With recruiters reportedly spending little more than 7 seconds scanning CVs and the average job vacancy attracting hundreds of applications, it’s never been more important to make a good first impression.
As your CV is the first introduction most employers will have of you, it’s your best (and sometimes only) chance to sell your skills, experience and accomplishments. Here are our tips to make your CV stand out in the recruitment process.
Introduce yourself with a short personal statement
The first place a hiring manager will look is at the top of your CV, therefore, make it memorable with a compelling personal statement that makes them want to keep reading the rest of your CV.
By summarising essential skills and experiences in a few brief and direct sentences, you increase your chances of grabbing the attention of busy recruiters and landing that covered interview.
Your personal statement should include:
- Who you are: a recent graduate, experienced project manager, etc.
- What you have to offer: this can include years of experience and a few accomplishments
- Your career aims: explain what you’re looking for in your next role (career growth, skills development, industry change, etc.)
Tailor your CV to the job description
It can be tempting to use the same CV for every job application to save time, but this cookie-cutter approach is unlikely to land you interviews.
Employers want to see that you understand the role you’re applying for and how your skills, experiences and qualities make you a suitable candidate.
You can demonstrate this by studying the job description carefully and making a list of everything they value. Then, use this list to highlight relevant skills and experience in your CV. For example, if a company values leadership skills, you can highlight examples of situations where you led on projects or initiatives.
Focus on accomplishments, not tasks and responsibilities
When reading through your CV, most employers are looking for proof that you have experience in the role you’re applying for. By only listing tasks and responsibilities for previous roles, you give employers little indication of your skills and competencies.
Demonstrate the impact you’ve had in each by quantifying your achievements:
- Money: if you managed money, increased profits, or cut costs, use specific amounts to highlight that information.
- Time: showcase time management skills with examples of how you completed work on time to increase efficiency.
- People: use specific numbers when writing about the people you managed or clients you worked with.
If you get stuck, you can use the ‘Challenge, Action, Results’ (CAR) formula, where you consider the challenges or problems faced in each role, the actions you took and the results of your efforts.
Structure and format your CV correctly
A busy CV can mean that your application is overlooked by ATS (Automated Tracking Systems) and recruiters. Therefore, it’s important to structure your CV in a way that draws attention to the most important information, including name and contact details, personal statement, work experience, education, skills, courses and certifications and any other relevant sections (internships, extracurricular activities, volunteer experience), depending on the role you’re applying for.
A good way to break up your CV is to use section headings and bullet points rather than complete sentences. Clear spacing and readable fonts (e.g. Ariel, Calibri or Times New Roman) will also make sure that your CV is scannable and recruiters can quickly pick out important information.
Further CV tips with regards to formatting include using professional templates. As the design and layout are already in place, you can focus your attention on the contents of your CV.
Keep your CV to the recommended length
Unless you’re applying for an entry-level position or you have little work experience, the recommended length for a CV is 2 A4 pages. The only exception is if you’re writing an academic CV, where you’re expected to include detailed information about your qualifications, research, teaching experience and publications.
As you’ll be tailoring your CV for each job application, you only need to include recent and relevant experience and skills. This means omitting work experience from more than fifteen years ago and bundling positions held at the same company, where possible.
It’s also important to avoid repetition and use your cover letter to expand on your work experience and achievements or explain any gaps in your employment.
Make it easy for recruiters to contact you
This may be a simple detail, but many candidates forget to include a phone number or e-mail address in their contact details.
If a hiring manager is interested, they’ll want to reach out to clear up any misunderstandings or to set up an interview. Make it easy for them by including a mobile number you can always answer and an e-mail address that looks professional (one that contains your first and last name is best).
When including links to social media profiles (LinkedIn), make sure these are up-to-date and don’t contain anything that you don’t want employers to see.
Proofread your CV
Before sending your CV, a critical last step to take is to proofread it. Typos, misspellings or poor grammar can all undo your hard work and convey poor attention to detail.
Even if you’re using a spellchecker, it’s easy to overlook mistakes. Make sure you have the right country setting for your spellchecker and take the time to read through your CV carefully.
A good tip is to print out your CV and proofread it line by line, word by word, marking any changes with a coloured pen as black ink can be easy to miss. Alternatively, you could ask someone else to review your CV. A second pair of eyes is often better than one and they can also check whether your CV reads well.
Text supplied by: Jobseeker