While many jobs can still be applied for in the traditional way, by sending a printed CV and covering letter by post to the organisation that is offering the position, an increasing number of employers now accept and even encourage the practice of sending of CVs via e-mail. There are a number of advantages to this approach – it’s almost instantaneous, it works out a lot cheaper, especially if you are applying for jobs abroad, and it reduces paper waste. In addition, some websites offer you the chance to post your CV online where it can be seen by thousands of potential employers without you having to lift a finger. An electronic CV is generally similar to a printed CV, however there are several key differences between the two forms that are important to bear in mind when producing the document.
Perhaps most importantly, you have to ensure that your CV can be easily read on any computer, regardless of software and hardware differences. For this reason it is best to save your CV in ASCII or plain text format, as the recipient may not have the same word-processing software, or even the same version of a particular program, as you have typed the CV into. Keep the formatting as simple as possible, as indents, columns, page breaks and bullet points can all be interpreted differently by different computers and leave your CV looking like a mess on arrival.
Although most paper CVs are lucky to receive anything other than a quick perusal, if anything an electronic CV will receive even less detailed attention. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that you keep it short and crisp. Summarise what you feel to be your strong points and avoid unnecessary detail. The primary function of an electronic CV is to grab the attention of the employer. If what they see intrigues them, then they will get in touch with you for more details.
For the same reason it is important to make appropriate use of keywords to draw attention to the important things in your CV, especially if it’s posted on a jobs site. Given that the great majority of internet searches are keyword-based, it is important to use words and phrases that are likely to be searched for by potential employers. Use keywords that are specifically related to the industry and the type of job you wish to work in. Try to incorporate positive, descriptive terms into descriptions of your skills and experiences that you feel employers will be likely to search for. For example, an employer looking for clerical staff might search for terms such as ‘fast and accurate typist’ or ‘strong IT skills’.
Finally, be sure to include your name, contact details and website, if you have one that you feel is worth showing to employers, along with a short profile of your career and achievements to date in reverse chronological order. If an employer is interested in your CV but finds it anything other than easy to find your contact details, chances are they won’t contact you at all.
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