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CV, resume and skills checklist help

I already have a curriculum vitae/resume - do I have to rewrite one in your format?

No! If you're looking for work, you will most likely already have a CV that you can use. That's fine - however we do ask where possible for you to make sure it is written in the report style (i.e. no I's, Me's, My's, His', Her's, Mr. Smith's etc.). This often cuts the word count by 10%.

The aim of this guide is to help you assess your own CV and see if there's any improvements to be made. You'd be surprised how often basic useful information is left off! We have used our many years experience to construct this guide on creating an effective, winning CV.

This is where the clients will look after they have been hooked in by the Skills Checklist. The Skills Checklist is a short, concise, functional version of your CV, so the main CV must therefore contain much more detail - including everything mentioned in your Skills Checklist (that is why it is important to do the Skill Checklist first of all). Please read our CV guide before you submit or compose your CV!

Please include references on your CV and note that any that relate to your current employment will only be checked in the event of an offer.
References to include name, job title, company address, telephone number and email address.

To help with completing your CV, please download our CV template (3kb - 1 rich text file in winzip format).

CV guide - Doing Yourself Justice! But beware it's NEVER finished!

Personal profile:

Your profile should ideally be at the top of your skills list, as opposed to the CV. In a recent survey, the thing that companies dislike about personal profiles is applicant's self-perception and opinion - e.g. 'A natural leader with a flair for managing people'. Says who? This is a platitude - you're hardly going to write - 'A misery who cannot get along with anyone'! Stick to facts about your achievements, objectives, experience and background in your personal profile. You can show people your personality at interview. It's best to write your profile (as well as the rest of the CV) in report format, this helps when addressing the comments above.

The profile should be something that briefly summarises your skills and experience at a glance, and should include things like:

  • Your qualification subject/level.
  • A few of your key skills (what you are able to do).
  • Your objective (what you want to do).

Top Tips!

Content is more important than size.

  • Don't rely on professional CV writers as they often do not do justice to engineering CVs.
  • DON'T go squeezing a CV onto two sides if it means leaving off a load of potentially useful information especially in terms of technical skills you possess. Engineering CVs are different to any other kind of CV.
  • DON'T keep the CV small by making the fonts smaller.
  • DON'T go too far the other way and make the CV 7 pages long. Between 3 and 4 pages should be about enough for most technical roles.
  • Don't keep adding to an old CV, the style/fonts/layout may not match the original one.
  • DO use clear, well proportioned typefaces - Arial/Helvetica 10 pt, Verdana 10 pt, Times 12 pt
  • DO leave space between sections
  • DO keep the presentation simple.
    • Forget borders and fancy fonts.
    • Avoid using columns, frames and tables. They make it hard for us to edit your CV, and confuses the OCR software if we have to scan it.
    • Try and stick to 1 or 2 typefaces in a single document - more is confusing to the eye.
    • Don't use colour - it doesn't photocopy in mono.
    • Don't use pictures - we take them off anyway.
    • Many of the CVs we receive on disk or email seem to indicate the author was using the CV to teach themselves all the advanced features on MS Word - and failing. Now is not the time to experiment!

Style and Prose

Write in report style - or what Microsoft Word calls 'the Passive Voice' in its grammar checker. In fact, if you use Word with the grammar checker, it usually fusses about using the passive voice. In CV's however, the passive voice makes prose less verbose and easier to read. E.g. Rather than 'I have a practical experience of tea making', put 'Extensive experience in tea making'. You will probably find that this can cut down the word count of your CV by up to 10%, while keeping the same literal content.

Spelling

With the advent of automated spell checking, this is not such a major problem. However, there are still examples of poor spelling, or using a non-British spell checker. Perhaps surprisingly, the worst spelling errors, and lack of attention to detail seems to be from those looking for the more high -powered executive jobs! There is no excuse for this, especially if the CV is word-processed, which it should be. Get someone, ideally who knows the jargon you have used, to proof read your CV - some spell checkers can't spot words out of context - 'there' and 'their' or 'wood' and 'would'.

Presentation

Hopefully, you will be sending your CV by disk or email. If you can't, and have to print it out yourself, then it needs to be on clean, white paper, using a laser printer or quality inkjet. Multi-coloured paper and/or dot matrix just doesn't cut the mustard.

Time

People generally underestimate how important a good CV is. It makes a lot of difference in getting interviews, There are so many stories of people who couldn't understand why they weren't getting more interviews, and, after changing their CV, suddenly had a plethora of interview offers! What this means is that you cannot rush your CV. It's no good thinking 'I'd better bash out a CV' when you want to start looking for work.

You need to keep a constantly improved and updated CV/Skills Checklist. However, if you are reading this then it is likely you are looking for a job. Hopefully, by reading the information on this page, you should be able to cut down the time it takes to compose your CV.

Note: - only send us updates when you make a significant change such as new employer, additional qualifications, change of address etc.
You do not need to send a new CV each time you apply for a new job or if you have made minor layout changes.

Make no mistake, though, your CV will not reach its peak of perfection until after many edits.

Personal Information

Make sure you include ALL of the following (Without Fail! Grrrr!):

  • Nationality - Again, required. Some jobs have a lengthy security clearance process for non-UK nationals.
  • Driving Licence (None/Full/Provisional, Car/Motorbike/HGV)
  • Any relevant disclosures that you want the employers to know about (D.O.B., availability, travel restrictions).
  • Visa status - If you are not an E.U. national, type of visa and expiry date. Note, if you are on a visitor's visa only, we are unable to help you.

Education

Too many people, even fresh graduates, do not sell themselves enough on their best qualification(s).

  • DO List your most recent academic achievements first. In some circumstances, it may be wise to order education by qualification level, although this would often be the same as most-recent-first.
  • DO List the dates (to and from) and establishments
  • DO List the Level, Grade and Subject. (e.g. B.Eng. (2.2 Hons) Broadcast Electronics)
  • DO write a couple of sentences about the subject you studied, especially if it is slightly esoteric.
  • Recent Grads (< 3 yrs) - DON'T Just list the qualification and a few token modules, list all modules.
  • DO Write a short paragraph about yout project/dissertation. This can be taken straight from your project's Executive Summary/Precis.
  • DO qualify skills you mentioned in the skills list here. If you have 'ANSI C' on your skills list, make sure you put down what you did with it on your course.
  • DO Write a short paragraph about the most important technical skills you gained. Try and think what will attract employers.
  • DON'T bother laboriously listing your GCSE's or O-Levels. At the level we operate they are less significant. Just put how many you got, and perhaps the fact you got Maths and English. Also list them across the page to save space.
  • DON'T write too much about A-levels. Just a couple of lines at most and the year.
  • DO include short/evening courses (including duration and course provider) and internal company training/specialist short courses and the year.

On the whole, the main problem is lack of content. Give people something to read!

Work Experience

Typically, we see the same problem here as above. Not enough 'content' to the skills and responsibilties.

  • DO Put your most recent job first.
  • DO give information about the employer, location and its product(s) or services, as well as your specific role.
  • DO Give more emphasis to jobs held in the last few years.
  • DO List key achievements and responsibilites.
  • DO Try and emphasise responsibilities which will catch potential employers eyes.
  • DON'T List more than 7 responsibilities/achievements. The average person naturally takes in/retains information on up to 7 key points, no more.
  • DO Try and list at least 4.
  • DO qualify skills you mentioned in the skills list here. If you have 'VLSI' on your skills list, make sure you put down in what professional context. Don't forget to expand abbreviations the first time you use them as well.
  • DON'T give as much detail about your career history more than a few years ago. Try and give more space over to your last two or perhaps three jobs. Ancient jobs can just be very brief summaries. But DO go right back to secondary/college.
  • DO Make sure you put down dates (start and finish).
  • DON'T Leave gaps in your history, If you were unemployed - say so - and try and list something positive you did during that period, such as learning a new skill, travelling, career search or whatever. If you entered full-time education, put a single line in the relevant place in your employment history, referring the person reading to your education section. State if jobs are full/part time, permanent/contract/temporary/interim.

Basically, we recommend a two part CV - One functional (skills list), the other chronological (main CV). The CV layout should be traditional and chronological, but the content should be skills based and functional. Also, ordering is important. People take most interest in the first things they read. That is why:

  • Skills List First.
  • Most recent/best qualifications first.
  • Most recent employment first.

Example CV

Example CVs are not usually a good idea, as people tend to copy them exactly. The problem is that everyone has different skills and experience.

This CV is an illustration of the points above, applied to a 37 year old graduate with 10 years post - graduate work experience.

Obviously, if you are a 49 - year old project manager with 30 years work experience your CV will have a different emphasis and content! The example CV, if anything is a little terse for someone with this experience, but it does give some indication of applying the ideas given above. Remember - design your own CV - one that sells YOU!

This CV has been designed to match our example Skills Checklist.

I've already sent you my CV - isn't that enough?

A lot of agencies (particularly job sites) will get you to register, send your CV... and then that's it. You never hear from them again, except for a few automated job updates.

We're different. We really do want to help you!

We've now been in the engineering recruitment business since 1988 and our senior consultant has over 25 years engineering recruitment experience, which has given us a great deal of experience and knowledge of what companies are looking for. What we have done is taken that knowledge and designed the Skills Checklist to help you sell yourself. As the name suggests it brings together all of your core skills at the front of your CV and makes them much easier for the companies to find. Once the company knows you have the skills they require, then can then look on to your previous experience.

We have had a lot of positive feedback on the Skills Checklist from both Job-seekers and Employers alike. That is why we have made the Skills Checklist a compulsory requirement. The fact is - you stand a higher chance of finding employment if you use it. And after all, that is what we are here to help with!

It isn't long; it's a one-page, short-form version of your CV, without the chronological employment/education histories, referees, personal interests etc. It focuses on you - what you can do, and what you want to do.

Download our Skills Checklist template (3kb - 1 rich text file in winzip format).

What is more, we now offer employers the chance to search on the Skills Checklist you submit to us. They type in the skills they are looking for, and they get a number of Skills Profiles back in return (with name/contact/present employer information removed of course). They then have the option to request your full chronological CV from us, in which case we will contact you to let you know that a company is interested, and to ask if you are still looking for work.

The example below shows what this document should look like. We have used some of the most common headings to construct this Skills Checklist, but feel free to add or subtract any of them as necessary. Mould it into a document that promotes your skills and abilities to their maximum.

Example Skills Checklist


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