The endless cycle of CVs is – without a doubt – the most frustrating part of the employment process. This is especially true in the modern age where many companies have their own computerised forms to fill out. You can get dizzy from copying and pasting the same information over and over!
Getting your CV right can help cut down how long you spend looking for a job. Create a killer CV in the first instance, and maybe you can break out of that cycle just a little sooner.
In this short guide, we’re going to explain exactly how you can make your CV stand out among the dozens of others an employer will undoubtedly receive; how to create a killer CV for further education jobs.
Open with a Personal Statement
Not everything comes down to a box-ticking exercise in the world of employment. A personal statement should be the first thing to appear on your CV and it should give some insight into who you are – beyond the qualifications you’ve received.
This is your chance to show your passion for what you do. Describe the path you’re on and where you want to go next. Create a specific rapport with the company you’re applying to.
You can tailor your personal statement to each company you apply for. The more individualised, the better. It creates the appearance that out of all the places you could have applied, you’ve chosen this company. You want to work for them.
You can create a personal rapport with the company by:
- Naming the company in the opening statement
- Using the job title as it appears on the job advert
- Including a comment about why you want to work for that company
- Citing what you would bring to the organisation.
This shows you’ve done your research and considered why you’d be a good fit for the company you’ve selected. It shows you’re not an applicant who’s just applying for every vacancy they see (even though that may well be the case!).
Give your qualifications from most recent to oldest
Of course, your employer will need to know you’re qualified to take on the role. Include your qualifications early on in your CV, starting with the most recent qualification you’ve received (likely a CAVA course or IQA Qualification).
You don’t need to go into great detail about your qualifications unless there is something specific or out of the ordinary that you want to highlight. Remember, your CV is a summary of your application. There will be time to give detail if and when you’re called to interview.
Instead, simply list your qualifications and the result achieved in reverse chronological order. Include the dates of study beside each item.
Don’t include any CPD or short courses here – there will be another section for that.
List your roles
Once again, you’ll want to list these in reverse chronological order (from most recent to oldest). Include your accurate job title and the time period you worked there. You should also include the name of the company, and their contact details or address. This instantly removes any doubt that any cheeky fictions have been included – it happens!
Give more detail of your duties for the most relevant roles you’ve held. If you’re an NVQ Assessor or Tutor, for example, your experience in your vocational field will be most applicable to the new job you’re applying for.
Add relevant detail
Explain for each position what your role entailed and some of your key achievements while working in the position. This is also a chance to say how much you enjoyed the position or love the industry. After all, you want to come across as passionate to your future employer.
Focus on the positives
Never mention any negatives. Don’t say you left a previous position because you hated another member of staff, for example. As awful as Randy the sexist builder might have been, your CV is not the place to vent! Instead, focus on what you enjoyed and where you excelled.
Focus on what’s most relevant
You don’t need to go into the same level of detail about your newspaper round at the age of 14 as your fourteen years as a plasterer. If you’re going to be a tutor or assessor for plastering NVQs, for example, then it’s evident which one the employer will want to hear about.
There is an unspoken cut-off point for what to advertise. You don’t want there to be long employment gaps in your work history, so include all positions. But, equally, there are some positions where the job title, company and dates are enough info – especially if they’re completely irrelevant to the current position you’re applying for.
Additional training and achievements
This section is where you can go into detail about any extra training you’ve done to upskill in previous roles or prepare for your new one. Include all your CPD training, etc., here.
In this section, you should also include any other activities or achievements that relate to the job you’re applying for. This might include things like workshops, volunteer work, work experience, or competitions.
Remember, these don’t necessarily have to be overly academic. Some things you wouldn’t think of can be really relevant. For example, if you’re a Scouts Leader for your son’s group – that shows you enjoy working with young people.
Make it easier for the employer to make connections by adding a line about how these additional training or achievements will make you better in the role you’re applying for.
“I’ve been volunteering as a Scout Leader for three years. This has given me experience in a leadership/teaching position. I’ve enjoyed passing on skills to the boys in my troupe and have built confidence in delivering lessons.”
Yes – you’ve got to include them! Most employers will ask for two references, and often will request that one is from your most recent employer.
This can be a bit tricky if we’ve left a previous job on a bad note – even if through no fault of our own.
However, remember it doesn’t have to be the big boss as your reference. Any relevant person in a position senior to your own can be used.
Maybe if your last boss was a pain in the backside (not that annoying bosses ever happen…), you could use a member of the HR department as your reference. Similarly, any places where you’ve volunteered and academic references can also be included here.
A reference should include the name of the person, their role and relation to your position, and contact details.
It’s good practice to let your references know in advance that you’ve included them on your application. Speaking to your references beforehand also gives them a little foresight, so they can prepare to give you a glowing review.
Keep it short
As a rule of thumb, CVs should be no longer than two A4 pages. If yours is much longer than this, then you’re probably including lots of information that isn’t relevant to the role you’re applying for. Cut parts that are ancient history or any long explanations of things your employer should understand. Remember, your interview is the chance to go into real detail. Your CV is to show you’re a good fit on paper.
Make it look professional
Font size should be no smaller than size 11, and you should choose a ‘sensible’ font. If you pick Comic Sans, you’re dead in the water. (Honestly, do not use Comic Sans – you heathens.) Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri are all safe bets.
Clipart and Wordart are also banned. This is not an art project! Less is definitely more when it comes to formatting your CV.
Focus on clarity
Make sure each section of your CV has a clear heading. This makes it easy for the company you’re applying for to easily scan the document and check you tick the right boxes before they go in for a more in-depth read.
Remember, employers will receive dozens upon dozens of applications for every single role. And while this might seem a scary prospect, much of your ‘competition’ will end up straight in the bin. There are a huge number of jobseekers who apply for everything, even if they’re completely unqualified and have no relevant work history.
By showcasing your suitability for the role, you’ll easily survive the first sweep. Headings help!
Include a cover letter
Your cover letter is basically an extended personal statement. It clearly states the role you’re applying for, your suitability for the position, and why you want the job. Many employers use the cover letter as the very first part of the screening process.
Cover letters take time and they have to be personalised for each job. Having a great cover letter is a good indication to a prospective employer that you care. If you’ve taken the time to write something decent and individualised, it shows you really want the job.
For your cover letter:
- Name the company and the job title, e.g. ‘Please accept my application for the role of NVQ Assessor at Hawkins College’.
- Tick the boxes – one of the best ways to do this is to visit the job advert and repeat it back in your cover letter with a brief line about how you hit the mark. If the job advert says they need three years’ experience and a CAVA qualification, then your cover letter should definitely include the fact you have three years’ experience and a CAVA qualification. Go through the most important requirements and use these as a cover letter checklist.
- Keep it brief and professional – you don’t need to give a sob story or be overly drippy in your cover letter. Take a professional stance: you’re qualified and you’re ready for this role.
- Include your contact details – name, address, email, and phone number. Check, double check, and triple check these details – or you may miss out on interview.
Check everything for accuracy – not just in spelling and grammar, but in facts, too. Double check the employment dates you’ve listed, the contact details of your references, and which results you received on qualifications. Everything needs to be factually correct, spelled right, and flow well.
It’s a good idea to let a second pair of eyes take a look at your CV before you start sending it out to make sure there are no glaring oversights.
Personalise every application
This is really time-consuming, but it makes you stand out. For employers, it’s obvious when someone is applying to every single job in a ten-mile radius. By adjusting your cover letter and CV for each individual company you apply to, you come across as more conscientious and eager than your competition.
And, in the end, only getting a job will free you from the endless CV cycle….
We can’t get away from CVs. Unfortunately, they’re part of the job process! However, by following the tips in this guide, you can make sure you’re standing out in the right way.
And, if you’d like to give your CV a little extra boost with some additional training from Brooks and Kirk, then get in touch today.