Your CV is your personal advertisement and the one opportunity you have to make a positive first impression on a potential employer. Even if you spend hours agonising and perfecting it, that may still not be enough to get you that all-important interview.
As a hiring manager, HR manager or recruiter, you see a lot of CV’s. And we mean a whole lot.
Looking at so many, it can quickly seem like one CV looks the same as the next. Research shows that, on average, it takes less than 10 seconds to look at a CV to decide if the candidate is suitable. This means you have 10 seconds of attention in which to show not only that you are right for the role, but also the best choice.
So how do you make your CV stand out from the rest?
Read on for our top tips.
Do your research
Before you write a CV or cover letter, have a good look at the ad.
Copy all of the keywords and skills and write a list of any jobs, experience and attributes you have that line up with these. Once you have your list, make sure you use your examples to highlight your suitability.
Skill = customer service experience
Job = waitressing
Highlight = Whilst I was at university, I worked several hospitality roles, which allowed me to hone my customer service skillset whilst dealing with an extensive array of individuals.
Even if the role you learned the skills in is not relevant, the skills themselves are transferable. Don’t be afraid to highlight them.
Start with the important information
As much as every CV template in the world starts off with the basics, in reality, you have about 10-20 seconds to catch the hiring manager’s interest – don’t waste that time with the basics. If you have the right experience – show it. If you have the attitude and desire to learn – say it.
Please don’t hold important information until the end of your CV because chances are, no one will read it.
Stick to what is relevant
Whilst you might have five university degrees and twenty previous jobs, you need to ask yourself – is that relevant? Don’t be afraid to leave out information that isn’t pertinent to the role.
You might be scared to leave gaps in your CV, and rightly so – a brief heading will do if the role is not relevant or an outline of why there is a gap.
Write a personalised, individual cover letter for each role – but only when it is requested.
This is a big one. Some employers love cover letters, and others won’t even read them.
You must provide a cover letter if the job ad asks for one, but we don’t recommend automatically including one if it is not requested.
The order in which a potential employer will read your documents can vary, and each document can either encourage the other to be read or prevent it.
A brief outline of the skills and attributes you possess that are relevant to the role, one or two pertinent examples and a personalised message about why you want or would suit the role is enough information.
Steer away from generalised, fluffy information such as “I’m a team player” – this should be reflected in your CV. Focus on your core attributes and your personal reason for wanting this particular job.
Be short, concise, clear and personalised in your cover letter, and you will not go wrong.
Spelling and Grammar check.
Check it once or twice, run it through Grammarly and then get a friend to check it.
You would be surprised at how many spelling and grammatical errors make their way into CV’s.
Spelling might seem like a minor issue, and for many jobs, it is. But this becomes important when you are up against someone else who is a similarly attractive candidate – this is when spelling and good grammar can give you the tiny edge you need to get past the first stage.
Our number one tip for a successful CV
Register with a recruitment agency. As recruiters, we know what our clients look for in a resumé. We know what they do and don’t like, and if formatting a resumé was an Olympic sport…well, you get the picture.
As recruiters, we must match our clients with the perfect candidate. If you apply for a role we advertise, your application is received along with several other candidates whose resumés we briefly consider.
If, on the other hand, you register with us, we have the opportunity to get to know you before your dream role comes up. That means we know you, not your CV, and we can make sure that the client gets to know you too.