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How To Write A Super CV

Christian Brown, general manager of Madison Recruitment, oversees five offices across New Zealand. He gives his top tips to sharpen your job application.

19 October 2021

Many of us have been there – feeling overwhelmed when you’re writing your curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter for a potential new job.

It’s hard to know what to focus on, what you should include and what you should leave out.

In short, keep it simple, relevant, and put the effort in.

Relevance is key

Make sure your CV is relevant to the job you’re applying for. Nobody needs to know about your part-time babysitting role when you were at high school. I once saw a 22-page CV. It was quite memorable – but not for the right reasons.

Sharpen up your cover letter

Don’t just repeat your CV. Highlight the reasons why you want the role, or why you like the organisation.

Be specific about what you like. Talk about the organisation’s values or that you’ve been inspired by something you’ve seen in the media.

Write your cover letter to the actual person who’s hiring. If you don’t know who it is, find out.

Put the effort in

I get frustrated when some people say they’ve applied for 100 roles and haven’t got any. It’s because recruiters and people hiring know when they’re getting automated CVs. You know that person isn’t after that job, they’re just after any job.

Put in the effort. Don’t rush an application. That’s where mistakes can come in. Be thorough, and re-read and re-check.

Spellcheck is your friend

Use correct formatting and a good design and layout. Use full stops and bullet points correctly.

Avoid creative efforts. Remember that you’re writing a professional document.

Don’t include every single detail

The person interviewing you will probably have a good idea about what you’re doing in your current role. If you’re a receptionist, you don’t need to say ‘answering the phone’ – it’s a waste of time and space.

Talk about things you do over and above your role, that show you have other skills than the basic position.

Check, check, and double-check

Make sure the dates align, and the names of firms are spelled correctly.

Little things really do show the difference between someone who has put in some effort and a once-over-lightly job. Ask a friend who has good attention to detail to read over it too.

Submit PDFs

A Microsoft Word document often comes up with red lines underneath for unusual spellings. These lines don’t look great, and it’s not as easy to read. Convert it to a PDF document before you submit it.

There’s no need to include a photo or age

This is quite a European style, and can open the door for unconscious bias. We don’t recommend people put their age or photo, or even ethnicity or religion, on any application.

Avoid copy/paste mishaps

Avoid copy and pasting from job descriptions, because it’s usually obvious. If it feels like it’s a template cover letter, ditch it, because it will come across that way to the people hiring as well.

They’re probably reading through 15 or even 30 cover letters and CVs. Try to make it bespoke, add in the organisation’s name throughout the cover letter.

It will be time well spent. You’ll come across as having a genuine desire for the specific role.

Be selective in what you apply for

Instead of applying for 10 roles, apply for the top five, and submit strong, tailored applications.

Really try to concentrate on having a better CV and application, relevant to the organisation. This approach is more likely to get you through the door.

JUNO’s content comes from sources that JUNO magazine considers accurate, but we do not guarantee its accuracy. Charts in JUNO are visually indicative, not exact. The content of JUNO is intended as general information only, and you use it at your own risk.

Informed Investor's content comes from sources that Informed Investor magazine considers accurate, but we do not guarantee its accuracy. Charts in Informed Investor are visually indicative, not exact. The content of Informed Investor is intended as general information only, and you use it at your own risk.

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