Some of the articles to make their way around the internet in the last few years would have you believe that sending CVs/resumes is an outdated practice and that we need to abandon them altogether. This sentiment originates from a generation of people that want technology to replace any and all archaic processes. However, if you’re applying for a job in New Zealand’s technical industries in 2019, you’ll find that applying without a CV is akin to not applying at all. Don’t buy into the noise online – CVs are still critically important when it comes to landing an interview that will lead to the job offer you’re looking for. Here’s how you can craft a modern, well-articulated document that represents your skills and experience best in this modern age.
Think of your CV as a sales brochure
When you’re putting together your CV, whether you’re editing your existing one or creating one from scratch, you should think of yourself as a product that you’re trying to sell. It’s easy to start mindlessly recounting all of your prior work history, writing it down and then calling it a day. And while that can work, you’re not providing any information that is going to set you apart from other job applicants.
When you’re selling a product a service, perhaps the first thing you consider is the target audience you’re trying to sell to. What are they looking for? What characteristics or traits of the product are most likely to appeal to them? A job applicant with a good CV will have thought about the job they’re going for and the employer in the same way. For any given role, what traits might an employer be looking for? Putting yourself in the employer or recruiter’s shoes will give you insight into which of your skills needs highlighting and which of your prior experience/education needs to explained in more detail. In other words, tailor your CV to the job you’re going for.
And now for the golden rule. When you’re writing your CV for one of New Zealand’s technical industries, experience and technical ability is everything. These are the most salient points that you will want to showcase to an employer.
Once you’ve got a handle on all of this, you’re ready to begin organizing and structuring your document.
Your CV is an employer’s first impression of you. You need to make sure the recruiter or employer can easily obtain the information that you need them to, at first glance.
The order that you lay out the information in a technical CV for a New Zealand employer is important. In order from first to last:
- You’ll always want to lead with your personal details such as name and contact details. A photo of yourself is optional, but ‘if in doubt, leave it out’ is a good rule to follow here.
- It can be a good idea to include a short personal summary that includes your career objectives. Employers like to know what you’re trying to get out of a new job.
- Your previous work experience is the most important section for a technical employer to see. Furthermore, they will want to see your jobs in reverse order – meaning most recent first. Don’t make the person reading your CV have to search or guess as to where your most recent experience is.
- From here on, the order that you display the rest of your information is up to you. It will change depending on the role you’re applying for. For example, if the job you’re going for is a Quality Assurance role, you may want to have a skills section clearly detailing your proficiency with GMP or with working to ISO standards. If the job description stresses the need for a relevant tertiary qualification, you may want to have an ‘Education’ section first with the relevant qualification featured prominently for an employer to assess.
- Most CVs end with some mention of references. You can list your references here or simply note that they are ‘Available on Request’. Opting for the latter is never a detriment to an application, so long as you have references you can provide in an interview later down the line.
A typical New Zealand employer will not mind how you’ve prepared your CV so long as its clear, easy to read and the right length. To that end:
- Creating your CV on Microsoft Word or any other similar software package will suffice for any standard technical CV. You can’t really go wrong no matter what you use, so long as you don’t write it by hand and scan it (I’ve seen this before).
- Don’t go overboard on fancy graphics and colourful presentation. There are two professions where these types of CVs are desirable to employers, and that’s Marketing and childhood teaching. If you’re applying to be a Quantity Surveyor, a Validation Engineer or a Maintenance Electrician, you don’t have a need to showcase your creative graphic design talents.
- This is a big one. If you’re a technical professional with a long history of experience, don’t sell yourself short by truncating your experience to bring your CV’s length down. Some people tend to say ‘less is more’ when it comes to this sort of thing, but those people aren’t employers looking for highly specialized talent in New Zealand’s technical industries. This is especially true for the Construction or Industrial industries – a new employer will want to see all of the projects that you have worked on in the past, to get a sense of what you’re capable of. If you have 4-5 pages of good experience, create a 4-5 page CV.
- …but don’t go overboard. NZ employers like to see longer CVs for more senior, technical roles – but that doesn’t mean 10-15 pages. There’s detailed, and then there’s just excessive.
- Spelling errors are not a good look. You may think “Well, I’m not being hired for my spelling ability” and while that’s quite possibly true, qualities like attention to detail are important in almost every job. Spelling errors show a lack of attention to detail. Fix them.
- Experience gaps. If you’ve got a year that’s unaccounted for between jobs, you’d do well to state in your CV what you did during that time, rather than leaving it to an employer to fill in the blanks.
- Leaving out your reasons for leaving jobs that you may have only worked at for a matter of a few months can also raise concerns for employers. Again, it’s wise to offer an explanation up front, whether you were made redundant or had to leave due to family reasons etc.
- Poor formatting can also be an annoyance. When a recruiter or employer is faced with a myriad of CVs to look through, the one that is full of different sized fonts and inconsistencies will never hold a reader’s attention for very long.
There is no right or wrong way to construct a CV – only the way that best suits you and the job you’re applying for. At the end of the day, it’s a document that ‘sells’ you and therefore whatever you write needs to accurately represent you in a way you feel is appropriate.
Want to see what a veteran technical recruiter has to say on this topic? John Kiriakidis recently wrote a piece about technical CVs that includes some of his own personal experiences from his many years in recruitment.
Article by Dario Luca, Marketing Coordinator