Be Objective About the Subjective
Putting your CV together need not be difficult if you keep your prospective employer’s point of view in mind. The information you offer should tell the employer what they need to know. Broadly speaking, that will include an indication of the quality of your mind and of your potential as demonstrated by your academic achievement. Your future employer is also interested in how your experience relates to the work he wants done. You should be your own most important client at this stage, so your CV should demonstrate how well and how economically you can make a case for yourself.
More subtly, the employer will try to discover whether you are the kind of person who will fit with the culture of the firm and its clients. Remember that you need to differentiate yourself in a competitive hiring market. You have a better chance of being invited for an interview if your CV is brief but informative (disclosing enough to warrant further interest) and has been tailored for the specific employer and positions. Use examples of the type of work you have been involved in and include specific projects, their values and what your input to their success was.
This can sometimes be harder to write than the CV. Indicate the position for which you are applying; the employer may already know but may also have advertised more than one position. Be helpful and be clear about what you want. Do not waste time with pleasantries. And do not add information you have not considered important enough to include in the CV.
A proven methodology is to call attention to a section of your CV that you believe is of particular interest in relation to the position. A hand-written letter is preferred unless, of course, your handwriting is difficult to decipher, in that case, type it. Whatever medium you are using to apply for a vacancy, your covering letter/email is a key differentiator. An astonishing number of application letters are verbose, over written, or convey little additional appropriate information. Keep your covering letter brief, a maximum of one side of A4, but clearly state your case.
Preparing Your CV
Your CV should be typed or printed on good quality, white or off-white paper. Complex layouts or coloured papers will not win you any points within a conservative profession. The most effective CVs are individually prepared for each specific application to highlight different skills or experience relevant to the role you are applying for. The general order of a clear CV is:
- Biographical data; name, address, date of birth etc
- Education. Qualifications
- Current employment
- Experience. - Salary (current and/or requirement)
- Miscellaneous additional information
CV Tips / Recommendations
- Remember to put your address and contact details on the CV, not just on the covering letter.
- Include the number of ‘O’ Levels/GCSEs you hold. The subjects of your ‘O’ Levels/ GCSEs are less important.
- Provide full information on your ‘A’ Levels, number, subjects and grades.
- Describe your degree by subject, level achieved and where gained.
- Include honours if they are relevant. Academic or professional honours, in areas that relate to Property, are of obvious relevance. Your swimming prize and acting trophy may not be, unless of course you know for a fact that your interviewer is passionate about those subjects.
- Indicate where you took your secondary education.
Show, Don't Tell
Describe your current and past employment fully but briefly. Include the name of your employer, job title, dates, month and year of employment. If you believe something in your past is particularly relevant to the job your are applying for, make sure to mention it.
Apply for positions where there is a reasonable match between your qualifications and those sought. Don’t worry if the match isn’t 100 per cent; it almost never is and you lose little by trying. If the population of highly qualified experts needed for a particular position is limited, it is more likely that the employer will have to make some compromise.
Do include outside interests and activities, which show an outgoing nature or that have a bearing on the job. The fact that you speak fluent French or German will be important to a firm with European clients. Employers are increasingly looking for evidence of self-reliance and adventure. Finally, proof read your CV at least twice. Ideally, get somebody to proof read it for you. Always use a spell checker (but don’t rely on it entirely as it doesn’t check grammar e.g. there/their), and save the file with an appropriate file name that is easily searchable for keywords used throughout your CV.
Don’t offer information about failed professional examinations. If you have had to take your examinations more than once, your CV should indicate only the date of passing without referral. If the subject is raised in your interview, of course you must be frank. But if you don’t raise it, the subject may not come up.
Don't put referees on your CV. When they are required, they will be asked for by your employer at a later stage in the hiring process.
Don't share inappropriate opinion. For instance, why should the employer trust your judgement more than his own about your suitability for the job? The same holds true for criticisms of former or current employers. All such opinions indicate your lack of discretion and eats away at your credibility.
Don’t include anything that might create a negative impression. Your political or religious affiliations and participation in controversial activities or groups are best left out. If you feel it is important to include them, subject them to the relevance test. Your membership of a particular political party, for example, might be important to the firm that represents that party.