As a job seeker and CV writer, your aim will be to impress the employer. Your application is going to be up against a lot of other hungry job hunters, so anything other than perfection is not going to stand a chance.
You cannot rely solely on your skills, qualifications and experience – no matter how impressive they may seem. There will likely be a lot of other candidates who hold the same or even higher credentials than you, which means it will often come down to how well the CV is presented. What is it that makes you unique? To find an answer on how to make a unique CV, visit wikijob.co.uk.
If you want to write a CV which stands out from the crowd and beats the competition hands down, here are 7 proven tips to help you succeed:
1. Create a clear structure
The hiring manager will not read each CV in detail due to the sheer amount they receive. Instead, they will give each one a quick scan to see who makes the grade. An eye-tracking study by The Ladders suggests that the amount of time spent on each CV is just six seconds. For this reason, your CV needs to have a clear structure, layout and overall presentation.
“You want potential employers to get the most information from your resume as quickly as possible”, Josh Sanburn explains to Time Magazine.
Create headings for each section and ensure there is adequate spacing. The easier your CV is to navigate the more chance you have of grabbing the reader’s attention. If you display all the relevant skills, qualifications and experience in an easy to read format, you are more likely to get through to the next stage.
2. Don’t embellish
Your CV should always be honest and accurate. Embellishing a few skills here and there sounds like a great way to advance to the interview stage, but you’ll always be caught out in the end.
“Employers are clued into the fact that some applicants are either exaggerating their experience or handing over resumes that are more fiction than fact”, explains Megan Elliott in this blog, author at The Cheat Sheet.
If you’re unable to answer any questions during the interview stage, the employer will quickly see that you are not who you claimed to be. Even if you get hired based on your credentials you could be instantly fired if found out to be lying on your application.
3. Be brief and to the point
Keep your CV brief and to the point. The hiring manager doesn’t want your life story, so always look to present your achievements and skills in a short but informative way.
“Keep your CV short, punchy and to the point,” advise the experts at leading careers website Jobs.ac.uk.
Don’t skimp too much on the detail, but don’t go overboard either. If you feel a paragraph is needed to explain something important, then keep it on topic.
A CV which lacks focus and provides lackluster information and cliché statements is not going to impress the employer. It will only serve to frustrate them before they quickly move onto the next applicant.
4. Be accessible
Your contact details need to be accurate and up to date. When typing your email address and contact number you need to triple check they are correct. With just one letter or number missing you will forever be wondering why you’re not getting a callback for an interview.
Also, ensure you are accessible and easy to contact. Provide a mobile number which either you can answer quickly or reply to any voice messages on the same day. Create a professional answer message and email address. Every point of contact the employer tries should go smoothly and sound completely professional.
5. Show your commercial awareness
Your CV needs to demonstrate commercial awareness and identify your industry expertise. The first impression your application must make is one of – ‘this person knows what they are talking about’.
One of the best ways to apply lots of commercial awareness into your CV is to conduct a lot of research on the role and the company.
“Conducting thorough research into both the company and the typical requirements for the role before you write your CV will dramatically increase your chances of landing an interview” explains Martin Carline, a career expert at CVTemplateMaster.com. “You are in a far better position to create a job application which will stand out from the pile.”
Keep up to date with current affairs and trends, and read the company’s website. Gain as much knowledge as you can on their customers and the product or service they offer.
The company will likely also have social media sites you can visit to gain even more knowledge. Overall your CV needs to align with the company’s goals and overall direction.
6. Show results
The applicant’s past performance is one of the most important aspects an employer looks for on a CV. If an application contains a lot of cliché statements without any form of evidence, it will not get very far in the process.
“This is one of the biggest mistakes job applicants make,” explains Carline. “Anyone can say they’re a great team player or have fantastic communication skills. The key is to show past achievements that prove those skills.”
Don’t just focus upon all the tasks and skills you’ve picked up along the way. How you performed and your outstanding achievements also need to be listed under your employment history section.
The employer wants to build up an understanding of how you will perform for them, and the only way you can help them with this is by providing your results. If you are applying for a sales role, then you should state your previous achievements. This includes turnover, units, contracts negotiated, and anything else which would prove your performance record.
7. Tailor your CV
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If you create just the one CV which you use to apply to different employers, you are not going to stand out from the competition. You need to show the hiring manager how much the role means to you by tailoring your CV.
“Don’t just scan the job description”, the experts at Hays Recruitment warn. Simply regurgitating the words from the job description won’t do you any favors. Hays continues: “You need to think about what the words mean in terms of day-to-day activity and how you can make your CV show that you can handle these tasks and responsibilities.”
Not only will a customised CV help the hiring manager to see that you have the matching skills and experience as advertised, you will also show how passionate and dedicated you are to the business.
Only the cream of the crop will make it to the interview stage, and a generic CV will not create a ‘stand out’ application. If you really want to stay ahead of the competition you need to take extra time to tailor your CV to the role and the business. Conduct all the research you need and ensure every single section demonstrates what you can bring to the company.