How to write a perfect CV

    • germany5590
      Joined: 02.12.2011 Posts: 50

      I am just starting to write a CV and I was wondering if anyone had any experience in writing them and what I need to watch out for or what I can do to give it the little extra that other CVs dont have.

  • 14 replies
    • Schnitzelfisch
      Joined: 08.11.2008 Posts: 4,952
      Why do you need a "perfect" CV?
    • ExternalUseOnly
      Joined: 30.01.2010 Posts: 3,373
      Would be great to get some tips actually. I've been in the same rubbish job for too long now and have never written a CV before but i'm getting my act together now and ready to move on to bigger and better things but not sure where to start with a CV

      Looking forward to hearing tips/advice/ideas
    • bradomurder
      Joined: 17.10.2008 Posts: 1,330
      The main thing is in the cover letter I think, writing down specific reasons to each job why you want it and why you'd be good at it.

      If you send me you're email on fb i can email you mine as a template if you want. It got me a few interviews and a job so it must be ok.
    • Schnitzelfisch
      Joined: 08.11.2008 Posts: 4,952
      Hey there!

      Well, the single best piece of advice that I can give you is:

      Don't focus on writing a CV if you are looking for a (new) job.

      If you're planning on spamming 200 companies with your e-mail which will include your CV, don't even bother.

      I know that 90% of the people do that, but to what end? They get a shitty job in a mediocre company with "non-negotiable" salary. Yeeey!

      Now, I could give you some generic advice like "watch out for grammar, don't lie, blah blah blah...", but how will you benefit from that? You will be in exactly the same position as 500 other applicants who took the time to google "how to write a good CV".

      BOORING! You don't want an average job. You want a GREAT job.

      In order to get that, you will want to change the approach (if you want a great job you have to know how successful people seek jobs).

      The Top Performer Approach:

      In 3 simple (but not easy) steps:
      1. Find a need/problem
      2. Solve it
      3. Profit!

      It literally is as simple as that. However, since you will probably want a step-by-step guide on how to land an awesome job, I'll give you exact action steps with which you are guaranteed to get great results.

      DISCLAIMER: The following strategy isn't aimed at lazy and sceptic people. It requires hard work and a decent amount of it. It is aimed at the people who are willing to go the distance and not give up after 2 hours. ANYONE can benefit from it greatly IF he takes the time to apply it. Also, don't skip steps. It won't work that way.

      In a couple more simple steps:

      -Figure out what your dream job looks like. Write it down. Be very specific about it (what exactly you would do, in which city, how far away from your home, what would the salary be like, what would your co-workers be like, what would your work environment be like, etc.).
      -Select 3-5 companies at which you would really like to do this job. Aim high, preferably select the top companies in your industry. Don't select more than that. It doesn't matter whether they seek employees via internet or not. If you show them that you can help them earn more money or make their lives easier, they will hire you.
      -Thoroughly research those 3-5 companies (take at least a couple of hours for each company). A part of this should be internet research of course, but you will get way better results if you also talk to people from the company (next step).
      -Ask one or more of the (former) employees out for a cup of coffee/lunch. You might have a friend/family member who worked there, or maybe they know someone who worked there (EVERYONE has WAY MORE connections than they think). If you really don't know anyone, you can always send an e-mail to one of the employees there and ask them out for a cup of coffee/lunch. Very few people refuse that. During the lunch, take notes (bring a notepad). List the things that they complain about. List their PROBLEMS and NEEDS. The most important thing here is to ask smart questions (prepare them in advance of course) and STFU when they talk. Listen and take notes.
      -Ok, so you have a lot of info on these companies now, and you also know their problems. So what do you do? You take a couple of hours of your time and brainstorm + develop solutions to their problems. Write these problems and your proposed solutions to them in word and print them on an A4 paper.
      -Now is the time to kindly ask your connection (who you were at the coffee/lunch with) if they could introduce you to their hiring manager as you would like to present them some ideas to solve their problems. Nobody will refuse you an interview!
      -Before the interview, prepare the answers to the typical questions that are asked on the interview. Practice them until you can comfortably answer to all of them.
      -Another thing that you should do is practice your presentation (of the solutions which you have developed). This doesn't mean powerpoint btw. Just talk and use a drawing board/paper if you have to.
      -If you want to get ahead even more, study some negotiation techniques and practice that as well.
      -Before the interview even begins, you will have 80% of the work done. Interview is only a formality. At the interview, you can relax, answer to the questions without any stress and present your ideas. You should also ask any specific questions that you would like to get the answers to and maybe go for a walk around the offices to see what the work environment and the people are like. You generally don't want to accept the job right away, ask the manager to make you an offer instead.
      -Once you do this process for 3-5 companies (try to schedule the interviews one after another), you should have many great offers.
      -Pick the offer that suits your expectations (which you've determined in step 1) best and enjoy your dream job!

      Now, this process might seem scary at first, but once you break it down and do it one step at a time, you will see that nothing within it is really hard. It just takes a bit of hard work. There is nothing that you couldn't do. If you don't have connections, make them. If you don't know how to negotiate, learn how to do it!

      Now you might ask, "where is the CV?!?!?". Well, there isn't one. On seldom occasions, you will actually require a CV because of formalities, but a CV won't be the main factor which would determine whether you get the job or not.

      So now imagine two people. One sends a CV and a request via e-mail just like the other 500 applicants. His CV + request might get 10 seconds of attention altogether. If it's not really really exceptional, you won't even get to the interview. They might also keep you waiting for 3 weeks before they tell you that you didn't make it to the interview. You don't want that - you want to be the one who controls these things.

      No, it doesn't matter if you write in your CV that you're punctual, reliable, smart, ambitious, creative, willing to take initiative, blah blah blah... EVERYONE writes that.

      You want to take the top performer approach and show these qualities. Show them that you can take initiative by doing all the research and hard work. Show them that you're smart and creative by developing smart solutions. Show them that you're punctual by getting to the interview on time.

      The result will be that the people will desperately want to hire you. It won't be you who will desperately need the job any more. You will get to be picky, negotiate a better salary because you will have leverage, and perhaps you will even get to enjoy a bidding war on yourself by a couple of companies!

      Also, don't worry about whether you have experience or not. Don't worry about working as a teacher. Don't worry about not having an MBA. Get over those barriers and start solving problems - that is what matters in business!

      Now you'll say that you have no time to do all that. Sure. You don't take the time. Every single person on this planet can take an hour a day to work on something that important, if they want to.

      Think about it, you could get a dream job that you would really enjoy and you wouldn't need to suffer in the shitty job that you work at right now. You could also be earning way more money. Maybe $20k more a year. Maybe even $50k more. So don't put this off till tomorrow or till next week. START TODAY!

      If you should have any other questions in this area, I will be glad to answer them. If this is not what you were looking for and you still only want a "perfect CV", then I am sincerely sorry for wasting your time, but I am sure that a lot of other people will still be able to benefit from this.

    • Leito99
      Joined: 27.07.2009 Posts: 754
      Great post Schnitzelfisch! Greatly appreciated! :)

      I am still studying and don't need a job now, but I am bookmarking your post for future reference!
    • dubadal
      Joined: 05.09.2008 Posts: 263
      Schnitzel rocks! great stuff..

      a couple cents from me:
      Make sure you stress projects/tasks which you excelled in that match their field of interest.

      Don't overload it with information that is borderline useless a la that you know how to use Internet Explorer, Word 2010 and minimal knowledge of 5 languages.

      Write a short cover letter aimed at particular employer, logical and structured A4 should be sufficient to outline why they should want you.

      Overall, keep your CV to 2 pages max, unless there is a requirement to elaborate more.

      Put education, courses, previous jobs into neat tables with comments about your achievements.

      Be careful with the jobs you list - while having broad experience is good, employers can be skeptical, if you list 10 jobs over period of 10 years. If you had a "bad" year or two with too many jobs, you could in just write that you were doing some sub-contracting (if applicable).

      Learn your CV and witty answers to standard questions by heart. E.g. you will be asked why you left previous job, what you don't like about your current job, whats your strong/weak traits etc.

      Prepare your questions to the employer - about tasks, team, dress-code, benefits etc. Spend half an hour on their website and find some facts for questions such as "I've seen on your website that you have a talent management program, could you tell me about it?" some more examples

      If you are going for sales/customer communication positions - learn about that market (in particular country) and drop some names. If you go for IT - mention some cool new technologies/mashups, which you would really love to work on.

      As with any conversation, if you can make your interviewer have a conversation with you, where he/she does most of the talking, and not just a routine QA session,will get to the a-list of candidates.

      about are references - you will get asked for those, occasionally, but they are rarely a must. So, prepare one or two (real ones) just in case. A simple scanned letter from your ex-boss sent by email might do too.

      and dont get discouraged if you dont get the 1st of 5th or 10th job. Just make sure to ask, politely, if they could explain why you didn't get the job and do a session review to improve your next one.

      p.s. and be real in what you aim for, as in don't apply for "niche" positions that require specific knowledge/experience/skills which you do not have.
    • pyure
      Joined: 25.09.2008 Posts: 258
      hey Schnitzelfisch !

      Always love reading your posts, such a fresh positive way of looking at things :)

      However, I think though that in some situations your three simple steps go beyond hard into impossible, the most obvious example being recent graduates, especially in areas like engineering or construction.

      In these cases you'll probably have to rely on networking contacts and backing up initial impressions with a good CV.

      Thoughts ?
    • Schnitzelfisch
      Joined: 08.11.2008 Posts: 4,952
      Hey there,

      why do you feel that way?

      You have to understand that if someone will hire you, he will have a need/problem that he will think you can solve. He will hire you because he will see the potential in you to earn them more money or take some work off their chest/improve the spirit of their whole team.

      I think that those are just barriers. It really doesn't matter whether you are a postgraduate, a graduate, a 20 year old or a 60 year old, a male or a female - the top performer approach works in all cases.

      Of course there are some slight differences whether you're a computer scientist, a doctor/surgeon or a teacher, but the core process is usually the same.

      Of course a good CV can help if you use the top performer approach, but without the proper approach, even a great CV is pretty useless ;) . What good is a CV if it won't reach the hiring manager to begin with?

      I agree that networking is important, and that is why networking is a crucial part of the top performer approach. The problem is that a lot of people don't know that they have connections. Everyone has great connections, they only need to find them. And if you don't have them, make them. It's really not that hard.

      There's one more thing that I forgot to touch is work experience. In a lot of areas of work, such as computer science, engineering, marketing, etc., you might actually require some form of experience. However, instead of whining that you don't have experience and can't get a job, you should make your own project and make your own experience. In just a couple of months you can make a great portfolio or even learn a new skill.

      It's funny, just today my GF told me about her friends and how they are seeking jobs... spamming CVs of course. 50 e-mails sent, 4 replies, all of them negative. 0 interviews. And all of them seemed to have very similar approaches, experiences and results.

      What got you here won't get you there!

    • pyure
      Joined: 25.09.2008 Posts: 258
      I guess I'm just feeling a little cynical and jaded by the job hunting process :)
      I lost my job just before the summer, the company I worked for closed down and I spent the next 3 months struggling to find work - wish these posts could have been around back then, I could have gotten some useful tips !
      Anyway, back in college now doing my Masters, so I don't have to worry about it again for a little while yet.
    • Kyyberi
      Joined: 09.07.2010 Posts: 11,150
      I was wondering the same thing couple of weeks ago. The problem was that the job add stated that I need to send a CV (along with other things) and I hadn't made one in my life. And it had to be in english. I asked help in the Skype group, and got good help.
    • roopopper
      Joined: 31.12.2010 Posts: 4,289
      The biggest thing to remember when writting a CV is your employer needs to make a profit!! You need to show that you can help the company make money :f_biggrin:
    • infinitem8rix
      Joined: 04.07.2011 Posts: 10
      Having spent 3 months earlier in the year looking for a job, I can share some of my approaches. I am an experienced professional, not grad, but I think the same logic should apply.
      1) There is no such thing as a generic CV. Companies have job descriptions for a reason. Try to map your skills, education and past experience to the specific job requirements.
      2) You MUST have a cover letter (a unique one for each job application), specifically talking about why you want to work for this particular company, why you think your skills will benefit this company and why are you a good candidate for this particular job.
      3) Depending on past projects and jobs (including part time), highlight the ones that are most applicable to this particular job. Dont waste too much paper real estate on unrelated skills and jobs, however fond of it you might be personally.
      4) Try to incorporate as many industry terms that are commonly used in your CV. Remember, your CV if first being checked by HR, who might or might not know your specific industry, and would be relying heavily on "keyword matches". To get help in this area, read job descriptions as they themselves might include such terminology.
      5) Considering we are discussing this on PS, be selective about personal information that you share, such as listing poker as a hobby. While all members of this site would look at this hobby as a plus, there are employers who might not look favourably on such things. Until you are sure you will not get negatively judged by any hobby you list, dont mention it. Besides, you are applying for a professional position, and your personal life shouldn't be a factor anyway.
      6) And finally, its a tough job market out there. Chin up at all times! If you dont get a job early on in the search, don't lose heart. Hang in there, show the determination and perseverance that you probably show when trying to improve your poker game! Don't lose your head when a less capable person "draws out on you", or you get a "bad beat" by the HR dept. Don't focus on why weren't you given a particular job, instead focus your efforts on the search and the next opportunity that you should apply for. Be positive, and good things will unfold, harvesting negative energy is not usually productive.

      Good luck for your search! May your CV be on fire and your salary a monster!
    • ninuu
      Joined: 04.04.2010 Posts: 205
      Thanks, I have found here very good tips and I thank all of you for the advice on this topic!
    • germany5590
      Joined: 02.12.2011 Posts: 50
      Hey Schnitzelfisch. You are the man. I loved the post.