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Top tips to make your CV stand out from the crowd

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Your CV has one thing to do – get you noticed by potential employers. It is the ‘door-opener’ and needs to demonstrate clearly why you are the right person for the job or the company in question.

 

This needs to be done in the most concise and targeted way possible and you need to test that it passes the seven second rule! On average if an employer doesn’t see what they want in seven seconds your chances of getting shortlisted or interview are slim to none! Get the basics right and they will read on.

Keep it to two pages

It doesn’t matter how much experience you have or how many courses you have done, only those that are relevant to the job should be included. This means that you will need to adapt your CV to different jobs.

Use a clear and simple layout

Fonts such as Times New Roman, Verdana, Tahoma, Arial, Calibri, Cambria, Georgia and Helvetica are best and use 12-point font size unless you are really tight on space and then reduce to 11.

Put your name in larger font at the top of the CV. There's no need to include the word CV or Curriculum Vitae, and include your contact details underneath – email, mobile number, address if you feel you want to, and LinkedIn profile details if you are on it.

Stick to the truth

While it is tempting to stretch it a little, if you get called to an interview or references are verified, there is every chance that you will get caught out.

Your CV should have the following sections – Opening summary/professional profile, Work Experience, Education and Training, Key sSkills and Expertise, Interests and Achievements which are only needed if you are a recent graduate or school leaver.

After the Opening Summary which can be done as a paragraph or bullet points, you need to lead with your strongest section. If you have extensive relevant experience and it has been a long time since you completed your education then you are primarily selling your experience on your CV. If you are student or recent graduate then you need to focus on how your education links to the job so give details of modules, projects and any key achievements linked to your qualification.

Employers like evidence and data so when completing the section on work experience include proof of what you have achieved in the workplace and rather than giving a list of tasks and responsibilities of your past jobs tell them what competency you have demonstrated. Use action verbs to explain what you do/did. Don’t forget to include voluntary work if relevant.

In relation to education; be selective. If it’s more than 15 years since you completed your Leaving Cert then you don’t really need to include it. While you may have lots of courses done over the years only include those which are relevant to the job you are applying for. You could also consider dividing them into two sections – ‘Education & Training’ and ‘Other Training’.

Information in sections on employment and education should be listed in reverse chronological order.
If you are concerned about a gap in your CV, say for example if you have taken a year out to travel or some years out to care for family then state the years so the employer can account for the time and give a simple and short explanation of the competencies you developed during it.

Keywords are essential

This is particularly the case if the CV is being read by a computer before it ever reaches the eyes of a human resource manager, a process known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
Mirror the exact words, language and terminology, that have been used in the job description. Make it clear that you have what they are looking for.

When it comes to key skills and expertise make sure to link them directly to the job, demonstrate what you are great at and be prepared to explain your skills in interview.

The section on ‘Hobbies & Interests’ always raises questions. If you have more than seven years’ experience it’s not really relevant. Never use the word ‘hobbies’, use ‘Interests and Achievements’ instead. Give a line about each one that is useful and dynamic.

Referees

Unless you are a recent graduate or starting out in your career, employers don’t need details of referees on your CV, only if requested to do so in the job advertisement, as they won’t contact them until after interview. Always remember to ask permission of those who have agreed to provide a reference for you to include their name and contact details on the CV.

Proofread the finished product several times! There is no greater turnoff for a potential employer than seeing spelling, grammar mistakes or misprints. Get a couple of family members or friends to check it and don’t rely on spellcheck!

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore & PRO of Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She can be contacted on careerfocusnow@gmail.com

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Develop skills and improve employability

By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors Traineeships are developed and delivered on an ongoing basis by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) nationwide and are open to potential participants of all ages and backgrounds including school leavers, mature learners and those in or seeking employment. Developed in partnership with industry representatives […]

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By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

Traineeships are developed and delivered on an ongoing basis by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) nationwide and are open to potential participants of all ages and backgrounds including school leavers, mature learners and those in or seeking employment.

Developed in partnership with industry representatives and employers, these programmes combine learning in the classroom with a minimum of 30 percent of learning on-the-job. The focus is on ‘learning on the go’ and developing perspectives that are in tune with the ever evolving world of work. They span across a range of industry sectors including business and retail, media, manufacturing, agriculture, horticulture and mariculture, care, construction, engineering, animal science, fashion and beauty, finance, ICT, hospitality, sports and leisure, and logistics.

At the core of the scheme is a strong collaboration with the ETBs in the provision of work-based learning opportunities on existing and new programmes. Traineeships lead to an award at Levels 4-6 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and are between six to 24 months in duration. Over 75 programmes are available nationwide – although not all of them will be available nationally at all times – and the content, award and duration may vary. They are designed for flexible delivery to include online, face-to-face and blended learning.

NEXT STEP

Second level or higher education students who are interested in participating in a Traineeship Programme should contact their local ETB, adult learners should contact the Adult Education Guidance Service through their local ETB, and jobseekers will be able to access information through their local Intreo Office or Local Employment Service. For those currently unemployed, a training allowance or income support may be available. You can check out the range of opportunities offered through Traineeships nationwide on www.fetchcourses.ie and more locally check out the www.kerrycollege.ie.

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant – For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Return to work courses

Answer: Springboard+ provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed (or were self-employed) and those looking to return to the workforce. Courses are offered in different areas including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), medical technologies, cybersecurity, sustainable energy and financial services. The courses range from certificate to master’s degree level – Levels 6 […]

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Answer: Springboard+ provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed (or were self-employed) and those looking to return to the workforce.

Courses are offered in different areas including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), medical technologies, cybersecurity, sustainable energy and financial services.

The courses range from certificate to master’s degree level – Levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). Most of the courses are part-time and last for one year or less, but there are some full-time courses.
You can access a free Springboard+ course, if you are getting a qualifying social welfare payment such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Jobseeker’s Benefit or the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). You can get a full list of qualifying payments for Springboard+ on citizensinformation.ie

If you are not getting a qualifying social welfare payment, you will have to meet the residency criteria for Springboard+.

You can also apply for a Springboard+ course if:

* You are a qualified adult of working age (under 66) on someone else’s social welfare payment
* You are signing for social insurance credits
* You are on an employment support scheme such as Community Employment (CE) or TUS

To apply for a Springboard+ course, you choose the course(s) you are interested in on springboardcourses.ie and apply online, following the instructions on the website. You can apply for up to 10 courses, but you can only take one course.

If you are getting a social welfare payment, you should notify your Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office and check what further steps (if any) you need to take.
If Springboard+ doesn’t meet your needs, there are several other ways to go back to education.
_______________________________________________________________________

During COVID-19, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

Tralee on Tel: Call 0761 07 7860, Monday – Friday (10am-4pm)
The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

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