That all important first half of your CV

The most important part of your CV is the first half – the reason is simple, it’s the first thing hiring managers and recruiters read and it can either whet their appetite to read more or switch them off and make them move on to the next CV without giving you any serious consideration. So what is the winning formula to generating the right kind of attention and will it make the reader actually turn the page with interest?

Let’s take it from the top:

  • Headings – whaaaaat?? Indeed what! There is absolutely no need to give your CV a heading, it is very obvious that the document is a Curriculum Vitae or Resume so don’t waste precious space. Also bear in mind software for candidate databases tend to take the first line of the CV and process it as the name of the candidate. You do not want to be listed as Curriculum Vitae instead of Bernard Thomson right!
  • Name – your name should always be at the top of the CV and ideally in a larger font than the rest of the document. For the above database reason, but also because it needs to be in a place which is easily seen by the reader, there is nothing worse for a recruiter than having to search for a name on a CV trust me! Some also choose to add the name alongside page numbers in the footer – this works well for when the document is printed out helping to ensure none of the pages are lost. However a lot of offices do tend to be paperless these days so a footer isn’t a crucial requirement.
  • Address – again this should be towards the top of the CV and ideally under your name. If applying to recruiters and posting your CV online I recommend you don’t include your entire address, in fact I would suggest maybe stating a City or County. However if you are applying direct to an employer then it is better to include your full address so they can see how far you are from the role location. Some employers will contact you by post (yes this practice is still very common for larger organisations); also offers will generally be posted out. Not getting ahead of ourselves here, but it pays to keep HR on side; they do not want to be chasing up such details.
  • Phone number – your mobile number will suffice, this is ideal as you can screen calls and take them in appropriate areas rather than in front of the current boss. Don’t give work numbers and if you work in security cleared areas which do not allow mobile devices – make sure you tell the hiring manager / recruitment consultant this in your application and provide an appropriate method for them to contact you.
  • Email address – often recruiters will email you to arrange a time to talk and employers may wish to send you further information / testing etc via this method. Make sure you have a sensible email address and it is spent correctly. I have lost count of the amount of emails I receive on behalf of another Nicola with a dot missing from her email address!
  • Profile – who are you / what can you do (in a professional capacity)
  • Achievements – the all important evidence of where you have added value.
  • Career history – starting just about half way down the page, starting with most recent role first.

This takes us to half way down the CV – the crucial point! Do read through the above links to blog posts which drill down in to more detail and give examples etc.

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