Below is a collection of great CV writing tips to help you review and improve your CV during these very difficult times.
Know the purpose of your CV
The objective of your CV is to land an interview, and the interview will land you the job (hopefully!). If you try to write your Chef CV with the purpose of it solely being responsible for landing you’re dream job, you’re likely to end up with a really long and boring document that makes you look like a desperate job hunter.
One CV for each employer
One of the most common mistakes that people make is to create a standard CV and send it to all the job openings that they can find. Sure it will save you time, but it will also greatly decrease the chances of landing an interview (so in reality it could even represent a waste of time). Tailor your CV for each employer. The same point applies to your cover letters. You know as well as we do, that not all Chef jobs are the same and the responsibilities of being a Chef de Partie in a small restaurant may be completely different if you apply for a job at the Savoy.
Two pages (no more)
The ideal length for a CV is always up for debate. Most employers and recruiting specialists, however, say that it should be no more than two pages at maximum. Just keep in mind that provided all the necessary information is there, the shorter your CV, the better.
Use action verbs
Very common advice for job seekers is to use action verbs. But what are they? Action verbs are basically verbs that will get noticed more easily and that will clearly communicate what your experience or achievements were. Examples include managed, coached, enforced and planned.
Where are you going?
Including professional goals can help you by giving employers an idea of where you are going, and how you want to arrive there. You don’t need to have a special section devoted to your professional objectives, but overall your CV must communicate it.
Back up your qualities and strengths
Instead of creating a long (and boring) list with all your qualities try to connect them with real life and work experiences. In other words, you need to back these qualities and strengths up or else it will appear that you are just trying to inflate things.
Put the most important information first
This point is valid both to the overall order of your CV, as well as to the individual sections. Most of the time your previous work experience will be the most important part of the CV, so put it at the top. When describing your experiences or skills, list the most important ones first.
Explain the benefits of your skills
Merely stating that you can perform the duties of a Sous Chef for example will not catch the attention of a potential employer. If you explain how as a Sous Chef you’ll benefit their company and connect this to the tangible results you’ve achieved else where, then you will greatly improve your chances of getting hired.
Achievements instead of responsibilities
CVs that include a long list of ‘responsibilities included…’ are plain boring, and not efficient in selling yourself. Instead of listing responsibilities, therefore, describe your achievements – bring your CV to life using real examples.
If you’re going to describe your past achievements, it would be a good idea to make them as solid as possible. Numbers are your friends here. Don’t merely mention that you increased the number of covers handled by the kitchen you managed, say that you increased covers from a daily average of 100 to 140, and so on.
Make sure you use the right keywords
Most employers (even smaller ones) are already using digital databases to search for candidates. This means that most will run search queries based on specific keywords. Guess what, if your CV doesn’t have the keywords related to the job you are applying for, you will be out even before the game starts. These keywords will usually be nouns. Check the job description and related job ads for a clue on what the employer might be looking for. Time spent researching keywords for your Chef CV will really help you to be on the radar.
Use effective titles
Like it or not, employers will usually make a judgment about your CV in 20 seconds or less. Under this time frame the most important aspect will be the titles that you have listed on your CV, so make sure they grab the attention. Try to be as descriptive as possible, giving the employer a good idea about the nature of your past work experiences.
Use bullet points
No employer will have the time (or patience) to read long paragraphs of text. Make sure, therefore, to use bullet points and short sentences to describe your experiences, educational background and professional objectives. Think about how busy you are as a Chef and imagine the person reviewing your CV is in a similar position!
Don’t include ‘no kidding’ information
There are many people that like to include statements like ‘Available for interview’ or ‘References available upon request’. If you are sending a CV to a company, it should be a given that you’re available for an interview and that you will provide references if requested. Just avoid items that will make the employer think ‘no kidding!’
Do not include information that might sound negative in the eyes of the employer. This is valid both in terms of your CV and to interviews. You don’t need to include, for instance, things that you hated about your last company.
Sure, we know that you are good looking, but unless you are applying for a job where the physical traits are very important (e.g., modelling, acting and so on), and unless the employer specifically requested it, you should avoid attaching your picture to a CV.
Unless you’re 100% sure that some of your hobbies will support you candidacy, avoid mentioning them.
Avoid age discrimination
It’s illegal to discriminate people because of their age, but some employers do take this information into consideration nonetheless. Why risk the trouble? Unless specifically requested, do not include your age on your CV.
Go with what you’ve got
If you’ve never had any real working experience, just include your summer jobs or volunteer work. As long as the points you list are relevant to the job in question, it doesn’t matter if they are official or not.
Mention who you worked with
If you have reported to or worked with someone that is well known in your industry, it could be a good idea to mention it on the CV. Having held a position reporting in to Tom Kerridge for example would be a definite point to include on your CV.
You don’t need to list all your work experiences
If you have job experiences that you’re not proud of, or that are not relevant to the current opportunity, you should just omit them.
List all your positions
If you have worked a long time for the same company (over 10 years) it could be a good idea to list all the different positions and roles that you had during this time separately. You’ve probably had different responsibilities and developed different skills during each role, which will be of interest to an employer.
No jargon or slang
It should be common sense, but it’s not. Slang should never be present in a CV. As for technical jargon, don’t always assume that the employer will know what you’re talking about.
No scattered information
Your CV must have a clear focus. Make sure that all the information you include will work towards a unified image. Employers are all for ‘life experience’ but want to know that you’ve settled on a career path you wish to develop further with them.
Don’t include irrelevant information
Irrelevant information such as political affiliation; religion and sexual preference will not help you. In fact it might even hurt your chances of landing an interview. Just skip it.
Use Mr. and Ms. if appropriate
If you have a gender neutral name like Alex or Ryan make sure to include the Mr. or Ms. prefix, so that employers will not get confused about your gender.
No lies, please
Seems like a no brainer, but you would be amused to discover the amount of people that lie in their CVs. Even small lies should be avoided. Apart from being wrong, most employers do background checks these days, and if you’re busted it might ruin your credibility for good.
Keep salary in mind
The image you will create with your CV must match the salary and responsibility level that you are aiming for.
Analyse job ads
You will find plenty of useful information on Chef job ads. Analyse not only the ad that you will be applying for, but also those from companies in the same segment or offering related positions. You should be able to identify what profile they are looking for and how best to present your information / CV.
Attention to the typography
First of all make sure that your fonts are big enough. The smallest you should go is 11 points, but 12 is probably safer. Do not use capital letters all over the place and remember that your goal is to communicate a message as fast and as clearly as possible. Arial and Times are good choices of clear font typefaces.
No fancy design details
Do not use a coloured background, fancy fonts or images on your CV. Sure, you might think that the little flowers will cheer up the document, but other people might just throw it away on sight.
Make the design flow with white space
Do not jam your CV with text. Sure we’ve said you should make your CV as short and concise as possible, but that refers to the overall amount of information and not to how much text you can pack into a single sheet of paper. White space between the words, lines and paragraphs can improve the legibility of your CV.
Careful with sample CV templates
There are many websites that offer free CV templates. While they can help you to get an idea of what you are looking for, don’t just copy and paste one of the most used ones. You certainly don’t want to look just like every other candidate, do you?
Create an email proof format
It’s very likely that you’ll end up sending your CV via email to most companies. Apart from having a Word document ready to go as an attachment, you should also have a text version of your CV that doesn’t look disfigured in the body of an email or other online forms. Spam filters may block email attachments and many people just prefer having the CV in the body of the email itself.
Proofread it twice
It would be difficult to over emphasise the importance of proofreading your CV. One small typo and your chances of getting hired could slip. Proofreading it once is not enough, so do it twice, three times or as many as necessary.
Get someone else to review your CV
Even if you think you’re CV is looking good, it’s prudent to get a second and third opinion about it. We usually become blind to our own mistakes or way of reasoning, so another person will be in a good position to evaluate the overall quality of your CV and make appropriate suggestions.
Update your CV regularly
It is a good idea to update your CV on a regular basis. Add all the new information that you think is relevant, as well as courses, training programs and other qualifications that you might receive along the way. This is the best way to keep track of everything and to make sure that you will not end up sending an obsolete document to the employer.
Consider getting professional help
If you’re having a hard time creating your CV, or if you’re receiving no response whatsoever from companies, you could consider hiring a professional CV writing service. There are both local and online options available and usually the investment will be worth the money.