Before you write your CV

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Part of our range of guidance and support for fundraisers who are currently unemployed or in need of redundancy support.

There have been hundreds of articles, written by careers advisers, journalists, recruiters, psychologists and other ‘experts’, about the rules for creating the perfect CV.

Many of these are things you should consider before you even start to write your CV. There are four points that come up over and over again. 

1. Remember the purpose of a CV

Your CV exists to progress you to interview. You should think of it as a sales pitch with you as the product. It should display your achievements and skills and convey your drive and determination. It should not be your life story. So highlight your strengths and use positive language.

2. Be aware of what a hiring manager will do with the CV

Most will skim read the CV for 30 seconds. It will then go into a ‘no’ pile, a ‘borderline’ pile or a ‘yes’ pile. Assuming it’s not in the ‘no’ pile, the CV will then be read thoroughly. So your CV has to be instantly appealing (i.e. relevant and easy to read) to get through the ’30-second’ test and compelling enough when read in depth to get you to interview. Be careful not to write things in your CV that you aren’t prepared to talk about in the interview.

3. Be aware of what an interviewer will do with the CV

They will try to find out who the person is behind the CV, asking questions about your skills and experience to date, such as: What opportunities have come your way? Did you take advantage of them? What problems have you faced? How did you overcome them or how did you fail to do so?

4. Know exactly what the hiring manager wants

Be specific. Which skills is the hiring manager looking for and how well does your experience match those requirements? Who else could apply and why do you stand out? They are looking for the person who can solve a problem and fit their team. So use the same language as them, show you understand the issues they face and demonstrate that you have the skills to address those issues.

Your CV presents the first opportunity to truly impress, so make sure it's up to date, easy to read and paints an accurate picture of your most relevant skills and experience. Get this right, and you'll immediately increase your chances of making it to the interview stage.

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