A CV gives you the chance to present your personal details in the best possible light. You can sell your skills, abilities and qualifications to a large number of employers, as it is the most flexible and convenient way to make applications.
That being said, many large companies use their own application forms and will not accept CVs. They feel if they can design their own application form, it will bring out your essential qualities and weaknesses; in a CV you can avoid your weaker points. What’s more, because you have to spend quite a lot of time to fill out an application form, this, in itself, is an example of your commitment. Just sending the same generic CV to a variety of prospective employers doesn’t show this.
Bearing this in mind, when should you use a CV? The first reason is, of course, when the employer asks you for one! Next, when the employer doesn’t specify the format and simply states to whom the application should be made. Finally if you are sending out applications that are purely speculative; the employer hasn’t actually advertised a vacancy but you hope there may be one.
Remember the person who has to read your CV. He or she may have a hundred from which to narrow down a handful of interviewees. This is a tedious task and if your CV is unclear, badly laid out and full irrelevant information he or she will move on to the next one. Use short paragraphs, bullet points and a clear, logical layout to make it easy to read. There is no single best way to write a CV, as it is your document, you can structure as you wish. In fact, for creative jobs you could try to be innovative, but remain within a basic framework that obeys the following rules. A CV should be informative, concise and carefully laid out, accurate in grammar and spelling and, finally, targeted on the job you are applying for.
Equally important is your covering letter; it is the first page and will most likely be read before your CV. It demonstrates your writing style and makes a specific statement to the employer that your generic CV lacks. It will point out the information in your CV that matches you for the job and gives you the chance to make a statement about yourself and your suitability. The CV is a rigid structure and the cover letter should give a personal touch. You might be tempted to think that the most personal letter would be handwritten but in fact, unless asked, it is better to use a word processor. These days, increasingly, recruiters ask applicants to email their details, so handwritten cover letters are a thing of the past. However there are some companies that many want a sample of your handwriting; it is possible they employ graphology, which is the study and analysis of handwriting. They should tell you if they are going to analyse your letter for clues into your personality and abilities, so don’t worry.
Commitment (noun) Sincerity, seriousness
Generic (adj) Applying to all the members of a group
Format (noun) Layout, general appearance
Speculative (adj) Showing curiosity, questioning
Narrow down (verb) Define clearly
Interviewees (noun) People who are to be interviewed
Tedious (adj) Boring
Bullet points (noun) Items printed in a list, after a centred dot
Innovative (adj) Showing new methods or ideas
Rigid (adj) Not flexible, stiff
Handwritten (adj) Written by hand, not typed or printed
Graphology (noun) Study of handwriting as a means of analyzing character
Analysis (noun) Investigation