Your CV is also the first point of contact with a prospective employer for many job seekers. It’s your first chance to sell yourself, get heard, and, most importantly, ensure that any future doors aren’t shut in your face. First impressions are important, so make this one count.As an environmental recruiting firm, we’ve helped hundreds of graduates get their foot in the door of a career in sustainability or environmental protection. However, the following suggestions for enhancing your CV refer to every industry or sector in which you wish to work:

  1. It’s a good idea to have your CV ready well in advance of seeing any work openings, and definitely well ahead of any deadlines, so that you don’t have to hurry through it. This means that the foundations are in place to build on, and that you can tailor the CV to each particular opportunity without putting in a lot of extra effort.
  2. You’ve already heard it before, but it’s worth repeating because there are far too many cases of people who follow the advice – make sure you check it for clarification, pronunciation, and grammar (or have someone else check it for you). If you make a mistake, your CV will end up in the trash (metaphorically, if it’s electronic).
  3. Given that the CV must be customized for and job opportunity, double-check it to ensure that you have the correct version for that business or organization – there’s nothing worse than emphasizing your people management skills when the company in question is simply searching for someone who can function independently.
  4. Make your CV easy to read and interesting – employers will be looking at a lot of CVs, so don’t make it difficult for them; consider the font (and don’t be tempted to go for a funky option! ), size of type, and density of text; avoid colors other than black.
  5. Bullet points are good as long as the list isn’t too long – again, use the ‘pleasure theory’ as your overarching guide.
  6. Wherever possible, use the selection criteria to correlate the qualifications and experience on your CV with the job description – if possible, provide examples of how you match the criteria (think of it as a set of marking criteria – how high will you score?).
  7. A profile (or personal statement) can be effective, but only if you have anything to say that is important. This can be used to display your excitement and ingenuity (perhaps to compensate for a lack of experience), or to demonstrate your passion and loyalty – but avoid clichés and buzzwords.
  8. References aren’t required at this point and would take up too much room – simply state that “references are available upon request” – recruiters will not need references during the CV filtering stage.
  9. When it comes to certain main skills, keep in mind that life experience can be just as valuable as work experience – project management, budgeting, and communication skills, for example, can be illustrated in a variety of ways – so think beyond the box
  10. Don’t forget to include some related technical qualifications and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – what training have you recently completed that demonstrates your skills are up to date? This is especially crucial if you’ve been unemployed for a long time and the employer is worried that you’re out of contact with the industry.
  11. Finally, keep in mind that your CV is not set in stone. If you advance to the next level, get input on your CV – what worked, what stood out, and what was meaningless to the potential employer – and make changes as needed. And don’t be afraid to share your stories with others – blogs and websites are fantastic community resources; if you give to others, they will give back to you.

Remember that your CV is meant to bring you and your experience to life, so provide examples wherever possible to help the prospective employer form an impression of you quickly.