CV Writing as a WRITING Process to Get a Job

As a writer, I just felt I had to add this little module. You see, in writing a CV the keyword is WRITING. As a writer, I must tell you that NO first draft is perfect. Even if it is almost perfect, the keyword is ALMOST. 

When I was writing this guide, I had to revise it several times, coming back to each module over and over before I considered it worthy of publication. I did not want to give you, my readers, something of bad quality. You do not want to give the same to your potential employer.

Roald Dahl, a British children’s writer, once said that he went through forty (!) drafts before sending his books to the press. Children are the most critical readers and they sense bad quality really well. Employers and recruiters are the most critical readers after the children. 

This means only one thing: a CV must be revised, proofread and edited several times before it can be submitted. 

Here are some tips on writing and rewriting:

1. Write ALL YOU CAN about your education, skills, work experience, membership in societies, brilliant grades, volunteering and everything else you can think of.

2. Yes, it can be 10 pages long in the beginning.

3. Save and close the long document you have just created. Send it to yourself by email. Then back it up on a USB stick and on your phone. And, just in case, in a couple of other places. Save it as a Word document (.doc) and as a PDF, too. Why? Because Word documents may not look the same on two different computers.

If someone has different settings on their word processing software, your neatly formatted two-page CV might turn into a three-page document with a single line on the third page. I am not even talking about the difficulties caused by documents created on an Apple computer when you try to open them on a Microsoft computer. Therefore, when you send your CV and covering letter to the employer, it is better to send them both as PDF files.

4. Make a copy of the long document you have just created. Do not touch the original anymore. Then open the copy and cut it down. Cut it down to the essentials that correspond to the job title. Make it two pages long. Leave the minor details out – focus on important achievements. Focus on key skills.

How do you find out which details are minor? The main rule when writing a job description and person specification is that the most important responsibilities and the most needed skills are always at the top of the document. If you really have no space in your CV for the last one or two requirements mentioned in the job description and person specification, it is possible to leave them out.

However, some person specifications are constructed differently: they have essential criteria and desirable criteria for the candidates. You should definitely write how you match essential criteria in your CV, and some of the desirable ones can be left out, especially if it is hard for you to think of how your experience matches them.

There is a way to fit more on your CV, though. For example, if you have three bullet points of evidence that you have great teamwork skills and only one bullet point about time management, you can create a heading Teamwork and Organisational Skills, where you put all four bullet points. This way, it takes less space than creating a separate heading for one bullet point, and it also looks neater.

5. After you write your CV, if you have time, leave it for a day or two. Do not think about it. Then come back to it and re-read it. Amend it if needed. If you really have no time, leave it for two hours and then edit it again.

6. Read it out loud. If it sounds bad or awkward, try to rewrite it.

7. Give it to your friend to read. It’s always good to have an extra pair of eyes.

8. Remember when I told you to back up your document and make a copy? All the things that you have written can be used in the future, in other CVs and other application forms for other positions. Do not delete anything – you can always use it later.

9. Take it to your university’s careers service. They are professionals and can advise you even more about how to give your CV more power. It is always good to get another opinion.

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