Liberty PR has embarked on a new phase of recruitment and expansion, so we’ve spent many an hour over the past few weeks reading through CVs from job applicants. Some have been great, others could have been improved with a few simple steps. We’ve put together some advice on how to make your CV work harder – especially if you’re looking to work in a PR agency.
People often get stressed about writing their CV and it’s easy to see why. Taking a long hard look at yourself, where you are in life and where you’d like to be isn’t generally a comfortable experience.
But the key thing to remember is that your CV is just there to do one simple job – to get you to the next stage of the recruitment process. It doesn’t need to be a work of art, it’s just got to make the person reading it want to meet you.
There are some basic tips you can follow to help this happen – which will hopefully mean your CV ends up in the pile of ‘possibles’ on the recruiter’s desk, rather than in the recycle bin.
The first rule of getting a CV right is … getting it right (especially if you’re applying for a role which involves writing). That means no spelling mistakes, rogue apostrophes or typos. You’d be surprised how many applicants don’t bother to use spellcheck – don’t be one of them.
Before you even start writing, though, think about what you do. Properly. That means analysing the things you do every day – whether at work or in your spare time – for transferable skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Write them all down. Doing this before you start should leave you feeling less daunted by the process, as you begin to realise just how much you’ve got to offer.
Keep it simple. There’s no need to use fancy artwork – your CV should stand out because of its content rather than its appearance. Having said that, set yourself some basic layout rules, keeping section headings and body text consistent throughout, so it all looks neat.
Sell yourself from the start. A short personal statement (keep it to one paragraph) explaining who you are and what you have to offer should do just that. If you’re applying for lots of different jobs, make sure you tailor this section to the specific job you’re applying for.
But… avoid adjective overload. It’s great that you’re ambitious, dedicated and hard-working, but on their own these words don’t mean very much to a potential employer. Instead, let the facts speak for themselves – highlight that first-class degree, successful blog or those years of experience.
Then choose a structure that works for you, by breaking what you want to say into key sections: employment, work experience, education, voluntary work etc.
So, if you’re straight out of uni with a relevant degree and applying for graduate jobs, your education might be your next section, followed by work experience – whereas if you’ve got a few jobs under your belt, then an employment section listing your various roles and the skills they demonstrate would be the obvious next choice. If you’re returning to the workplace after some time out, however, a skills section high up might highlight your talents best, as you can include (relevant!) things you’ve done at home or in a voluntary capacity.
Be thorough, but keep it to the point. Wherever you put your employment section, list every job (most recent first) and highlight the key tasks and responsibilities, especially those that will be of use in the role for which you’re applying.
When you’ve finished, remember the first rule. Re-read it all the way through. Go back and triple check facts, the spelling of names and places, your contact information. Use spellcheck. Ask a friend to proof read it for you. And ask them – does it say what it needs to say about me?