Work and Business

Creating the perfect CV

Or should it be; create the perfect resume.

Most of you call it by that name. I just thought the title of this latest post seemed perfect. That’s the essence of it really; making things perfect. And in this case, it’s the resume (or CV). No matter who you are or what your circumstances, unemployed, self-employed or employed, it seems to be getting more and more difficult these days to get a foot in the door and seated at the desk in your chosen career or dream job.

Most girls have experience of this. Me too. And I don’t mind telling you that I have not landed my targeted career position either. Thankfully (and this is positive me speaking) I am getting closer to being able to sustain myself on a regular basis without having to worry whether I’m going to make my next rent payment on time. But this post is specifically aimed at those girls who are unemployed and still struggling to land a job, in some cases their first full-time occupation ever.

In a desperate effort to get at least one positive response to a job application, most girls (me included) are guilty of simply using a template of an original CV and copying and pasting it into the company’s website-based system as quickly as possible. The reasons for doing this are understandable. In an effort to send off as much resumes as possible you are moving at a frenetic pace. By the time the day has ended, you may have sent off at least ten resume packs and felt that you’ve accomplished something. Now you sit at your desk, waiting for that email to arrive, inviting you to your first interview. But, if you’ve had any response it is usually to let you know that your application was unsuccessful.

Most of you may have seen that it is rare that this happens. Now, it’s time take a deep breath, take heart and don’t give up. What I’m about to tell you next may surprise some of you. You already have a foot in the door. Most of you are making online job applications and if you’ve filled out your personal details correctly, you are already high in the system’s algorithmic rankings.

Why is this, you may be asking. For one thing, even if it’s your first job application, you have a better than average chance than the guys out there because you are a woman. World-wide, political imperatives and laws have been put in place to ensure that equality in the work place is achieved. Governments have set companies employment equity targets. And, yes, they want to see more girls being hired.

But in order to get a positive response you still need to learn one or two tricks that may just help. Now, I need to strongly advise that these tips, while they may help, are not guaranteed to work. While imperatives are universal each company has its own personality and specific set of criteria. If the job has been properly advertised, the criteria and job functions will have been clearly delineated. So, for example, if you are applying to become an online news writer but have had no professional or commercial experience, particularly when the job requires this, you don’t need to give up.

You may yet have unique skills that the company is looking for. Where experience is concerned, you could very well include news editing in the list of skills you have had experience in, even if it was your high school newspaper. Or you may feel that you have good writing skills which stand out from the rest (you have to believe this, it’s all about having confidence in what you believe you can do, even if your experience has been limited). Most job applications don’t ask for it, but you could create a sample portfolio of three short works (it has to be short because most reviewers won’t be making much time to read thoroughly) and highlight this at the top of your CV so that the receiver’s eye is immediately drawn to this.

Lacking in real life work experience, you may have excelled in college (straight A’s and distinctions). To compensate, you highlight your academic achievements at the top of your CV. Again, keep all of this as brief as possible. In the example that I’m using here, you are applying for a writing position, so you need to show your potential employer that you can actually write well. So, it is critically important that you edit your resume very carefully.

Most online writing emphasizes the use of keywords. The same will go for your online algorithmic application. Learn how to use keywords effectively and correctly. This task is not difficult. Online tutorials are available. When you are composing your online CV you can then emphasize and highlight job-specific skills which the system (and not the naked eye) will pick out.

Also research the company you are targeting. Research it thoroughly. Show your next manager how much you already know about his (or her business). Without being abrasive, you could even suggest a solution or two. Also be persuasive in your use of your written communication, use the active voice and steer clear away from speaking passively. Simply put, everything you say in your resume is indicative of a can-do attitude. There can be no ifs or buts’. If the reviewer sees that you are indecisive, she may also doubt your advertised credentials or abilities.

Another important point that needs to be made is this. Where these are given (and in most cases they are) follow the instructions on how to process and submit the application, what to include and how long the CV must be. In a desperate bid to get to the front of the queue many applicants overdo it, trying to fit in as much as possible to the point that their document becomes redundant.

Lastly, keep your resume short.

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