However, in an intensely competitive job market, you can’t simply tick off all of the obvious boxes when it comes to writing a CV, such as listing your previous roles in reverse order and avoiding any embarrassing spelling or grammatical mistakes.
That’s because your actual career situation will necessarily make a big difference to the steps that you must make to ensure your CV stands out. Here are a few examples of what we mean.
Have you only just emerged from school or university?
Well, in that case, your CV will probably need to be specifically geared towards landing an entry-level role, which is how jobseekers like you typically start their careers.
While there’s much debate these days about what can be said to constitute an ‘entry-level’ or ‘graduate’ job, it’s fair to say that they tend to be jobs that don’t require as much skill, knowledge or prior career experience as higher-level positions. Indeed, you may compete for such jobs without having acquired any real work experience at all during your time as a student.
The typical CV that works well for a graduate, then, emphasises education and skills rather than work experience – although any unpaid experience such as volunteering, job shadowing, student placements or internships should certainly be included.
Or maybe you’re looking for a career change?
If so, you may be in a very different position to a graduate. Indeed, you might have many years of experience in your current field, with a salary to match, but worry that this employment history will be a turnoff to employers in the sector to which you’re looking to switch.
There’s really no need to be downbeat in this situation, although it does necessitate you drawing particular attention to your transferrable skills on your CV. You should pinpoint exactly what you’ve learned or achieved in your past roles, and how this could make you indispensable in the job that you are now seeking.
Facts and figures can also be invaluable for quantifying your achievements when you’re interested in changing career. Even any personal interests or achievements – such as marathon running or voluntary work – can be a useful signal of qualities like commitment, integrity and leadership.
What if you’re seeking to get back into the workplace after time off?
Even if you haven’t had a job for years – perhaps due to time spent travelling, starting a family or returning to university – there are always opportunities to resume your career, even if this is through interim roles to begin with as you continue seeking the right permanent post.
However, you will need to communicate through your CV that your time out of the job market is now over and you are determined to concentrate on your career. You should also be prepared to explain your reasons for your spell away from the workplace, and what you achieved during your break that would be of value to your target employers.
In these situations, it could be worth considering a functional (skills-based) CV, rather than a standard reverse chronological CV. A functional CV focuses on your specific skills and personal qualities. It means you can group together skills developed and used in a variety of different contexts and clearly showcase transferable expertise. You’ll still need to summarise your work history, but this takes more of a backseat, as it usually appears towards the end of the CV. As such, career gaps and less relevant experience are much less noticeable.
These are just a few of the career stages reached by those who turn to our full-time CV writer Rachel Vincent for the CV writing services that you can request through The Career Coach. With new CVs able to be written for graduates, early-stage, mid-level and senior professionals as well as career changers and those seeking a role at CEO or board level, we can serve the full range of needs.