Top tips to help your CV stand out from the crowd…
Your CV is your marketing document, the first glimpse a prospective employer has of you. It’s therefore, critical to get it right if you want to land your dream job.
Throughout my 20-year HR career, I read literally thousands of CVs. The following list is a culmination of my observations together with information gained from feedback during my research with recruiters and recruitment consultants for my book, ‘Land Your Dream Job Now!’.
1 – Not tailored to the role
Not tailoring your CV to the role is THE biggest mistake you can make with applications and is the main reason for rejection. People generally think that they have to put everything they’ve ever done into their CV, regardless of whether it matches the requirements of role or not. Either that or even though they may have relevant skills and experience, they fail to evidence it adequately.
For your CV to pass through the initial selection phase, a recruiter needs to be able to see quickly and easily where your skill set and experience match those required for the role. That means revising your CV for every application – not lazily sending the same generic CV for everything. If your CV is cluttered with irrelevant information and the recruiter can’t easily see how you meet their criteria, it is likely to be rejected.
A top tip is to include a bullet point list headed ‘Key Skills’ towards the top of your CV. List here the ‘essential skills’ from the job description or person specification (you are likely to possess them; otherwise, it’s unlikely that you’d be attracted to the role). These skills should be backed up with relevant examples of your achievements within the Career/Employment History section of your CV.
2 – Too long and boring
Ideally, your CV should be no longer than two pages of A4 (I allow clients to run to two and a half when they have many qualifications). If you are struggling for space, here are some suggestions:
- Don’t include an ‘additional information/hobbies/interests’ section; it is not necessary. In fact, unless you have something pertinent and current to include for example something that matches the recruiting company’s values, e.g. studying further education, being a member of a specific club, etc., I don’t recommend including it at all. Especially if all you can put is cinema, socialising, gym and reading! It adds nothing to your CV and is a waste of precious space that could be utilised for something that will better support your application.
- For roles that are older than ten years, unless it’s your current position, you only need to put the company name, job title and dates. Everything else so long ago is likely to be irrelevant today.
- As with No 1 above, take out any information that isn’t pertinent to the role you’re applying for. That additional information you can discuss at interview. You need to be ruthless here. If it doesn’t support your application, take it out.
3 – Poor layout
When I tell clients that their CV must be two pages, I’m often presented with the same CV with tiny type font, with the margins pushed out to the very edge of the page. No, this is not what I mean by ‘keep it to two pages’. Your margins should be the regular size, and typeface should be Arial or Calibri 10/11. No bigger, no smaller.
4 – Not written in the third person
Your CV should not contain any ‘I’ ‘me’ ‘my’ ‘we’, etc., it must be written in the third person. CV’s drafted in the first person will be viewed as old-fashioned and outdated. This principle also applies to the Summary Statement or Personal Statement at the top of your CV. For some reason, clients tend to think that it’s fine to write that section in the first person, it’s not.
5 – Contain your ‘opinion’
Remove any words that can be seen opinion and can’t be backed up with evidence. I mean words like, ‘trustworthy’, ‘hardworking’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘dedicated’. Most clients are horrified when I say this, but these words are worthless, and with such a short amount of space, you need to make every word count. Clients will say, “But without using those words, the recruiter won’t be able to see my personality”. Your CV is specifically for the purpose of getting an interview, based on your skills and experience. The recruiter will find out about your personality if or when they invite you to interview.
Also avoid statements such as, ‘Works well on own and as part of a team’. I have no clue where that saying originated, but it seems to be something that the majority of people think should be on their CV. It says nothing about you and is a complete waste of space, use it to say something more original.
6 – Contain typos/mistakes
We cannot always see our own errors. Presenting a CV with mistakes speaks volumes about your attention to detail and professionalism. Therefore, it’s essential to get someone with a good command written English to review your CV. Especially if you’ve converted from first to the third person – I’ll guarantee that you will have left at least one ‘I’ in there. If you don’t have someone to help, run it through a programme such as Grammarly which will identify any immediate grammar and spelling errors.
7 – Doesn’t arrive on time
Don’t leave sending your CV until the last minute. Apart from the fact that if it doesn’t arrive by the specified deadline, it’s likely to be rejected, but when you’re under pressure due to time constraints, you are more liable to make mistakes. Take your time and where possible, get your application in at least 24 hours before the closing date.
These are just some of the most critical reasons why CVs are rejected, and all can be rectified with relative ease, it just takes a little extra time. More information and top tips on writing effective CVs are available in my book, ‘Land Your Dream Job Now’, currently available on Amazon.
Also available is my Your Dream Job FREE mini-course which is packed full of all of my top job hunting tips. Click here to find out more and sign up NOW!