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Written on 3/24/11

Your CV - What it does
Way before any employers ever meet you, they are going to lay eyes on your CV, along with your cover letter or application. Our job site may have thousands of roles but we want to help equip you with the best chance of landing your dream role and in a competitive market like recruitment - it is essential that what you send is well written and helps a recruiter evaluate you as an ideal match for their role. Your personal brand is also probably pretty important to you, so you have to make sure that it helps you to promote yourself. 

Your CV - Content
Keep it to a page, maximum 2 don't over design it, print it on day glow paper or have it leather bound. It's the content that counts.

Structure it so you start with a summary of who you are and what you do in 150 words if you can. Then a job by job summary, most recent first - and not an essay but do start with a quick description of the company, your role, the top 3 responsibilities you had and ideally what you achieved. Don't over claim but do talk about your personal effectiveness. Then add any awards, qualifications and other achievements which you think are relevant and  finish off with a bit about your interests - these can be a real conversation opener...the best one we came across was the former parachute regiment soldier, who had originally trained as a sugar decoration confectionary chef.

Your CV - Accuracy
Get someone to read it over for sense, interest and to check the detail - ensuring you haven't inadvertently used today's date as your date of birth or found a spell checker has changed all your references to messaging to massaging...

Your CV - Timeline
If you have gaps in your CV - be honest about them, but be constructive about how you have spent your time, make sure all the dates are consecutive. Otherwise recruiters will guess at what you have been up to or what you are trying to mask. If appropriate talk about bringing up a family, time spent furthering your horizons through travel and training or time spent looking for the right job. The CV is all about you and you should feel confident that as your personal sales document it does you on to the cover letter.

The Covering letter
This is the piece that tailors your CV to the role - whether it's 500 words of copy cut and pasted into an online template or a word document - it remains vital and will earn you the right to an interview if you get it right. Remember also that there may be thousands of jobs online but you only want one and you want the best fit...but so does everyone else. You can expect to be competing with over 12 other people for every application you submit so use the covering letter to respond to the detail of the job description and the kind of person they are looking for, talk about your motivations - keep the language sober and focused and don't forget to focus on why this job and this company. If you do use a standard letter check you haven’t left details about the last role you applied for in the copy - that's a guaranteed no starter.

The Application Form
If there's an application form fill it out - even if it repeats your CV - it's the hiring companies call about how they want your information. Don’t, don’t, don’t simply refer to your CV.

Make sure also that you have a couple of good references from previous or current employers although check your company policy as some may only confirm your title and dates of employment.

Check that they are happy to be your reference or you might find you get a howler just because of not can be good to include a character reference from someone who knows you well and can endorse you from a position of responsibility - probably not friends and family –so not Auntie Flo on this occasion...

Key words
And now as they say in the shampoo adds for the technical bit...keywords – our job boards allows e-recruiters to use Boolean logic to parse (search) the free text in your CV to find matches. The better your keywords the higher up the CV returns lists you will come. Keywords could include customer service, fashion, team work...they could also focus on the products, sectors or geography but for sure they will vary from role to role look at the kind of jobs you are looking for and try to include the terms they use in your own CV.