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Career Advice

02 Apr 15

Basics aren’t enough. Make your CV stand out!

Make your charity CV stand out!

You’ve seen a job advertisement for a job at an organisation that would be perfect for you. It could be the big break you’ve been looking for to jump start your career, or it could be the next sensible step on the career ladder, but whatever it is you’ve got to beat the hundreds of other candidates applying for the same job.

So, how to you rise through the ranks and beat the competition to secure your dream job?

It’s pretty easy to write a standard CV but it’s not so easy to write a good one that’s going to get you noticed. Although a lot of people think there are, there aren’t actually any standards for writing a CV.

CVs don’t have to follow a specific format, it’s merely an advert for your skills and credentials. However, there are certain basic elements that you’ll definitely benefit from including:

  • Employment history
  • Key achievements, including the impact and results of your work
  • Education history
  • Contact information

A lot of people also like to add career objectives and interests to pad out their qualifications and employment history to make it more interesting to read.

Now, although you’ve got the basics, you’re still not winning any prizes for this CV. Here are a few extras that could come in useful:

Think outside the box

Although, for the most part, everyone’s CV will contain pretty much the same information, your impressive previous employers and top notch qualifications aren’t going to be enough to get you noticed.

You need to face up to the competition and think hard about how you can be different. Think outside the box and come up with a way to present your CV that will stand out from the rest but still holds a professional edge.

Remember the main purpose of your CV

Yes, your CV is there to inform potential employers of the experience and qualifications that make you suitable for the job, but this is by no means the main purpose. Don’t forget, you won’t be the only one with relevant qualifications and experience so these won’t be enough to secure an interview.

The main purpose of your CV is to get you noticed, to make sure you get an interview and don’t end up on the pile of rejections with the majority of other applicants. Remember, before your CV even makes it to the employer it’s got to make it past the recruiter who will decide whether you’re suitable for the role, so it needs to be something that people want to read. It needs to be interesting. So, sell yourself – for example by highlighting your achievements in each of your past roles.

Include specific achievements

Try to avoid empty buzz words such as ‘self-starter’ or ‘exceptional communication skills’ because they dilute your CV. Instead, tailor your CV to your specific experience and achievements. Of course there is no set format that you need to follow. However you’ll get where we’re coming from if you ask yourself which of these sentences is more convincing:

1. Special Events Fundraising Manager with 8 years’ experience leading a team to organise over 15 successful Galas for 500+ guests and securing up to £2 million from one event.

2. Special Events Fundraising Manager with great communication and team management skills.

We’d be surprised if you picked number 2!