If you’re to stand any chance of progressing to the interview stage, your CV needs to hook the reader within seconds. Recruiters and hiring managers can literally receive hundreds of applications for a single role, and sometimes only have time to scan CVs before deciding whether to progress candidates to an interview.
In order to make an immediate impact, your CV will need to communicate the following information in the most succinct (yet readable) form:
Roles and responsibilities
You’ll need to tailor your CV to each particular job that you apply for, so it’s vital that the job titles and the responsibilities you include in your CV are relevant (if not a direct match) for the job on offer. Although you need to clarify your remit, it’s important than your CV offers more than just a list of your responsibilities.
Your CV will be scanned for the right kind of experience. Ensure your experience – whether six months in one role or four years in another – comes across as consistent and relevant to the job you’re applying for. Be clear where you added value, and your exact contribution to any high profile project.
Ensure you include all relevant skills gained and required of you in previous roles. Your skills will complement your experience and should ultimately illustrate your suitability for the job on offer.
Results and achievements
Hiring managers love to see results, so if you achieved above your target as a Sales Manager, for example, make sure you state your targets as amounts or percentages, and demonstrate how you’ve overachieved.
Ensure you highlight relevant educational certificates, particularly when they’ve been listed as essential or desirable in the selection criteria.
Once you’ve got the details right, your CV will need to look, feel and read well if it’s going to grab the attention of a hiring manager or recruiter quickly and effectively. To do this, make sure you pay attention to the following details:
Easy to read
Ensure the layout of your CV is clear and consistent, containing only one type of font (bold can be used to highlight). Use bullet points to outline skills, achievements, responsibilities etc. rather than rambling sentences. Spelling or grammar mistakes are to be avoided at all costs.
Ensure your CV runs in reverse chronological order, and is written as concisely as possible. Make sure there are no unexplained gaps in your work history, or inconsistencies in the responsibilities or achievements you’ve included.
Ensure you include important keywords throughout your CV. To do this, scan the job description and make sure your language mirrors it. This will create a link in the mind of the reader between you and the requirements of the role. Avoid excessive jargon and be mindful that the person reading it may not be a technical or industry expert; however they will know what to look out for.
Format and label
Ensure your CV is formatted in such a way that the recipient will be able to open it easily – no hiring manager wants to download software to view a CV. Make sure that when you save your CV you include your name i.e. Smith,John-CV in the saved title. It’s also a courtesy to keep your application under 1MB to avoid clogging anyone’s inbox.
You may possess all the desired skills and experience to excel at a role, but if don’t document them clearly in your CV; you may fall at the first hurdle in being considered for a new role.