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Top 5 Tips: CV Writing

30/07/15
Writing and putting together a good CV is essential to get the job you are looking for. Every prospective employer wants to review CV’s that are interesting, relevant and eye catching, so they aren’t sifting through rafts and rafts of CV’s to find the good ones. After all, for many hiring managers out there, recruitment takes up a very small part of their day and overall job. You may have only a few seconds to make an impact on the person reviewing it. So it is very important to make an instant impact and gather their attention quickly and effectively.

I have worked in Geoscience recruitment for nearly three years and reviewed hundreds of CV’s in this time. I therefore know from experience that when a CV doesn’t gather my interest straight away, I move away from it very quickly. 

I will now go through what I believe to be the Top 5 tips to writing a good CV, and what recruiters and managers look for once a CV is placed in front of them. 

Number 1: Format

The format of a CV is extremely important to get right. The layout that nearly everyone wants to see is something that is clear and concise. Start by having your personal details at the top of the first page, i.e. home address, phone numbers (home, office & mobile) and email addresses (personal & work). This makes it simple to have an understanding of your proximity to a potential employer and also make it very easy for you to be contactable with all your details very accessible.

When I am reviewing CV’s, it makes my job far easier if I can see all the information very clearly in front of me and I do not have to go hunting for key information. This is always present in the best CV’s that I see and can make someone standout above most others. 

Set your experience by most recent first, right the way through from your School or University qualifications (whichever may be relevant). This will allow employers to see exactly where you’ve worked (company names and locations), the length of time you were in each job, (dates) your job title and your key responsibilities and achievements in each position. It is very important to get that last part correct, as a hiring manager does not want to sit and read through every single duty in each role you’ve had.

Highlight four or five key responsibilities in each role, and three or four key achievements. This way, a manager can get a quick overview of what you have achieved and the relevance it holds to the job they are looking to fill. Whenever I am speaking to hiring managers to receive feedback for CV’s, nine times out of ten they all say that not having to read through paragraphs of text, or CV’s which aren’t laid out correctly, makes their lives so much easier. 

Number 2: Language

The use of jargon, clumsy expression or clichés can be highly detrimental to individuals who may be impressive face to face, but cannot express this on the page in front of them. Instead of using the 'I' pronoun; 'I did this, I did that', use positive action words to begin each relevant point you make. e.g. 'Initiated this, created that”, which will come across as more dynamic. This will give a more energised feel to your CV and help reinforce the message that you are a positive, more than capable candidate.

As mentioned in the Introduction, you have a short space of time to make an impact. So using the appropriate language is key. I also believe that trying to avoid using abbreviations of certain terms and nouns is important. For example, using ‘North Sea’ instead of ‘N. Sea’ and Gulf of Mexico instead of ‘GoM’. Not everyone may know what you are referring to and taking this for granted could be to some extent, viewed negatively. 

Number 3: Tailoring a CV

It is vital to ensure that a CV is relevant to each job application the candidate is applying for, rather than sending the same generic CV.

Many candidates write a broad CV because they want to keep their options open. However, unless it is clear who you are and what you do, then recruiters and employers will find it difficult to see a match with a specific opportunity. A good tip for this, which I always give candidates is to use the role profile for the job you are applying for. Highlight your experience and how it is intertwined with the responsibilities of the job. 

Number 4: Career Summary

Your Career Summary should come at the start of your CV underneath your personal details and information. This is something I always like to see, as it is the candidates’ chance to give the employer or recruiter a brief oversight into that person’s background and sell themselves into a potential job. Again, it must remain short and to the point, so that it gathers someone’s attention quickly. It could include things like; company’s worked for, key career achievements, technical expertise (i.e. Seismic Interpretation), areas of the world you have worked in and your key personal and professional attributes.

This is especially relevant in Geosciences, as so many jobs are specific to working on a certain region of the world, different geological characterisations and a specific skill. Whether this be Exploration or Development focused for example. 

Number 5: Keep your CV up to date

Keeping your CV up to date is important so that the candidate does not forget important responsibilities, achievements, dates and projects. This is a helpful tip even when someone isn’t keeping an eye on the jobs market. The last thing you as a candidate want, is to think of a key achievement or responsibility in an interview that isn’t highlighted in your CV. This way, you are able to not be taken by surprise.

Additionally, there have been plenty of occasions where I have received a CV from a candidate and they have gaps which aren’t accounted for. If a hiring manager is to see this, it will raise all sorts of questions in their minds and could be detrimental towards your application.

To summarise, if you are writing a CV that you want to stand out in a crowd, the things to remember are: keep it as short as possible and to the point, display your experience in order (most recent first), sell yourself and highlight key points to make it easy for a manager or recruiter to read. Doing this should hopefully help you put together a good CV!

After you’ve had a chance to review, or amend your CV, why not apply for some of our live jobs… 

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