When you share your CV, the average employer will spend as little as six seconds scanning it before deciding whether it's worth a closer look. Your CV is an opportunity to stand out to an employer, but it must also stand out to the Recruiter you are partnering with to ensure that it ends up with your target company. So, how do you get noticed? By following our top 6 tips we will help you to maximise your chances of going from inbox to interest, bypassing the recycle bin.
The process of writing a good CV is both an art and science, and when creating and proofing reading it, you must adopt the skills of a visual designer. Clean lines, good margins and a strong, but simple layout are a must. From this framework, make sure that you maintain consistency in font style and tense and don’t forget to spell check! Unless you are applying for a job as a visual designer, avoid photos, logos and fancy graphics as this can distract your reader and take up valuable space. A good CV should be no more than 2 A4 pages, so use your space wisely.
Consider the following as a skeleton structure:
Objective or brand statement – Include two or three lines at the start of your CV that summarises your intent: who you are, what you do and what you are hoping to achieve with your CV.
Skills and experience – Use brief headings and a bullet point format, display clear and detailed information about your roles. Include the company name, month and year of employment to display continuous employment and if you have been promoted make sure this progression is visible.
Professional highlights and achievements – Use this opportunity to show off a little. Perhaps you have achieved a qualification or been recognised with an award for something stand-out.
Qualifications and education – Make note of any relevant qualifications achieved and position them near the top of your CV. Consider refreshing this every few years to keep up with recent industry trends. Contact details – Make sure when you get noticed that you can be contacted. Your front page should sell you, so pop this information at the end or in a footer (don’t waste valuable space!)
It is normal to have a few versions of your CV and we would recommend that you spend time tailoring these to the position you are applying for. It is also important to have a cut-off point, for example your early school certifications or early employment, while interesting, may now be of less relevance than your more recent skills.
With advancements in Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and job site technology, many recruiters are relying on the use of simple Boolean search strings to identify and filter through pools of relevant CV’s based on the inclusion of related buzzwords from the role profile. This doesn’t mean litter your CV with the latest trends to hit LinkedIn, but carefully study your job specification. If a job description asks for “Agile experience” and you have this skill, then ensure your CV says so. According to a study by Indeed in 2021, 40% of candidates were found to embellish their CVs so try to remain authentic and avoid this common pitfall as employers will find out and the reputational damage caused could be significant.
Applying for a job is a very individual process which relies on you successfully conveying your individual set of skills and value add. While teamwork is typically very important, recruiters are often turned off with the use of “we” in CVs and prefer to see candidates take ownership and demonstrate what they specifically did.
That said, there is an increasing demand in certain markets for multiskilled workers, so being able to demonstrate flexibility in your skills is a great asset, just remember to ensure that you keep it about you and the value that you added and be clear in communicating your individual role within a team.
In most sales related jobs, you will be taught early on that telling is not selling, however in the art of CV writing it absolutely is. Try not to make assumptions of your reader, if you don’t state it on your CV how are they supposed to know you did it? That said, there is a balance; give enough detail that generates interest but leaves enough out that you can discuss further during an interview.
Soft skills and personality are key, but often difficult to display in a CV. You can display these in your key skills section or through hobbies, interests or additional extracurricular activities. These should go at the end of your CV and can often form interesting talking points during an interview.
Creating a CV is not a one-off task and should evolve with your career and be tailored each time you apply for a new role. Following these six simple steps should provide a framework to get you noticed, but it is important to make sure you that what you write is authentic and free from embellishments – advanced screening processes will quickly identify if information is incorrect or inconsistent.
Finally, update and maintain your online presence on sites like LinkedIn. Recruiters and employers will often use the information here as their first port of call when screening your profile and a strong combination of paper and online will position you well to stand out from the crowd.