11 Tips for a Winning CV

Will your CV help you get you an interview for that dream job?

We see a lot of great candidates with interesting and relevant skills and experiences but unfortunately many have poor or even terrible CV’s.

Maybe they’re thinking that the CV doesn’t matter too much because when they get the interview they’ll be able to prove themselves to the interviewer.

Unfortunately, most don’t even get the chance to interview.

The CV is the very first impression you give to the interviewer who will probably take 5-6 seconds to scan your CV for key words that they’re looking for.

If your CV is poorly formatted, hard to read and confusing then they won’t see those key words and you’ll be eliminated before you even got a chance to interview.

Here’s some tips to follow to ensure you give yourself the best chance.

#1 Don’t lie!

If you’re caught lying on your CV you’ll be fired as soon as it is discovered.  And because the international education industry is so small you could find it hard to get another job.

Tip: Don’t lie!

#2 Get the length right

The interviewer will spend 5-6 seconds scanning your CV.  If it is 5-6 pages long then that’ll be 1 second per page.  But if your CV is one or 2 pages then you’ll nearly double their scanning time to 2-3 seconds per page and that’s more chance for them to see your key words and take an interest in you.

Tip: Keep your CV to 1-2 pages.

#3 Make sure the timeline makes sense

The interviewer will look at the dates you state for each role – if there are gaps or inconsistencies they’ll doubt that your CV is truthful (see Don’t lie).  If you took leave for personal reasons or for study, make it clear that that is what you were doing.  You don’t need to say what the personal reasons were.

Tip: Make the timeline clear and logical.

#4 Format well for ease of reading

Good formatting make it easy for the interviewer to pick up your key words in those crucial 5-6 seconds.  So for English CVs that means good spacing, logical headings and dot points.  There’s a million ‘how to write a CV’ websites on the Internet but not all of them arevgood.  Contact us if you’d like a sample of what we think works well in international education.

Tip: Make it easy for the interviewer to read your CV with great formatting.

#5 Make sure your CV and your LinkedIn profile match

If you’re on LinkedIn the interviewer may well do a follow up to check your page there – and if what it says is different from your CV then it will cause them to doubt your CV (see Don’t lie).  It will be easier for the interviewer just to choose other candidates and reject you than try to find out the true story.

Tip: Make your CV and LinkedIn profile consistent (the LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to be as detailed)

$6 Choose the right type of content

A lot of CVs we see are conversational, even rambling, in content.  We like dot points that for each person tell us things like:

  • Who you reported to (the position not the person)
  • The type of work that you did (e.g. business development)
  • The main things you were responsible for (your “Key Deliverables”)
  • How you achieved them (e.g. market analysis, stake holder management)
  • What you achieved (What you delivered)

You don’t need to add why you left or what your salary was for each position.

Tip: Catch the interviewer’s eye with content that is relevant to their business.

#7 Key words matter

Interviewers won’t read your CV, they’ll scan for key words.  So if they’re looking for a manager of people then ‘team leader’ are words they’re looking for.

Tip: Think about key words that are relevant and meaningful and add them.

#8 Customise your CV

Since key words matter and you’ve probably got a lot of different skills and experiences (too many to fit into 1-2 pages), then it makes sense to customise your CV for each job you’re applying for.

Tip: Ensure your CV is relevant to the job with key words from your background that match.

#9 You can mention targets but do it smart

It’s great to show that you had targets in previous roles and achieved or exceeded them but we suggest not to put the actual numbers because the interviewer won’t know the business context that you worked in.  So if your target was to recruit 20 students and you achieved 25 that might not look impressive to an employer that is expecting you to recruit 100 students.

Tip: If you beat your target say you exceeded it by 25% not 5.

#10 Don’t look like a porn star

You don’t have to add a picture but it’s fine if you want to.  But if you do, make sure the photo is professional and business like.  Don’t add one that makes you look like a porn star (yes we’ve seen that) or your passport photo (it makes you look like a prison inmate).

Tip: Choose a professional but warm and business like photo (and make it is the same as on your LinkedIn profile).

#11 Age, height and weight

Don’t put your height or weight.  No one in international education cares.  Your date of birth is ok.

Tip: We only care about your skills and experience.

Got more tips?  We’d love to hear them so we can share with other candidates.

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