Over the past five years of working in both internal and external recruitment, helping people with new career opportunities. I have seen my fair share of CVS – the 👍, the 👎, and the 🤯! 

As each new year begins, it seems that the last year’s CV ‘must haves’ turn into the ‘must nots’ and vice versa, making job hunting even harder. Not to mention, there are so many opinions of ‘right and wrong’ out there – how do you even know where to start? 

CVs – Let’s Break It Down: 

This article isn’t the be-all and end-all for writing a successful CV. The stock-standard aim of a CV is to highlight your experience, skill set, personality, and career aspirations; however, the key is relevance.The success of a CV is highly dependent on who your audience is, the type of profession, and the type of role you are applying for. 

1 – Experience – Understanding the Profession, Role, and Audience:

Job vacancies and their applications come in bulk – whether it is to a recruiter, recruitment team, or the CEO themselves – the fact of the matter is we don’t have the time to read about your first job as a 5-year-old at your lemonade stand (however cool that might be!). The golden rule for experience is to discuss your roles over the past five years. If you have been out of the industry, discuss your relevant previous experience

Channel your profession – if you are working in an experience-reliant industry, then make this the highlight of your CV. Keep it factual and concise, and highlight relevant examples as evidence. Connect your experience to the role you are applying for by researching the firm beforehand, identifying the areas of similarity, and then customising your experience to highlight this connection and relevance. Understand your audience – the bigger the firm, the more gatekeepers you must pass through to get to an interview. Keep your experience relevant, connect it to the firm’s values/aims, and bullet point/write a brief paragraph per job to keep the audience engaged and in a good mood! 

2 – Qualifications – Understanding the Profession, Role, and Audience:  

List them all – the qualification, the tertiary provider, the date of completion, and the country that it was attained in. This big tick-box needs to be confirmed before any progress can be made, so make this easy to identify. Nothing is more frustrating than receiving a great CV but having missing qualification information. Ultimately this will hold up not only the progression of your application but also cost clarification time for both parties, which could be the make or break of your application due to the time pressures of filling a role. Keep the process smooth and avoid interruptions – even if this means having to go back and edit your CV before you submit it. 

3 – Layout – Understanding the Profession, Role, and Audience:  

There are plenty of templates to help you format your CV. Sometimes you can fall into the trap of wanting to stand out – but remember the importance of standing out for the right reasons. You can create the most colourful, detailed, and wonderfully designed CV, but if you don’t tick the profession or the roles criteria, this won’t matter. If you tick all the criteria, you want to ensure your CV is channelling the organisation. If you are applying at a firm for a role where professionalism, articulation, and concise communication are the key – don’t unicorn-vomit over the CV. Keep your CV between 1-3 pages – remember this is a snapshot, so highlight the key areas and leave the rest to be discussed at an interview. 

Remember your audience – if we have to wear sunglasses just to read your 10-page CV and we haven’t had our morning coffee, you’re off to a bad start! 

4 – Personality – Understanding the Profession, Role, and Audience:  

There are plenty of ways to include your personality and personalise a CV without using all the coloured ink in the printer or writing an autobiography. One area of suggestion is to utilise the ‘career ambitions/hobbies and interest’ stock-standard section. 

We know you want to progress in your career and, one day, take over the world. We think it is cool that in your spare time you like to stand in grape buckets and make your own wine (…if you wanted to bring me a bottle or two to taste-test, I wouldn’t say no!) BUT it isn’t memorable. Tell us why you want this job/to work at this firm – what has grabbed your interest, what motivates you in this line of work, and what makes you tick

Once again, customise and channel this alongside the job/firm you are applying for. If you are applying for roles in Marlborough – chances are the people love their vineyards and wine. If it is Canterbury, chances are they’re rugby fans. And if it’s Wellington…well… maybe mention you enjoy kite-flying? In the end, people make a firm successful, a team, and a job enjoyable. Suppose the audience can sense your similar personality and work ethic through your CV. In that case, that is what can make you stand out beyond words. 

5 – The Debate – Photos and Cover Letters: 

This debate will forever go in circles and is completely up to you. In my opinion – and because I’m a sucker for a pros and cons list – I have listed the below to help you make your informed decision:

Photo Pros: Photo Cons: 
It puts a face to a name/information and helps personalise the CV Gender, culture, and ‘beauty standard’ prejudice can occur 
Sometimes who you know goes a long way – some people remember faces better than names Can take away the attention from what is important 
Cover Letter Pros: Cover Letter Cons: 
The CV is the facts and figures, whilst the cover letter can be the personality and ‘you’ piece Sometimes less is more – not all audiences will read a cover letter
It gives you a chance to add more Some consider them to be outdated and unnecessary 

So What Now? New career opportunities

Take this and every other ‘how to do a CV’ with a grain of salt. Collate the similarities and decide on the differences. Don’t overthink. Keep your information concise, factual, and informative. Channel and understand the firm you are applying to, the position you are applying for, and the prospective audience. Who will be reading your CV? Customise this to each reader. Take a moment to read your CV out loud. Spelling, grammar, and double-up mistakes deduct points from the audience’s perspective and take away from what is important. Utilise Grammarly, a fresh perspective, and take those extra few moments to update your CV – this could be your application’s make or break point. New year, new job, new challenge. How do you know when the time is right for a new challenge?

Get in touch for a confidential chat. We’ll help you better understand and be able to utilise the current market. Reach out to discuss how we can help you today or in the future! 

Jaz Locke | 03 260 5103 | jlocke@tylerwren.co.nz