I know: it isn’t easy writing a CV (curriculum vitae), especially if you’re doing it in English and you’re not a native speaker. (It might be some consolation to know that even if English is your mother tongue, it’s still really difficult!)
But there are a few things you can do to make sure that a potential recruiter considers your CV and, hopefully, calls you for an interview. So, here are my tips for making your CV stand out from the rest:
1. Add a personal profile
I teach a lot of Italian students and I’m always surprised how few have a personal profile at the top of their CV. What is a personal profile, anyway? It’s one or two lines about who you are, highlighting your key qualities and skills. Think of it as the “USP” (Unique Selling Proposition) of your personal brand. Here’s an example of a great personal profile:
Highly-organised and resourceful management professional with the ability to inspire and lead others. I specialise in managing projects in the engineering and construction sectors.
2. Include a Skills section
This can go at the beginning or end of your CV. Your skills are the things you’re good at. Choose the skills that are most relevant for the job for the job you’re applying for. Here are some examples of skills:
- Excellent communication skills
- Highly numerate
- Time management skills
- Problem-solving ability
- Good listening skills
3. Use more powerful adjectives and phrases to describe yourself
You’re applying for a job in an increasingly crowded and competitive market place. So don’t be afraid to “blow your own trumpet” (praise yourself or say why you are the best person for the job). Try using some of these words and phrases when you’re talking about yourself:
- an effective administrator
- an imaginative / creative designer
- a highly-experienced catering manager with a passion for gourmet food and fine wine
4. Be selective
When you’re deciding what to put in – and what to leave out – of your CV, focus on the “highlights” of your career and education. You don’t need to include every job you’ve ever had, especially if they’re not relevant to the position on offer. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a Team Leader in a telecoms company, do you really need to include your first job working in a shoe shop? Maybe you can compress earlier or similar jobs into a summary (and also avoid any gaps in your CV). Similarly, you don’t need to list every subject you studied at school or university. Choose the most relevant ones for the job you’re applying for now.
5. Give examples of your achievements
Some people add this as a separate section. You can also include your “greatest hits” in the relevant descriptions of the jobs you’ve done. Here are some examples of impressive achievements:
- I increased sales of chilled ready meals in our Northern European markets by 14%
- I organised an employee car pool that helped reduce the carbon footprint of our organisation.
6. Include your volunteering activities
Employers like to see that potential recruits are socially responsible people with commitment and a sense of values. If you’ve been active in the voluntary sector, this can also make you more employable. There are other benefits of including your volunteering or charity work, as well. For example, even if you’ve never had a management job, you’ve probably already got some management skills from your volunteering, e.g. organising / setting up projects; training other volunteers; managing resources and money; providing support and encouragement, etc.
7. Say what you do in your free time
Your hobbies and interests can be extremely relevant and help to distinguish you from other candidates with a similar professional profile or background. Sports and other leisure activities show that you like to keep fit, that you’re competitive and can show that you’re a team player. Travel and learning foreign languages (especially English) demonstrate your desire to learn more about the world and people from other cultural backgrounds. And artistic / creative hobbies can show a potential employer that you’re imaginative and able to see situations from a unique / original perspective.
Want to find out more about writing a really great CV in English? Contact me to discuss the best way of approaching potential employers, polishing your CV and covering letter – and how you can increase your chances of getting the job you really want by improving your English language skills.