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Is it Worth Putting Time Into Preparing Your Construction Industry CV?


A Tough Construction Industry Market in the UK & Around the World
Nearly all construction professionals that have been looking for a new job over the past couple of years will agree that it is a tough market out there at present with only a few real hot spots. The construction industry has been hit harder than most by the global recession and construction jobs have become far harder to come by.


In my job as a recruitment consultant, I must read around 500 CV’s per week and it is apparent to me that some people are not doing themselves justice when it comes to writing their CV which is potentially wasting access to the job opportunities that are out there. In this blog, I will offer advice on a few common points that candidates may be neglecting when writing their CV.


Employers Want Relevant Construction Experience Demonstrated

In the current market, construction companies are being very specific with the type of experience they would like candidates to have for each new vacancy. Only candidates that meet these criteria are being invited for interview. Therefore, if you have the relevant experience required for your chosen vacancy, it is essential to sell yourself effectively via your CV.


Tailor Your Construction Industry CV to the Job Applied For

Firstly, I want to suggest tailoring your CV to each individual vacancy that you apply for. As mentioned above, companies are looking for specific project experience these days and are becoming more selective than ever. The most common issue I see is applicants not including all their relevant experience in their CV. Quite often I will be interviewing a candidate and they will mention a project that is relevant but not in their CV. This sort of oversight could be the difference between your CV being shortlisted or not in such a competitive market.


For example, if the job you are applying for requires candidates with experience of working on ‘Tunnelling projects’ previously, I would suggest that you should be looking to include the word ‘tunnelling’ in my CV more than a generic application. I would also be making sure that jobs in which I had been involved on tunnelling projects have substantially more detail to them than a residential development that I had worked on for example. This is also true when recruiters use database keyword searches of CVs to draw up a list of potential candidates to contact about a job.


A Covering Letter for a Construction Industry Job Application

Once you have tailored your CV to include all of your most relevant experience, a covering letter is a very useful tool to compliment your application. This is a chance to highlight and sell your key areas of experience to a recruiter.


These days I see very few covering letters; even fewer good ones. It’s a shame because it is the simplest and a most personal way to let employer or a recruiter know why they should consider you for the vacancy that you are applying for. In my personal experience they can be very persuasive. You should keep your covering letter short and to the point, however it is a great way to highlight your relevant experience to a recruiter so they can look up a more detailed summary within your CV.  My preference is for the covering letter to be put in the email body itself rather than as a second attachment.


The Length of Your Construction CV: Are you Able to Précis?
Finally I want to talk about the length of your CV. A CV should be a summary of your experiences to date. A short, to-the-point document that sells your relevant individual experience and skills to an employer. It should not be a 10 page document that contains pages of irrelevant information. I often see CV’s that are 7, 8, 9 pages or more long. The truth is that due to the amount of CV’s recruiters have to review, employers and recruitment agencies will give your CV just a few minutes time when reviewing it the first time over. This is not enough time to read an over lengthy CV in full. Detail can come later if necessary once you have made the cut for serious consideration.


Include the Most Important Points

My advice would be to keep your CV to a maximum of 4 pages (less if possible).  Take a look at your CV and if it is over 4 pages long, have a serious think about shortening it and taking out any information that is not relevant to the construction job in the UK or overseas that you are applying for. What are your key competences & how have you demonstrated them with succinct examples?


I know for people with longer careers in construction, the issue of length of a CV can be difficult. However, more attention and detail should be given to your most recent and relevant experience. Projects you worked on 10 or more years ago do not need explained in substantial detail. If you wish to have a more detailed summary of your project experiences that is 5 pages or more, I suggest you keep this and take it to interview with you as a point of reference when discussing with the employer. However, the CV that you use to apply for the role should be 4 pages or less.


Not Getting Hired? Take Some CV Advice!

If you have been applying for numerous jobs and have not been getting a favourable response, I would recommend looking back at your applications and considering the points I have made above. One or more of these points could be the reason that you are not getting the response you deserve.


For more information on CV writing and step-by-step guide of ‘how to write a good CV’ including a Maxim ‘Template CV’ that can be downloaded, please visit www.maximrecruitment.co.uk and check out our ‘Career Advice’ section.


Stuart Hackett

May 2011

Construction job search