Monday, June 16, 2008

The art of writing your CV

According to Lee McQueen, who won The Apprentice despite stretching the truth about his time at university, a curriculum vitae is merely "a conversational tool". How can you make your CV attractive enough to get that conversation started? A CV should be less about you than about whoever you are hoping will give you a job. Bear in mind that while employers say they seek candidates who stand out, in fact they want people who fit in.

This means making sure you know what they are looking for before you attempt to persuade them that it's you. Look at their website, talk to present or former employees if you can, and get a feel for the kind of buttons to press in your personal sales pitch. If you are responding to a job ad, keep referring back to it. This ensures that you are applying for a vacancy that exists, rather than a vacancy you wish existed.

You should never attempt to palm off the same CV on lots of different employers. If you are applying for jobs abroad, find out whether the preferred CV format is different, and check whether you need a Europass if you're looking for a job elsewhere in the EU. But do have a model CV prepared so you only have to tweak it, rather than agonise over font sizes hours before the deadline.

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