The best CV

Candidato saluda a la persona de Recursos Humanos.

Remember childhood. All dressed up by our mothers, mornings of perfect braids or hair full of gel, patent leather shoes and the smell of cologne. And a phrase, common for all major events: “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression”. It’s a big mystery. Maybe it’s experience or an instinct that develops and grants them super powers, such as finding whatever you were looking for in that place where you had checked ten times. I don’t know what it is. But they have it.

There are numerous studies that show that the first impression is the most important. Psychologists from the universities of Princeton (USA) and Glasgow (Scotland) have proven that even a simple ‘hello’ is enough to draw conclusions about personalities. The brain is designed to draw quick conclusions; something almost instinctive that helps us detect danger. With little information and relying on previous experiences, we can decide whether a person is nice or dangerous — if it reminds us of someone we like or someone we hate.

Being aware of this and knowing that a CV is our presentation card in a company —and, most likely, the first impression we make—, there was no way we would miss the workshops on CVs for Impact. We’ve taken notes on the best advice to create the perfect CV and we’re sharing it with you!

1. Make It Easy on Them — How It Looks

You must bear in mind that the people in charge of receiving your CV get many other CVs during the selection process. The first stage of selection must be carried out very quickly if they want to see all the CVs, so they won’t dedicate more than 2 or 3 seconds to each one. What they’re looking for must be very visible in your CV. Languages, education and training, and the last two professional experiences will be the first thing they’ll be looking for during this first stage of the selection process. It’s crucial that they are able to read these 3 items as fast as possible.

It’s becoming increasingly common for this first filter to be carried out by ATS systems — a follow-up system for candidates that works with AI. If you want to make sure that no robot discards your CV, the best you can do is to use keywords. Find the most important keywords on the job offer and add them in your CV exactly as they appear in the offer. But make sure they make sense in your sentences. Bear in mind that AI doesn’t detect similar words very well. So, if in the job offer, one of the key words is ‘employment consultant’, don’t write ‘labour adviser’ or any other synonym if you don’t want the machine to ignore your CV.

As for the extension, remember that “brevity is the soul of wit”. CVs must be brief and never more than 2 pages long. As for experiences that are shorter than one year, one will do. You’re under trial and the people in charge of going through your professional experience are judging everything; even your ability to be concise. Don’t worry if not everything you want to write fits the page; you can always use links to documents with the rest of the information. Use a clear language and no embellishment. You must be able to tell them what you do and where you want to go in as little as 2 phrases.

Lastly, remember how your patent leather shoes used to shine or how beautiful you looked with your braids? How it looks is also important. So make your CV visually attractive.

2. Don’ts — Common Mistakes

  1. Don’t lie. This will make you get to the job interview all nervous about being caught. And trust me — they will catch you. Interviewers are experienced and will very quickly find out if you lie. It’s not necessary to tell them everything, but it’s very important you don’t lie.
  2. Don’t write Curriculum Vitae in your Curriculum Vitae. You need space. But it’s not even that. You’re sending your personal and professional information to a selection process. I’m pretty sure they will know it’s a CV without you having to tell them.
  3. Don’t include the unemployment months. It’s not necessary to make it evident, interviewers and the HR staff will see the spaces between your working stages by themselves.
  4. Don’t use hard technical words. Many times, the first ones to see your CV and carry out the first part of the selection process are HR staff and there’s no reason to think they will understand if you use jargon or acronyms.
  5. Don’t put information that hasn’t been requested. If you want to add references, do it through a link or mention that employment references are available. Also, don’t include information regarding remuneration. They will ask about it when the time comes.

3. Introduce the Person — Personal Information

Let’s start with the first thing they will see in your CV: Your picture. Your picture will help them recognise your profile with just one glance after an interview and quickly link it to the impression you made. If you can take a picture in which you look as handsome as David Beckham, please do. For the rest of us, simple mortals, there are some good tips on how to make it look better, or at least not worse. The most important thing is to use a professional format and use a neutral background. We recommend close-ups or medium shots. Try to look natural, like in your day to day — it may be shocking to see someone that doesn’t look like the picture when they meet you for the interview.

Bear in mind that there are different practices in different countries and in different companies. So don’t forget to do your research before adding your picture. For example, in the UK, the USA or Ireland, antidiscrimination laws forbid selection processes to accept pictures.

Regarding your home address, don’t include the precise address. If the distance may be a problem, they will usually ask or demand it, but sometimes that’s not the case. Some companies don’t want employees that live far away because they think they will get tired of having to commute for an hour every day. So, mostly in big cities, just put the name of the city.

Age or the year of birth, depending on the position we’re applying for or the country’s culture, may suppose a problem. So, if you think this could happen with the position you’re applying for, don’t mention it because it will be the first thing they’ll see.

Social networks must be included if you share content from the sector you’re addressing. Some social networks like LinkedIn are a must. Remember that your CV can’t be shared due to data protection laws, but if your profile is online, then there’s no problem. When talking about recommendations or strengthening your application with former bosses and other contacts, LinkedIn is the only option for your application to get where it needs to get.

4. Introduce the Worker — Professional Profile

Study the requirements for the position and try to add skills to your CV that are relevant for them. For example, for an HR profile, empathy, or for a finance profile, analytical skills. If you have doubts about the skills you have, you can use the competencies dictionaries. Just type ‘competencies dictionary’ in Google. Three or four will do.

You can rate your skills from 1 to 4. The first degree is for junior profiles and the last one for experienced professionals.

5. What You’ve Learned — Education & Training

Include your academic background in a chronological order, starting from the latest thing you’ve studied. It’s not necessary to mention the months in which you started and finished, but do mention the years.

The same goes for complementary education. Don’t make the mistake of mentioning courses just to fill up space. Just put information that is relevant for the position you are applying for.

6. What You’ve Done — Work Experience

Follow the same order as for the academic background section. It’s very important for you to know that they will be paying the most attention to the last 2 or 3 work experiences in order to see if you fit the position, so elaborate on these. Mention the functions that you carried out in each of them. Use bullet points for these to make it easier to read. Place the most important things first and keep the complementary elements for last. Here you can also mention achievements. For example, KPIs improvement in %, of sales, of partners or, if you’ve had bigger responsibilities, budget control of x millions, team management of x amount of people. Bear in mind that, if you’re a junior profile, no one will demand these. So don’t worry.

Remember that internships must be mentioned in this section. While it’s true that it took place during an educational period and it was a complement to your undergraduate or master’s degree, it’s still work experience. If you’re an already experienced profile, it’s better not to mention this period as an internship and just mention the area in which you worked.

It’s common to move through different positions inside the same company. The best you can do in order to mention these movements is to follow LinkedIn’s format. Put the name of the company in the header and expand inside that section the different positions you’ve had in a chronological order.

7. The Essentials — Languages and Computer Competencies

Save a space for each one of these and place them separately.

I’m sure you’ve seen many CVs that use B2 or C1 to refer to the language level. The truth is that this is the best way to let your future company know your level of knowledge of the language. Regardless of whether you have a degree or not, it’s alright to use that nomenclature. Anyways, if you have any extra information that can help them see that you gained that level, you must mention it. For example, a certification from a school or having lived abroad in a country where they speak the language.

In the computer competencies section, it’s important to highlight the specialisations on the programmes you know how to use. Once again, pay attention to the position’s requirements in order to select those that are more useful and relevant. Don’t mention every single programme you know unless they’re all relevant.

Use these tips in your CV and make a great first impression in just 3 seconds. Remember that you’ll never have a second chance to make a good first impression.

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Fear Away

What if I can’t find a job? This is a very common question for many people. First thing you should know is that this thought is not sent by reason, but by fear.

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