It might go without saying but given that your CV is often the first contact you have with an employer, it’s vital that it gives the best first impression of you. You have a very small opportunity of making a lasting impression to a potential interviewer and with more people than ever now applying for jobs, you need to stand out from the crowd if you’re going to win the marketing job of your dreams.
Many CV’s from even the most highly qualified and suitable of applicants are rejected because of the tone of the CV. Jumping from one tense to another (1st person bouncing to 3rd and back to the 1st), poor layout and a lack of clearly defined headings can make a CV difficult to read and it stands to reason that if an interviewer or HR worker has twenty CV’s to read for one job, they’re going to be ruthless when rejecting those they don’t like or which aren’t set out properly.
It is well worth ensuring then that you pick the right tone, make sure that your CV is properly laid out and that different areas of skill, education and experience are clearly highlighted.
From the very beginning, your CV should demand attention. The opening ‘statement’ is often debated as to its relevancy and whether it is actually necessary but think of it as an introduction to you. If your experience and qualifications sell your skills then your opening statement sells you as a person so it’s essential that you use those five (or so) lines as a way of making the employer sit up and take notice. The best way of doing this is to tell them who you are and avoid clichés. You can tell them about your punctuality and strong work ethic in any supporting statement but this opening to your CV is not the right time for that.
Following on from this, it’s essential that the rest of your CV is just as interesting. The most popular books are the ones which grab the reader and don’t let them go whilst a book with an interesting cover but nothing else will be looked at and easily forgotten so keep your experience interesting and make the reader hungry for more.
Being honest is crucial at this point. There’s no point at all in selling yourself to an employer with a particular skillset if you fail to be able to evidence it at interview or in the role itself. The only thing which is definite is that lying on your CV will be found out at some stage and you will undoubtedly be the one to suffer as a result. Whilst it’s accepted that confidence is one thing, lying about yourself is another entirely and if you need to lie in order to be given a chance in a role then it’s not the right role for you
Finally, don’t be afraid to tailor your CV to a specific job or role to make yourself more relevant to the job in question. A generic CV may be rejected even if you and the job in question are destined to be together.
Charles Reybreck is a freelance writer specialising in marketing jobs in London.