Is key. Your CV is your business card, selling you and your services to a potential employer.
In what is a highly competitive, vacancy driven market it needs to be flawless. Gone are the days of faxed or hard copies in the post, with hand written scrawls. Not to say there wasn’t a time and a place for these, but times have changed and if your CV is scrappy or vague, employers will understandably take a view.
Things have come a long way in recent years, what with advances in technology, mobile devices, tablets, access to the internet becoming available, virtually everywhere. Recruitment has inevitably had to move with the times and is now more accessible online. Given most people start their job search online an electronic copy of your CV is an essential starting point for any job search.
There’s no excuse for basics such as spelling and grammar, spell check, spell check, spell check and once you’re happy with it, ask a friend or family member to read it for you.
Make the effort, if you are using a company CV, written for bid or tendering purposes add some content, change the layout and make your CV your own.
Make sure you publish the CV in a widely used format such as Word (.doc) or a PDF. Knocking a CV together in five minutes on Word Pad or equivalent basic text file, will not suffice.
- Your name
- Email (keep it professional)
- Telephone number
- Personal Information (marital status, driving licence etc.)
- Work Experience (In date order, starting with most recent first)
No CV is the same though, so this is only a guide. Remember to make sure it’s in chronological order though, starting from most recent first and working your way back.
The general rule is that a CV should be no more than 2/3 sides of A4. However this can sometimes be difficult if you have had a long and varied career. What you want to try and avoid is repetition and similarly writing a novel.
You are applying to an industry that should be familiar with the routine elements of your job function, so there should be no need to extend on the day to day. Concentrate more on the specifics, your responsibilities, projects, their values, your standing within the company hierarchy and notable achievements.
So if you are a ‘Site Manager’, perhaps one of so many on a major project, clearly illustrate this. If you managed a section of works, a number of packages, a gang, do not be afraid to say so, on the flipside try not to oversell your capabilities. Be conscious that titles are used differently amongst organisations within the industry, so try and use a generic term for your position/job title, rather than elaborate alternatives.
Summarise how you came to be in the position you are in to date. If you started as an apprentice then show the steps, time served tradesman, working foreman, site manager and so on. Obviously there are a number of different ways to progress within the industry, but try to make your career changes logical and plausible.
Try not to labour mundane facts, explaining why you have chosen to change career. This is something that you can go into more detail at interview as that’s generally the starting point of most interviews, “tell me about yourself”.
Structuring your CV
In the construction industry there tends to be two types of CV:
1. That of a ‘Permanent Employee’
2. or that of ‘Freelancer’/ ‘Temporary Contractor’
These are generally two very different CVs and need to be structured so.
Firstly the ‘Permanent Employee’ it’s a lot easier to clearly depict your work history if you have worked for a set number of employers over a period of time. As above start in reverse order, most recent employer first and list your job title, dates of employment, explain your position within the company, notable projects and achievements. If you have worked at a company or with an employer for a prolonged period of time, emphasise the key points.
If you are a ‘Freelancer’ or ‘Temporary Contractor’ try to make your CV as complete as possible. Writing it in a similar fashion to that or a ‘Permanent Employee’, putting your contracts in date order, not necessarily itemising each contract but grouping periods of employment/contracts together, stating names of employers, your role/s, responsibilities and project information. Avoid using the term ‘Various’ to describe employers or contracts, this can often raise questions as its too generic. Employers like to see continuity, longer term assignments and repeat clients. There are obviously job functions that do not lend themselves to this, such as ‘Site Engineering’ as temporary contractors are commonly used to set out a section of works and then are surplus until their services are required for additional phases.
Either way, try not to tailor your CV to each position you apply to. Instead do this with a well written covering letter, otherwise it is easy to forget who you have sent what and it doesn’t look good if different versions of your CV are being circulated.
How you depict your education and qualifications very much depends on where you are in your career. If you are just starting out its best to put this at the beginning of your CV. Listing your secondary education, further education, institutions you attended and qualifications in that order. Obviously if just starting out try not to go into too much detail about temporary, short term work, paper rounds, bar work and Sunday school aren’t necessary. Summarise these with ‘Short duration part-time work’.
Use clear and concise wording (The Queen’s English). Do not mystify your role or responsibilities. If a potential employer is struggling to understand your job function you are less likely to make the short list.
Writing CVs in the third person? If you are going to use the services of a CV writing company then have the CV written as if it were your own.
Do your Research
Know what you are applying to, read the job specification or advertisement in full. Make sure your skills or qualifications match what the employer is looking for.
Know who you are applying to, if you are not familiar with the company, read up on them and their operations before attending an interview, it will go in your favour if you’ve done your homework.
The norm is for potential employers to request references from two previous employers; this would be contact names and numbers to take up references in person, rather than in writing.
Gain permission from referees prior to submitting their information. One it’s polite to pre-warn them that they will be contacted to provide a reference on your behalf, but two it helps to jog their mind, especially if some time has passed since you have worked for them. Err on the side of caution when putting references on your CV, as good, reliable referees are critical.
You do not need to put references on your CV, so why put their details down? If you are successful at interview stage, an employer is more likely to request them at this point. Simply put ‘References are available upon request’. This way you also know if an employer is likely to progress matters.
It’s all commonsensical stuff, but if you’ve not written a CV for some time it’s easy to forget.
If you would like us to assist you with your career search, then please contact Jamie Pearson or Tom Jefferies at Speyhawk Ltd for a preliminary discussion.