CV Writing: Tips & What to Avoid

It’s nearly that time of year when graduate and internship applications start popping up. Let’s be real, you’d rather be updating your skincare routine than your CV and honestly, no one blames you. But it’s one of those things that sooner or later you’re going to have to face. When starting to put together your CV I’m sure you’ve Googled ‘CV templates’ or ‘CV examples’ and gotten an avalanche of websites all claiming to be the best. And then what? What was supposed make this whole process easier has somehow totally backfired by overwhelming you will endless possibilities. In this blog, I’m going to try to ease off some of that pressure by narrowing down what you should be prioritizing when writing your CV. 
We can start off with the golden rule of CV writing (don’t panic if you don’t know it, that’s what this blog is for!): do not use the same CV for every job application. Every employer is going to be unique, require tailored skills and look for different qualities in an applicant. You’re going to need to mold your CV to fit each one. To make that fact seem slightly less painful, try to think of it as highlighting your strengths across each individual CV to meet the desires of that company. You’re an educated and experienced adult and over your University career you have developed a very particular set of skills (cue Liam Neeson). You won’t be able to go into detail about everything you’re good at. Have a look around the website of the company you’re applying for, try to get a feel for what they’re looking for in a candidate. Sure, they’ll list out the qualification’s they’re looking for, but what else do they want to see? For example, some companies, like Aurecon, take volunteer work into consideration. If you have that experience, great show it off. Not only will it put you at the top of the pile, but it will also show an employer that you took the time to read what they’re about. 
It might sound obvious but don’t add ‘fluff’ into your CV. If you babysat your cousin’s-friend’s-baby, that’s cool but don’t put it in. Unless you have skills or experience that you can directly relate to the job you’re applying for, it’s best to keep it out. You might be looking at your CV and think “Besides my degree, I have no professional experience”. Now, take a look out your window. Has the world ended? No, it hasn’t because having a CV that is looking a little empty isn’t the end of the world. Yes, having relevant work experience is a plus, but if you’re just finishing uni and all you’ve got is your degree and a glass you’ve stolen from your favorite bar, you don’t have to panic. During your time at university, you will still have developed a skill set that you can boast about. Don’t just add random things about yourself to try and bulk it out. Over time, that Work Experience section will grow, as will you and you’ll be able to brag more about yourself.
NxtStep’s own, Poncho, has years of recruiting experience behind him and has this to say about CV’s:  Help the recruiter by making your CV easy to read. Structure and format are important. 
Most of you have heard the word ‘flow’ a lot during your time at uni. You should apply the same thing when creating your CV. Everything should be clearly laid out and appropriately placed in sections, like qualifications, relevant skills, employment history. Make sure the recruiter doesn’t have to hunt around your CV for information. You might be exhausted by the whole process of applying for jobs, but you aren’t alone. Recruiters must read and sift through countless CVs. If your CV isn’t structured and organized in a way that clearly sets out who you are and what you can do, then the recruiter might not take you into consideration. You can have all the skills and qualifications they’re looking for, but if it isn’t obvious in the way you’ve structured your CV, then you might not be successful. Have a good think of how you want to communicate your strengths in a way that will flow nicely for the recruiter. 
This whole process of writing a CV and a cover letter might seem a little…old fashioned, and maybe even that makes it seem pointless. But instead of CV’s becoming a thing of the past, they’re evolving to be more closely aligned with what the new generation of employee’s consider to be important. Using graphics or making CV’s more visually appealing is not only a fun way to grab the attention of a recruiter, but can also make this process, dare I say, fun! Even if you aren’t the most tech savvy person, websites like Canva make creating visual content easy as. 
If you want to know more about getting creative with CV’s, check out this Linkedin article 
 Even if you’re not applying for job just yet, it’s good to keep these tips in mind when writing a CV and start thinking about how you’re going to structure and present yours. If you’re at the stage where you’re getting ready to apply, then you’ll already have gathered a good amount skills that you can present in a way that clearly demonstrates who you are as a person and what skills you can bring to the table. And if you want to, make it colorful, make it pop out. Work it!

Written by Erica Shepard, Auckland