The curriculum vitae
Your curriculum vitae is your business card, it is the summary of your background and your professional experience. It is the most important part of your application file, so it is very important to respect certain rules when designing it:
1. Prioritise the essentials; remove things that you have not completed and that could damage your image. Be clear, precise, and avoid redundant sentences which often turn out to be indigestible.
2. Have impeccable spelling! Have your document proofread by several people if possible and use correction tools to check each of your sentences. There is no margin for error, so the time taken ensuring the accuracy of the document is time well spent.
3. Choose a clean, yet modern layout. There's no point in overdoing it but giving your CV some care can make it stand out from the crowd and catch the recruiter's eye. It may also attest to your ability to use certain layout software, which can prove to be a real asset for certain positions.
4. Organise your CV backwards, so that what you did most recently appears first on your document. Remove anything that you haven't completed and try, as much as you can, not to leave any gaps. If this is not possible, remember to prepare your reasoning for when you are asked why you haven't worked between certain dates. Anyone can have periods without working during their professional career, but you have to be ready to justify it to recruiters.
The content of your CV
To be comprehensive, your CV must contain the following elements:
1. A section containing your personal information: Surname, first name, address, date of birth, contact details, e-mail... etc.
2. A “professional experience” section. This part should ideally be presented in reverse chronological order (starting with the most recent) and contain a brief description of the activities carried out during each experience. A few words are enough; the goal is to be clear and have impact.
3. An "education and training" section. This outlines your academic history as well as training courses attended, and diplomas obtained.
You can also add:
1. Your language skills
2. Your computer skills and software experience
3. Your favourite hobbies or activities, if relevant (talking about your passion for running when you apply to a sports store is particularly relevant, for example).
4. Your personal skills and qualities
5. Your references (contact people who can attest to your work capabilities)
6. Your notice period
7. Your social networks
8. Your photograph
You must decide whether or not to include non-essential information depending on the position you are applying for. For example, it is important to mention your computer skills if you are applying for a position in administration or to put a link to your social networks if you are applying for a Community Manager position.
Key points for your ideal CV
It is sometimes tempting to cheat a little when writing your CV, for example by adding a few years of experience to a position or by mentioning a diploma that has not actually been obtained: this is a big mistake! It doesn't matter if you don't fully match the position; it's better to tell the truth than to run the risk of being caught out and discounting yourself completely by doing so. Remember that people talk to each other, and by lying, you could jeopardise your reputation with other employers, even before you have met them.
Take care of your presentation
Even if the substance is more important, it is important not to neglect the form. There are many online tools which you can use to easily create a modern and original CV. Stay clear headed but don't be afraid to add a little touch of colour and originality to set yourself apart from your competitors. Bonus: A well-presented CV will also demonstrate your ability to use certain layout software, which can be a real advantage for certain positions.
Double check your documents as many times as needed
Errors in a CV could exclude you from being considered for the role, especially since you have ample time to proofread and make any corrections. Don't be afraid to ask others to proofread your text, and to of course proofread it yourself several times, so as not to leave any small typos hidden in your sentences.
Use action verbs, strong words and flattering adjectives when writing your CV. Demonstrate your motivation through the words you choose and if you can, mention concrete activities and verifiable figures in order to give the reader tangible examples of your skills and experience.
You're now ready to submit your application and perhaps get a first interview ! Don't forget to believe in yourself and your abilities, and remember that if you're not successful at first, there are always lessons to be learnt for next time. Good luck.