Just the Job: Key points to remember when tweaking the CV

Q: I am an undergraduate looking for a job. I need to write a CV now. However, I intend to return to post-graduate studies next year. Is it possible to write one CV now that will suit both scenarios? (AC, email).

A: You do not actually say what you want the CV for at the various stages mentioned above – for example, is it for summer work now that doesn’t necessarily use your qualification, or the off chance of getting a fulltime job before our postgraduate studies or to use in an application for that college place, writes Mary Reale, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

You need to decide exactly the purpose of the CV at any given time. A CV that will help you secure a college place may look very different to one supporting a postgraduate studies application.

First, remember that your CV is a sales document. It helps you to successfully sell your key competencies and abilities to a potential employer, or, indeed, college. Therefore, you must get a CV that you can easily adapt for different purposes.

It is impossible to get one CV that will suit every purpose. You will always be tweaking it. It is a good idea to build a ‘core’ CV to capture all the key information about you, and then to tweak from there to meet the various scenarios you encounter in your career.

You can do this by following a number of steps each time you have to tweak it.

Let’s look at the job-hunting scenario. Once you have satisfied yourself that you meet the criteria set out in the job description, tailor your CV to show the employer exactly how you meet those requirements.

Firstly, start at the top with the personal profile section. This describes your abilities, who you are, what you can bring to the organisation and your personal goals in your career. Rather than providing a generic personal profile, include keywords from the job description and refer to qualifications, work experience and skills.

From there, continue to tweak the rest of your CV so that it includes some of the keywords and skills listed in the job description. Try to illustrate relevant skills with appropriate examples.

Also, you should consider tweaking the order of your CV. Every CV includes your name and contact details, personal profile, work experience and education. Many also include hobbies and interests. You can mix up the order of these sections to highlight key skills and achievements as they relate to the specifics of the post you are seeking.

As a recent graduate, you may not have a lot of work experience, so it might be a good idea to place your education section before your work experience. This will show your significant selling points right away. Endeavour to keep each section relevant to the job you are chasing and you will create a winning CV.

Thus, you should not need to start from scratch every time you want to apply for a job. You’re just tweaking the ‘core’ CV. This may appear like a lot of work, but it can make the different between your application being successful or not.

In this way, tailoring your CV is a good way to boost your chances of getting to the interview stage.

Slí Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com) offer a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com

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