First Impressions Count: Preparing Your CV

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Whether you are a candidate seeking Oil & Gas positions, experiencing a severe recession or focussing on Renewable Energy jobs in a growing market place, having a perfectly presented CV with great content can make all the difference.

It is impossible to underestimate how important it is to have a good CV. First impressions count, whether that is a recruiter of an Executive Search firm or the HR department viewing it directly. The first impression a potential employer will have of you, is how you sell yourself in your CV.

You will only have one opportunity to capture an employer’s attention, or, like a lot of candidates at the moment, you will be rejected without second thought. At Walter Hewitt we will look beyond a poorly formatted CV, taking the time to understand your core competences and work to create the best possible document. Any good recruiter will be able to reformat your CV into a more comprehendible structure, but most out there will not work to improve the content.

CV Writing Guidelines

A CV can be divided into two subjects, the structure and the content. Both parts are essential to creating a good document and one without the other will not help you secure an interview.

Structure

Regardless of your level of experience following a basic structure will enable you to list all your personal attributes and competences. Although the structure and order will be considered largely subjective, we believe the order below will enable you write the content that is most sort after by recruiters and employers:

  • Education: Most senior level jobs require a degree or further education/qualifications. Listing this first checks off this requirement in the recruiter’s mind.
  • Personal Summary: Often overlooked, this is the perfect section to sell your experience. If you are applying for a specific job, use the Job Descriptions requirements to draw out your sought after experience.
  • Professional Experience: List your experience chronologically from most recent at the top, to oldest at the bottom. Make it clear what your responsibilities and achievements were and for technical roles highlight the project and conditions you worked under. Focus on what you have achieved in the job, not what your job was.
  • Technical Skills & Certificates: Whether you have received accredited industry training or would like to highlight your proficiency in technical software this is a good opportunity to do that.
  • Conferences/Papers/Awards (Optional): Within the energy industry it is particularly common for candidates to be active within the community writing papers and presenting at industry conferences. This is often seen as a positive for the company and a welcome addition to a CV. In addition to this you may have won awards for projects with an industry body or within their company. It can be a great selling point that is often overlooked. But demonstrating above average efforts or results will make a material difference.
  • Personal Details: A good opportunity to list your nationality and eligibility to work in the location you are applying for. It is also worth noting your family situation and any uncontentious hobbies you may have. If you have not listed your contact details at the top of your CV this would also be an appropriate place.

Content

Content is highly subjective and whilst some will prefer free flowing descriptive paragraphs, others will chose regimented bullet points. In our experience Client’s skim read a document looking for key terms and will seldom read into long paragraphs. Having content that jumps off the page, selling your key competences in the summary section and then reinforcing them throughout your professional experience is the best approach.

Key Points

  • Write content that is reflective of the job description, taking care to include information that the client has put as a requirement.
  • Do not copy a job description verbatim. This will draw suspicion from the recruiter and will also show a lack of creativity on your part. Use your own words and draw on personal experience.
  • Proof read and grammar check everything you have written. Where possible ask a friend or partner to read over your content. Don’t rely on your word processor to check every spelling.
  • Avoid cliché’s and where possible give examples of your team working ability or attention to detail as required.
  • Do not fabricate your experience or credentials. Clients will often reference your experience and check your education certificates. You would do better omitting experience and giving examples of quickly learning new techniques or softwares.
  • Avoid statements about your perfect job that can alienate you from other positions. Writing that you are looking for a management job when you are applying for a hands-on technical position will diminish your chances.
  • Do not include opinions that could be considered controversial. Avoid anything that can cause conflict or divide opinion. Whilst your opinion may be the majority view, you never know what a prospective Employer will think about the subject.

Whilst a good CV alone will not secure your dream job, a bad CV will definitely hinder your chances. If you are going to spend hours applying for jobs make sure spend a proportionate amount of time preparing and proof reading your CV.

If you would like to discuss your current CV and how you can improve it to better reflect your experience, please do get in touch with me directly by emailing jason.blay@walterhewitt.com.

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