That's a question which is often asked of us here at JIC. So, counting down in order of importance, here are our top 10 ways you can improve your CV immediately and help you secure a top nanny, governor or governess job.
Let’s get started!
So whether you believe it or not, candidates often submit a CV and then later send a follow up email saying that the contact details on the CV are not correct.
Changes to phone numbers and Skype addresses are all common occurrences, but these details must be kept up to date on your CV! If you only add your contact information as an afterthought it can easily be lost. Employers may end up calling the number on your CV only to find out that it is no longer in use and giving up; and you lose your opportunity.
Emailing through new contact details later on also looks unprofessional. You want to put your best self forward for every role, so keep those contact details updated!
Trust me - your CV will look way better with your qualifications and your work experience listed (separately) in reverse chronological format. That means starting with the most recent position (or the one you are still doing) and working backwards.
This helps the employer or agency to understand where you are right now. You want the person reading your résumé to understand your current situation and recent achievements from the outset; they can make their own way to the earlier and less relevant information in their own time. Remember, you are putting your best self forward, so make this a chance to demonstrate your most recent achievements.
It is to your benefit to provide a CV which is as easy on the eye as possible. Many employers groan when they open a résumé to find that it is five or more pages long, with pages and pages of irrelevant material.
The ideal length for a CV is two pages. If you really do have a lot of relevant qualifications and work experience that cannot be summed up concisely you may wish to venture onto a third page, but more than this is hardly ever advisable. Cut out any work experience that is very short term, unrelated to the role you are applying for, or longer than fifteen years ago. In this way you make your CV accessible and appropriate to your role, giving you the best chance of being put forward for the position.
Scenes in the agency office when you apply for a job with your 8-page CV
Following on from this - you should only list relevant information on your CV! If you are applying for a role as a nanny or a governess, your part-time job working as an assistant in a coffee shop when you were sixteen will actually detract from your CV, rather than adding to it.
For your best chance of getting the role you want, only include work that is relevant to the position you are applying for now. The best CVs are the ones that are tailored to the role and include only the qualifications and work experience which the employer is likely to see as useful.
As a general rule, work experience more than fifteen years ago is rarely relevant. As previously mentioned, removing unnecessary work experience will also help to keep the length of your CV down; you want it to be as concise and easy to read as possible.
If you have certificates, copies of qualifications or photos that you are attaching along with your CV to support your application, give the files sensible names! This ensures that you continue to come across as professional. Think about it; if you were an employer, would you rather receive a photo named ‘Annebackgroundcheck.jpg’ or ‘photofromwork1.jpg’, or ‘zzzzz.jpg’ or ‘chillingout.jpg’?
Naming the files properly also means it is easier for them to be sorted and then found again at a later date, making your application process one that is comfortable and easy to follow for all parties.
We’re getting into the important stuff now.
When listing your previous work experience, rather than just filling a paragraph, try and break it up and make it easy to read. When did you work there? What were your duties? How did you manage? Did your charges improve their school results, learn a new skill, get better at reading? Did their behaviour see improvements? Did they pass any exams or go through any significant changes whilst under your care?
Remember what your future employer really wants to see: results in their child’s development and education, as well as care for his/her well-being. Take this chance to show the potential employer the results you’ve achieved before and what you can do for them.
But what did you achieve?
As well as being limited to (ideally) two pages, it is a good idea for your CV to be clean and clearly laid out.
Use a sensible font like Arial, Calibri or Verdana. Comic Sans was great at school but now it comes across as childish and unprofessional. Similarly, keep the font size sensible (11 or 12 is ample big enough for most fonts) and avoid crushing information together.
Keep your CV sensibly spaced and, as previously mentioned, make the extra room by removing any sections that are not required for an application for the role in question.
Onto the essentials.
A covering letter is the perfect way to summarise YOU to an agency or employer. It is often as simple as a short email which accompanies your CV and explains who you are to the agency or employer.
Your covering letter should include your own personal summary (name, location, availability, etc.) and the skills you have that make you a good candidate for the position available. If you have relevant work experience that you can quickly summarise, put this here too. For example, your cover email may read:
Dear Sir/ Madam,
I am writing to express my interest in role JIC1 as displayed on your website. My name is Anne and I am a 35-year old nanny from Epson, Surrey in the UK. I believe I would be a great fit for this role as I have recently completed a four year contract working for a family in London and I am looking for something new.
I am a fully qualified nanny with a clean background check. I also speak French and play the piano; skills which I feel I could incorporate into this role. Please find my CV and relevant certificates and photographs attached, and note that I can provide letters of recommendations upon request. I hope to hear from you soon.
Remember to try and keep your covering letter short (under 200 words) wherever possible. It should accompany your CV, not replace it!
When families or recruiters look at your résumé, it is a lot easier for them to picture you in the role you are applying for if you can provide photographs of yourself at work. This is a great opportunity to show an employer that you are both presentable and professional.
Images of you demonstrating any specialist knowledge you have can be particularly poignant; playing chess with a student, coaching a sport, reading, or simply posing in a photo together with some happy kids. Just make sure that you have the parents' permission to share the photos before sending them along with any application you make.
Show everyone how happy you are at work... probably.
Spelling mistakes in your CV are unforgivable - so avoiding them is our number one.
As a recruiter, you wouldn’t believe the amount of CVs I look through that are littered with spelling and grammatical errors; and sadly most of them will never be put in front of any family as they come across as unprofessional. Furthermore, an agency can quickly lose faith in a candidate who makes mistakes in their application; we have to ask ourselves if the candidate really cares about getting the job!
If spelling and grammar are not your strong points, ask a friend to look through your CV and use a spellchecker like Grammarly to back it up. The most common mistakes include the use of apostrophes (please never use them to make a word plural!) and not capitalising proper nouns. Forgetting the capital ‘E’ in English is unforgivable if you are applying for any role as a native English speaker!