Why A Good CV Is Your Ticket To Career Success

Why A Good CV Is Your Ticket To Career Success

The word CV is surely up there with overdraft, slow cook and early morning interview when it comes to things guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of a graduate. 

The average CV is fussy, finicky and not half as much fun as you'd expect grooming your own ego on paper to be. The question is - were all of those high school teachers who yakked on and on about personal skills and the perfect layout making a valid point? 

Can a top quality CV really mean the difference between a high-flying graduate position and eighteen months spent eating bread out of the bag and watching cat videos on YouTube? 

Well, according to a recent study conducted by the Association Of Graduate Recruiters, that's exactly what it means. Despite record numbers of students now leaving university with good degrees, sectors like IT, management and engineering are routinely failing to fill vacancies. 

It is claimed that thousands of candidates fall down at the application stage, after failing to spend enough time on CVs, covering letters and personal statements.

The most common reason for failure is, unsurprisingly, poor spelling and grammar - closely followed by insultingly obvious copy and paste-a-thons. 

Whilst meticulously tailoring a single CV to a bazillion different job applications is about as much fun as a day out with Justin Bieber, it's got to be done. There's nothing potential employers hate more than an applicant who wants the job so much, they can't even be bothered to engage with the brief. 

If you're a graduate with a degree that's gathering dust, it could be time to bite the bullet and step back into the world of the wide-eyed, optimistic job hunter. 

If nothing else, all that talk about personal attributes will make you feel better about yourself - that hotshot employer won't know that you're in your underwear, with a sausage sandwich balanced on your belly, when you send him your shiny, new curriculum vitae.  

Here are five top tips that you can use to help you draft a truly compelling CV. 

  1. Proofread It And Then Proofread It Again - it doesn't matter how much time you spent filing during work experience or whether or not your typing fingers move like Usain Bolt on acid, if you can't spell the word 'liaising' correctly. It may be unfair, but even a single spelling or grammar mistake is likely to discourage a potential employer. If you're not a dab hand with words, use online dictionaries, spellcheckers, grammar programmes and the eagle eyes of friends and family members to make sure that all is present and correct.  
  2. Make It Relevant - you might be proud of that C in high school Spanish, but does it have any bearing on the job at hand? Is the head of a marketing company really going to care about the poetry prize that you won when you were twelve? A good CV should be no longer than three pages, and it should be chopped and changed according to the position in question. If that week you spent pulling pints or serving sandwiches is relevant, stick it in there - if it's not, put it to one side. 
  3. Avoid Cliché Like The Plague - these days, there are graduates who send their CVs in on the back of crisp packets, or carved out of balsa wood. They abandon tradition in favour of comedy pie charts and complex infographics, but is it really what employers want? You'd be surprised at how much more influential a traditional black and white CV can be, if it's put together right. You shouldn't be afraid to use words like reliable, punctual and hard-working, but try to avoid overly vague terms like friendly, funny or ambitious - they'll be taken as read. 
  4. Always Tailor Your Personal Statement - a personal statement should be short, but pertinent. If you only edit one part of your CV each time that you apply for a new job, make it this one. It's your chance to very clearly explain why you're the right candidate for the position, so a copy and paste approach isn't good enough. A lazy statement full of vague platitudes is only going to earn you a rejection - reference key requirements, be clear about why you fulfil them and don't forget to include a couple of things that you're excited about getting the chance to learn.  
  5. Don't Lose Sight Of The Game - whilst a quality CV can mean the difference between a dynamic graduate role and an inbox full of rejection letters, it's just a hoop that needs to be jumped. With a spellchecker and an online template, anybody can create a top CV - it actually has very little bearing on whether or not you're well suited to the role. It's not acceptable to lie or deliberately mislead an employer, but we all know that 80% of the average CV is embellishment. If you genuinely believed that you were the most charming, hard-working, passionate person to ever apply for a job at said company - well, you might have trouble fitting your swollen head through the office door.