When it comes to your CV, you have six seconds to impress. Six seconds. A busy recruiter with a trained eye can pick out the good CVs from the bad at a glance. If you want your CV to be added to the interview pile rather than dumped in the bin without as much as a second thought, you need to get it right.
So, with an average of 250 CVs put forward for each job position, what can you do to stand out from the crowd? Here are our top five tips on how to write a CV:
1. Get the basics right!
This part isn’t rocket science. There are fundamental basics that you NEED to include in your CV. These include: personal and contact information; work history and/or experience (always the most recent first!); education and qualifications; relevant skills to the job in question; own interests, achievements or hobbies; and references. If you’re missing any vital information like that, you’ll be missing out on the job opportunity.
2. Presentation is everything
You wouldn’t turn up for an interview looking shabby. So why send off your CV looking anything less than perfectly presented? Sloppy presentation will make a recruiter assume that you’re a sloppy person. You need a clear, clean, well-structured layout that is consistently formatted throughout. The CV ‘hotspot’ is the upper middle area of the first page and the place that the recruiter’s eye will immediately fall to – make sure your key information is there. When first impressions matter so much, a CV that isn’t presented well is destined straight for the bin.
3. Keep it error-free
A single spelling or grammar mistake and your CV will be disregarded. That’s not an exaggerated claim, that’s a researched statistic. Think about it – a candidate with errors in their CV is going to be judged as a candidate who’d make errors in the job role. It looks lazy, it sends the wrong message and it’s easily avoidable. There’s no point in spending time getting your sections and your presentation perfect if your content is littered with mistakes. Proof-read, proof-read again, and ask a friend to proof-read too for good measure.
4. Sell yourself!
If you don’t emphasise your skills and talent, no one else is going to. It’s not enough just to list the jobs you’ve had and the tasks you completed – you need to show how you made a positive impact in each role. Show the changes you implemented, write about the results you achieved, tell the recruiter about the progression you made and the skills you utilised or picked up. A CV that only lists your job history and your responsibilities is going to make a recruiter think “so what?” A CV with clear examples of you using your skills to make a positive difference, however, will make a strong impression.
5. Get it tailored
You can’t afford to be lazy when job-hunting. If you really want that role, you’ll tailor your CV to fit it. That doesn’t mean you need to recreate your whole CV, it means you need to emphasise the particular points and skills that will help you get considered for that position. Read the job description carefully and then research the company. Tweak your personal statement to suit the job requirement and try and align your CV to the company ethos. If you want to stand out against the hundreds of applicants you’re competing against, a generic CV won’t cut it.
Sticking to these five simple steps will ensure that you stand out for all the right reasons. Remember, a great CV is the first step in getting that great job. You can’t afford to get it wrong.