5 quick tips to update your social care CV
Giving your CV a fresh new layout can be all it needs to improve your chances of being offered an interview. These five simple steps will help you on the way to a more effective CV. Words by Sarah Gill.
12th March 2012
Your CV is one of the most important tools you have when applying for a new social care job, and a well laid out CV can immediately enhance your chances of getting an interview. In the fast paced environment of recruiting, your CV has to stand out from the crowd and deliver your information in a clear and concise way. By following these five simple tips you can give your social care CV a makeover and improve the chances that it will get you an interview.
1. Create a ‘subtitle’
The very first line of text on your CV should always be your full name. You don't need to title it 'Curriculum Vitae' because it's perfectly obvious what the document is, and you want the employer to remember you're an individual - not just another CV. Make your name stand out by making it bigger or bolder than the rest of the CV. Underneath that, you can write a subtitle to put who you are into context for the person reading your CV.
A catchy subtitle, which uses keywords relevant to your skills, will immediately give the employer an indication of whether you are going to be suitable for the job or not. Try to capture their interest by highlighting something about yourself that matches their requirements, either your current social care job or your qualifications. Use words that encompass your current role and where you are in your career such as:
“Experienced Social Worker in Mental Health Services”
“Qualified Youth Worker with JNC recognised degree”
2. Add a ‘key skills’ section
A key skills section is a great way of making your skills crystal clear to an employer reading your CV. You may think your employment history and the responsibilities you've held would indicate the type of skills you have, but to someone who doesn’t know you or isn’t familiar with some of the jobs you’ve done in the past, it can be hard for them to interpret how suitable you are for the role. It's much easier for an employer to establish that you're a suitable candidate if they can check off a list of your skills against those they advertised for in the job description.
At the top of your CV directly below your name and subtitle, create a key skills area that lists all your relevant abilities. In order to tailor this section for the application you're about to make, look at the person specification from the job description. Use this to compare the skills you have with those required in both the essential and desired criteria lists. This will allow you to list exactly the skills the employer is looking for (providing you do actually posses them of course!). If you find your list is shorter than the list given in the job description, think about other skills you posses that could be included such as good communication, punctual, reliable, trustworthy etc.
3. Order employment history by newest first
Your employment history is one of the key factors that an employer will use to assess your suitability for a job. They will look back at the type of work you’ve done, where you’ve worked and most importantly - your current job, whether that's in social care or not. That’s why it’s so important that your employment history is presented in reverse chronological order (newest first) in order to have a maximum impact.
You should allocate more space for your current job than any of your previous positions because it will be very important to the employer to read about the type of work you’re doing now and the responsibilities you have. If your job involves managing staff members, then say how many, and if you’ve taken on additional responsibilities on top of your main job you should include these as well. You can use bullet points where necessary to reduce the amount of space it takes up, or separate the information into paragraphs to make it easier on the eye.
If you have worked in a job that’s very similar to the position you’re applying for now, you should give more space on your CV to describing the role and what your responsibilities are. Experienced candidates appeal to employers because they can immediately draw a comparison between the role you’re already working in and the one you’ve applied for.
4. Simplify the appearance
You can use layout tools such as lists and bullets point to fit a lot of information into a smaller space than if you were writing it out in full sentences. Ideally, your social care CV shouldn’t exceed 2 sides of A4, if it does you risk losing the attention of the employer reading it. But if there’s relevant information that you simply can’t lose, try using bullet points to lay out the important info.
If your employment history is starting to take up too much room, try condensing down each entry into just the job title, dates of employment and a bullet pointed list of responsibilities. Make sure you’re only listing relevant information that will help your application, if the employer needs a full and detailed history of all your past jobs they will usually ask you to complete their own application form, so you don’t need to worry about being completely comprehensive on your CV.
5. No decorative elements
This may sound daft, but I still occasionally see CVs that have titles in a very decorative but hard-to-read font, photographs attached or written entirely in italic text. These elements are entirely unnecessary and only serve to make it harder for the employer to understand your CV.
Your CV should be pleasing to the eye and easy for the recruiter to read in a short space of time, and decorative features such as those listed above can often hinder that. Make sure you choose a simple font, in black, and leave enough room for white space as this makes your CV instantly more appealing that a page of full text.
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