A good CV not only acts as an initial attraction tool, but equally importantly enables you to showcase your talents and skills during an interview.
Not every hiring manager is a good interviewer – you need to make their job easier by providing information about yourself that allows you to have more of a business conversation than an interview – that means providing interesting, relevant and digestable information in a format that helps them to frame their questions.
A typical format should begin with your contact details including a mobile number and email address, together with 3-4 sentences that highlight your skills and experiences. If you are CIPD qualified, it’s worth re emphasising the fact at this point.
Working on the principle that the interviewer may skim read or not go further than page one, it’s vital that first impressions count (also, don’t forget to choose an appropriate font – avoiding Comic Sans at all costs!)
Now for the main body of your CV – your work experience and career history…….
This should include what you do and also how and what you’ve achieved including any specific projects that you have worked on.
All of which can lose relevance unless you set some context around it. This often gets overlooked, but is actually one of the most important parts of your CV for several reasons:
not everyone will have heard of your company or what it does, nor know it’s size/scale of operation
context helps to explain and frame the WHY of your role – otherwise you risk your role appearing to lack purpose
you don’t want to waste valuable interview time explaining what the company does etc
it also allows you to demonstrate your commercial acumen when you are talking about the company’s customers and ‘route to market’ ie how it generates revenue
Your current role needs to provide the most amount of detail, as it’s likely to be this one that helps you to get your next job, and therefore should be allocated priority in terms of space and content.
Then you need to repeat the exercise of context, responsibilities, achievements, outcomes and projects for each of your other roles, but not in so much detail.
Remember that you don’t have to include every aspect of every job – be selective, so that at interview you will be asked questions that allow you to really showcase and highlight your talents.
Finally, you need to close off with your education, professional qualifications and relevant work related courses.
I usually advise leaving off any hobbies (it can allow the interviewer to pre judge you) and you don’t need to mention anything about references at this point.
In terms of length of CV, it really depends on your level of experience and what feels right – I’d suggest 2 pages for an HR Advisor for example; 2- 3 pages for an HR BP and up to 3-4 pages for an HoHR/HRD.