Make the most of your CV

CVs are a subjective business. The temptation is to put in everything from your primary school swimming certificate onwards and make the layout really complex. But please take it from us -we know what looks good in a CV and will get you to the top of the interview list. Here are our top tips on putting your CV together

  1. Keep it to between two and four A4 pages - people simply won't read - or need - anymore than that. Too much detail is as bad (or worse) than too little and experience gained five years ago is of minor interest now, so keep it brief.
  2. Keep the format simple, clean and easy to read- pictures, fancy graphics and strange fonts are just confusing. Resist the urge to 'jazz up' your CV to make it stand out - it does just that for all the wrong reasons
  3. Avoid text boxes, tables and multiple columns –when viewed on another PC it will invariably display documents using different default tabs and margins, totally messing up your clever formatting and making the CV impossible to read.
  4. Use MS-Word (DOC/DOCX) although PDF avoids some of the problems above, most recruitment companies and job-boards use Word to store and index CVs and converting to DOC from PDF seriously messes up the layout.
  5. Give a skills and qualifications summary on the front page- it will catch the reader's attention straight away. Ignore what others say about not using technical terms or acronyms –if you’ve used HPLC, C++, Embedded PIC Processors, Pro E 3D-CAD, or Carbon Nanotubes etc we need to know!
  6. Write your CV in the first person - "I did this" - and in reverse chronological order - last job first - your current expertise and skills are the most relevant to a future employer
  7. Use spell check AND get someone else to proof read the CV. Mistakes here reflect badly and won’t say much for your quality control or attention to detail.
  8. Be Truthful! Exaggerating or just plain lying really won’t help and you’ll soon be found out when you are interviewed.
  9. Don’t leave unexplained gaps in your work or academic history –you’ll just get asked the question anyway.
  10. Send a copy to Vector!

Sharpen up your interview technique

A large part of doing well at interview is about preparation and simple presentation skills. If you take time to do this, you'll be relaxed and come across as a sensible human being and someone the interviewer would like to work with

  1. Do your homework - we'll send you details about the job you are going to be interviewed for. Read the job description and check out their website for good measure.
  2. Think of some intelligent questions to ask - not just the salary and holiday allowance! Think of something you’d like to know about the job and the company in advance of the interview
  3. Leave plenty of time to get to your interview, so you arrive relaxed and in control .
  4. Dress conservatively and smartly - it's better to be overdressed than under and you'll feel more confident
  5. Be friendly and polite, but don't be over familiar or casual with the interviewer, even if the company does have an informal environment
  6. Don't be over-critical of your current employer. If asked be objective and professional about your reasons for changing job - think about this in advance if you need to prepare an answer and keep it brief.
  7. Take some examples of previous work –if you have something you can show the interviewer (without breaking a previous employer’s confidentiality), take it along and show it to the interviewer. It will make an interesting talking point and help bring the discussions into an area you are familiar with.
  8. Remember that the smell of cigarettes, alcohol or pungent food can stay on your breath and clothes for a long time, so no binges the night before your interview!
  9. Do tell the interviewer if you are interested in the job on offer
  10. Smile occasionally- it's an interview not an inquisition. Remember the interviewer has asked to meet you and wants you to go away enthusiastic and wanting the job!