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Writing an excellent construction CV

Writing an excellent construction CV

14 days ago By Gareth Andrews
Construction workers

Writing a CV can seem pretty straight forward, you often download a template online, follow the layout and input in all your details the template requests and voila! It’s done. CV complete and ready to send off.

Or, if you don’t want to go for the conventional approach, you may want to be a bit more creative and stand out from the pack. So, maybe you include a cool looking timeline, some interesting graphics, different fonts with different colours and finish it with a photograph of yourself. All the while trying to keep it on two pages, because that’s what someone told you, right? Wrong.

Before we talk about writing a construction specific CV, let’s banish a few myths and focus on what not to do first.

CV MYTHS

We will start from the top:

  • DON’T experiment with a crazy format. No wacky fonts, colors or designs. DON’T use multi-coloured text or too many different font sizes. Italics, underlining, shading, graphics and vertical/horizontal lines or boxes are also best avoided.
  • DON’T include personal details such as your date of birth, marital status
  • DON’T include a photo
  • DON’T INCLUDE irrelevant education, certificates, courses attended if they are not appropriate to construction
  • DON’T INCLUDE unrelated work experience as well.

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Whilst we are told to include a chronological job history from the very start, your experiences at Maccas at high school are not important. Same goes for casual jobs you had while you were at Uni. If you spent 6-12 month working a job whilst after Uni, include it briefly, but one line is all that is required.

Generally speaking, employers will only look at the last few positions. Make sure you include details of your skills and achievements in these roles. Anything prior to that can be put in a couple of lines.

SKILLS

I wouldn’t include them. Your skills should be included as part of your experience and achievements and tied into your accomplishments that you have achieved in your previous jobs. Just saying you have excellent planning is one thing. It sounds so much better if you can detail how your meticulous approach to planning ensured you delivered a project on time and on budget.

UNRELATED HOBBIES

Similar to ‘skills’, I think they are irrelevant. If I want to see your hobbies, I could look on Facebook. 

LENGTH

Keep your resume length between 2-4 pages. Stick to a clean, easy-to-read format in the same font with the same spacing style throughout. Write it in black and choose fonts like Verdana, Arial, or Calibri. Include consistent spaces, subheadings and bullet points to aid readability. Short, sharp chunks of text work best. You are not telling a story.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Do not include any personal information beyond your address, email, and phone number.

Leave out: your age; date of birth; race; sex; sexual orientation; religion; political affiliation; the names and ages of your spouse and children; and information about your general health.

CANDIDATE SUMMARY

I don’t believe in them. I think they are generally a waste of time and are often overlooked. I haven’t seen many summaries that don’t say I am a hard-working individual, who is passionate about construction and ambitious etc etc

Anything that would traditionally go in this summary should be included in the next section.

EXPERIENCE, PROJECTS, ACCOMPLISHEMTS

Make your projects clear. Include the name of the projects and the value as a bare minimum. Don’t say you were a PM on a $1bn project, if you looked after a package of works worth $60m - make sure it’s accurate.

Include how the project was delivered, whether it was delivered on time and on budget.

Either include a list of the best/most relevant projects you have been involved with. Clients want to see what you have done.

Include a brief list of any special recognitions and awards you've received.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Highlight your achievements as well, not just a standard list of job duties. Give tangible examples of how your project was delivered, what part you played. List your achievements and be proud of what you have achieved. As a result of your achievements, were your put on a bigger job or more complex job? How did it affect your career?

Wherever possible, quantify your achievements. It is much better to say “increased margin on job by 2%” or “reduced claims by $100,000”, rather than making a more general claim. In the construction industry, this language will have most impact.

Tailor your CV

Tailor every CV to every job. Yep, every time. If you are sending the same CV to every job, then you are missing a huge opportunity. It may only be minor tweaks but and it could be a case of simply bringing the more relevant jobs to the top of your projects, focus on the more relevant ones to the company you are applying too. Make a bigger deal of them and downplay others.

PROOFREAD AND SPELL-CHECK – AND CHECK AGAIN

If I am shortlisting applications and you have spelling and grammatical spelling errors, you won’t make the cut. Simple.

KEEP IT UP-TO-DATE

Even if you're not job-hunting, update your resume every time you accept a new job or complete a significant project. Spending 30 minutes every 3-6 months updating your CV keeps it current and will make it seem like less of a burden.