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Helpful Tips on Writing Your CV

Everyone can use a little help with their CV, especially if they're pursuing a career in a highly technical field. Here are a few helpful VIQU hints and tips.

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Your CV is likely to be the first time a prospective client will have seen a representation of you and your experience. Getting your CV right can be the difference between getting access to your ideal opportunity or being just one of the crowd.

These ten VIQU tips can help IT professionals optimise their CV’s in order to nab that great new prospect;

1. Understand Attention Spans
Keep in mind that people read CV’s about halfway down the page/screen before deciding if they are going to continue reading, save it for later or hit the delete button. Anything marketable about you should be in the top third of the resume.

2. Make it an appropriate length
The optimal length of the CV will depend on your experience. Some might say a person with a single year’s experience and a four-page CV is excessive, as is a person with ten years’ experience and a one page CV. Be concise and try to fit your CV into three pages. Need to cut down? You don’t need an objective — it’s a waste of precious space, unless you are a career changer. VIQU’s record was a 34 page CV, we helped reduce it to 3.5 pages!

3. General summaries bad, technical summaries good
General summaries can help if used sparingly and appropriately. Technical summaries are more helpful, because the first person reading your CV could be non-technical and only knowledgeable enough to look for keywords. However, there should not be a laundry list of every technology you have ever heard about.

4. Dates matter
Be clear about your dates of employment. Most companies want to see months, not just years — especially if you have some jumps or if you are currently unemployed (i.e. they want to see how long you have been out). It’s better to be upfront than to make them guess. VIQU has unfortunately experienced job offers being withdrawn by clients when back-ground checks don’t tally to the candidates CV.

5. Highlight accomplishments, not just job functions
The descriptions of your positions should ideally be a mix of a broad overview and specific accomplishments. That way, clients will know what you did day-to-day, but also what effect your activities had on the overall company or department.

6. Quality writing still matters
Long-winded paragraphs or bullets are mind numbing, but short choppy sentences can appear simplistic. The ideal CV should have a combination of short paragraphs and bullets — or even just bullets. If you opt for bullets, combine related activities into one bullet where appropriate to save room.

7. Use action verbs
The most overused phrases on CVs are “responsible for” or “participated in.” It’s hard to know if you were just a bystander or a true contributor or even a leader on a project. It’s okay to use these terms once or twice, but it’s much better to use something like “managed,” “completed,” “administered,” “developed,” etc. If you are having trouble coming up with action verbs, a thesaurus should be your new best friend.

8. There are no rules about education placement

Education placement is variable. If you went to a particularly good school, have an advanced degree or have a very relevant degree to the types of roles you are pursuing, then it might be worth putting at the top, but it’s okay for education to be at the bottom, too.

The same applies for certifications — but if you have many, then it might consume too much space at the top. Assuming your CV has the experience to back up the certifications, your prospective employer will be intrigued enough to get to them at the end.

9. People are not that interested in interests
The ubiquitous “Interests” section isn’t really necessary; however, if there’s something you are particularly proud of and it’s short, then feel free to include it at the end of your CV. There is always the possibility that when you put “competitive running” on your CV that the person reading your CV is a marathoner and gives you an interview for that reason. However, you should exclude any activities that could be seen as overly political or offensive.

10. Be prepared with a versatile CV template
Sometimes it’s valuable to have more than one version of your CV. For example, if your background could be applicable to manager or individual contributor positions, you don’t want to scare someone off with a heavy manager CV for a contributor role or vice versa. However, you should not make yourself crazy writing a new CV for every position that comes up (an especially tempting habit if you are unemployed).

You should develop a CV template you feel comfortable with, and then make minor tweaks if necessary. Also, be sure to update your CV annually to avoid having to revamp it in a panic when you really need it.

Don’t forget to make sure the information in your CV marries up with your LinkedIn profile.

Remember, if in doubt, give the VIQU team a call on 0121 227 8200. We’re here to help you get your CV on point.