“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison
A CV (Curriculum Vitae), or résumé, is still the most popular way of applying for a job or approaching an employer. Even if you are applying through an online application process, your CV will still be the basis for your application. Many landscape companies are still quite traditional when it comes to recruitment and value a well put together and relevant CV. To produce a CV that stands a chance of getting you an interview, takes work and effort. I have seen a fair few which are far from fit for purpose and would go straight in the ‘No’ pile.
The value of a good CV
Why is a CV so important? Well, it is more than likely the first thing an employer will see and use to gauge whether they are interested in you. Consequently, it will either improve your chances of getting an interview, or not, so it is important you spend the time getting it right. Having said that, make sure your social media fairly represents you, as potential employers will also check this.
Time is of the essence
Employers could well receive dozens of applications and CV’s, so they may not have time to read everyone they receive in great detail, it therefore needs to stand out by being relevant, accurate, concise, and covering no more than two or three pages. The reader should be able to gain a clear idea of your skills, experiences and therefore potential in joining the landscape company. This should be demonstrated early in the CV, which should make sure you go on the ‘Maybe’ or more importantly, the ‘Yes’ pile. Accomplish this by also using headings, short sentences, and bullets points to get everything across at a glance.
Your CV should be tailored to the job you are applying for, a blanket email sent out to lots of adverts and companies will not magically fit every job, they easy to spot and may well be disregarded. Why should a company spend any time on your CV, when you clearly have not spent the time applying specifically for their job! So, look at the job description and the skills the landscape company are asking for and match them up to your skills. Remember experience is not the only thing companies are looking for, so make sure you highlight your relevant transferable skills. Also, research the company, look at their website, social media, they will appreciate the extra effort.
The whole truth and nothing but the truth
While a CV is all about selling yourself, you have to be truthful, don’t lie or exaggerate what you have done and can do, because they’ll find this out either at the interview, when you can’t answer related questions, or if you start the job and blatantly can’t do what you claimed you could. Instead this is an opportunity to tell them about what you are good at.
This is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects. Its needs to look professional and showcase who you are. I would always start with:
- your personal details (name, address and contact details). Make sure your email address sounds professional
- personal statement, a paragraph summary of who you are, your skills and experience and why you would be the best person for the job. This is perhaps the most important part of the CV, as it will determine if the reader wants to look further into your CV, so make it personal, short, and snappy
- key skills that line up with the skills in the job description and others you feel may also be of value to the company. Write and describe these skills and how you have demonstrated them in previous work, using the key words in the job description
- work history in reverse chronological order, the most recent first, covering what your position was, relevant responsibilities and include dates, year and month start and end
- education and qualifications, in reverse chronological order (if you have just left school you may want to put this section before work history)
- references, you can often say these will be available on request
Key phrases are often what employers and recruitment companies are looking for, so make the most of active verbs where you ‘created’, ‘analysed’ and devised’. Avoid over generic phrases like ‘good communicator’ or ‘team player’ unless you back them up with specific and relevant examples of why you are those things.
Read it through several times, make sure it flows, covers everything, that you keep it professional, no typos, grammatically error free and focused. Better yet, get someone else to check it through to check for mistakes you might have missed. Then get it sent off and wait for the phone call!
In our next blog we will look at to prepare for an interview.