CV Advice

OppO CV guide

Leaving the Armed forces is never a decision to be taken lightly, but once you’ve settled back into the civilian world, finding a new job is often top of your list of priorities. But if you’ve always worked in the forces, translating the skills you have acquired can be quite challenging, not to mention time-consuming.

The average civilian employment agency doesn’t know how to sell your skills to the right employer: they lack the knowledge and understanding you can only acquire through serving in the forces. So it’s important your CV is presented in the best way possible in order to impress and translate your skills to the right employer.

But before you even think about writing that CV, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

- What sort of job are you looking for?
- What can you offer civilian employers?
- What type of civilian job are you suited to?
- How much money do you realistically need to earn to cover living expenses?
- Are you interested in full-time/part-time/volunteer work?
- What are the employment opportunities like in the area you are living in? Would you be willing to relocate for the right role?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you are more likely to have an idea of what you’re looking for. That’s when you can begin to write your CV, and adapt it to suit the type of work you want.

A good way to start thinking about employer’s needs is to research your target job. Search for jobs online or in newspapers, scour company websites and read as many job postings as possible. What types of skills and experiences are employers seeking? What aspect of your background is most relevant? Any information that does not relate to the type of job you’re looking for should be deleted or only mentioned briefly, and this includes any unrelated military awards, training and distinctions. This is often the hardest step for ex-military personnel, which is why it is so common to see military CVs spanning five pages or more. As you decide which information to include, ask yourself, “Will a potential employer care about this experience?” Only include information that will help you land an interview.

So, the CV itself. Where do you even begin? Here are some pointers to help:

• Type your CV on white paper - 2-3 pages maximum.

• Make sure that there are no spelling mistakes – there’s no excuse now every computer has a spell check function.

• Do not include a photograph unless requested by the employer.

• If applying for a particular position, include a covering letter specific to the job you’re applying for.

• Put contact and personal details (address, mobile number, e-mail etc) at the top of the page. Avoid having an unprofessional answer phone message or email address.

• Follow with academic and professional qualifications. Generally people are not interested in what school or college you went to, although you can mention the name of the University you attended.

• Depending on how long ago you did your exams, you do not have to list your school subjects, but you can summarise them, e.g. 7’O’ Levels, 3’A’ Levels. Other qualifications such as City and Guilds or degrees should be more specific.

• You can follow these details with an overview of yourself and your skills. For example: “An experienced manager with knowledge of developing and implementing new procedures to increase both productivity and profits”.

• If applying for a technical position, you may want to list products and systems you are familiar with.

• Start with the most recent position and work backwards.

• Leave no gaps in the career history and include any periods of unemployment.

• For each job, include your job title, key functions of the job, and any notable achievements (projects managed etc). You may also want to mention what business your employer was in.

• You do not have to include the reason why you left a job or your salary package, unless specifically requested, or unless it benefits you (e.g. If you were made redundant).

• If you are a school-leaver or student with no work experience, include any information that may impress an employer such as part-time jobs, extra-curricular activities, memberships of school clubs etc.

• Lastly, you should note that your references are available on request, so when you get to the stage of being asked for references you are able to provide up-to-date information.

Once you’ve got all this information written up into a CV format, you’re ready to go! Having a winning CV is the first step in securing that all-important interview, so getting it right is vital to steer you on the path to career success.