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It's time to rewrite your CV.

The basics

It's time to rewrite your CV. What may feel like the world's most
tedious task - puffing yourself up and bragging about your
accomplishments on paper - doesn't have to be so painful. Just
remember one thing: your CV needs to stand out. Employers, especially
those who have posted openings on large websites, may receive
hundreds of CVs for a single position. You must express your
qualifications for the desired job in a concise, clear and
aesthetically appealing manner. Here are a few ways to get your CV to
the top of the stack.

1. Organise your life
it's all about function versus chronology. In functional CVs, you
group your skills into categories and then briefly list your past job
titles at the bottom. This format is usually reserved for career
changers who want to de-emphasise huge gaps of unemployment or a lack
of direct experience. Recent graduates and others on a consistent
career path usually opt for the chronological format. These CVs list
your jobs (and duties for each) in reverse chronological order. If
you're a typical graduate, we suggest the chronological format. Most
employers expect to see that format and it best highlights your
education and relevant work experience.

2. Categorise your achievements
when organizing a chronological CV, you should outline sections of
your experience, education, and skills to communicate what you have
accomplished. HR representatives and employers (a.k.a. impatient
executives who couldn't care less about your passionate interest in
yodelling) may take less than a minute to scan your CV, so showcase
and organize items into several concise and relevant segments. If
you've just graduated from university and have not yet been employed,
place your Education section first, directly below the letterhead. In
addition to the basics - university name, degree and graduation date -
you can include relevant coursework that applies to a desired
position, academic honours or awards. If you skated through
university with anything over a 2.2 feel free to put it on your CV.
Other categories might include relevant work experience, Volunteer
experience, Computer skills, Publications, Activities and honors,
Language skills and so on.

3. Make it look good
Along with effective organization, appearance can make or break your
CV. When creating a sexy CV, keep these points in mind:

• Fonts. Whether you email, fax, or post your CV to prospective
employers, you should try to keep your font plain and easy to read.
And select a reasonable size - anywhere between 9 and 12 points
should be acceptable. We suggest using a sans serif font like Arial
or Verdana, not Times New Roman. These will come out much more
clearly in faxes.

• Formatting. Just because you have Microsoft Word and all of its
formatting capabilities, your CV doesn't have to look like a Costa
Brava holiday brochure. Myriad fonts, colours, and graphic
embellishments don't really help, so use minimal

and purposeful formatting. Simple bullets will best separate your
duties and skills; use bolding and italics sparingly. Formatting
should highlight your accomplishments, not draw attention away from
them. Less, in this case, is definitely more.
• Paper. Even if you don't snail-mail your CV to employers, you
should have hard copies on hand to bring to interviews. These copies
should be on tasteful CV-quality paper. White, off-white, cream, and
grey are the easiest to read. Just like your socks, your cover
letters, mailing envelopes and CVs should all match.

4. Content
Now that you know how to organize your CV and what it should look
like, you need to know what to put in it.

• Action words. When describing your prior job experience and duties,
use active language. Instead of starting your sentence with a noun,
start with an active, descriptive, impressive verb. For
example: "Customer Service Representative. Assisted customers with
product selection trained and supervised 15 new employees, organized
special promotional events."

• Numbers. That's right, we said numbers. Always include numbers,
percentages, and amounts in your job descriptions to back up your
achievements. How many people did you supervise? How much money did
you raise? How many wild bears did you feed during your stint at the
zoo? How much did sales increase under your direction? This approach
immediately highlights the kind of impact you've made.

• Length. Keep it to one page. No one wants to scan through two or
more pages of your long-winded accomplishments and experience. If it
doesn't all fit - which it won't, unless you're a graduate with 15
years of professional experience - cut it down to the most relevant
and impressive items. You should tailor your CV to match the job
description, so be sure to cut and paste accordingly.

Now your CV should dance its way across the employer's desk, leaving
the rest behind like a stack of graceless wallflowers. And if your
skills match what an employer is looking for, you'll be snatched up
for an interview. From there, it's up to you: show them you're as
good as that pretty piece of paper says you are.

It's time to rewrite your CV.