compiled with information from L J Loftus' taik on Six top tips for a great non-profit CV

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Page last edited Nov 21, 2017 History

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