If there’s an uncomfortable fact we’re all familiar with, it’s that you usually don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. When you’re applying for jobs, this becomes even more evident, with recruiters spending on average no more than 6 seconds scanning a resume. With this in mind, we’ve pooled together our top 8 CV tips to make sure you make a great first impression, every time!
1. Make your CV easy to find with strong keywords
Boost your CV to the top of the pile with some cleverly-placed keywords. Recruiters use Google-style search engines to comb through the cloud, which filter CVs by the type of keywords they contain. “Your use of keywords makes a massive difference” says our IT & Digital consultant Sophie Nixon. “Be as specific as possible!” With this in mind, optimize your CV by doing these three things:
• Put your most recent job title in your profile, e.g. “experienced Marketing Manager”
• Use industry-specific jargon in your skills section, e.g. “proficient in the use of Sage”
2. Make sure it’s the right way around
On that note, make sure that your most recent roles are at the top of your CV! “Putting your oldest role first is hugely detrimental.” says Senior Lead Technical and Engineering Consultant Julia. “If you’re applying for a senior role and the first thing you’ve listed is an apprentice role from 10 years ago, that makes it incredibly unlikely the software will pick you up.”
Putting your most recent roles first will make it easier for CV-combing engines to find you and for recruiters to see how relevant your experience is at a glance.
3. Showcase your abilities with dynamic language
Make a splash! You need to sound like a dynamic, energetic person who’s going to send your future employer’s profits through the roof. With this in mind, how you describe your duties in your previous roles makes all the difference. To demonstrate, which of these two HR Managers would you rather hire? Person A, who lulls us to sleep with the information that …
• It was my duty to make sure staff absences were kept to a minimum.
Or Person B, who showcases his all-round awesomeness by saying he…
• Reduced staff absences by 10% over 9 months.
So, to be more like Person B, follow these 3 steps:
• List quantifiable achievements instead of duties, where you can.
• Begin the sentence with a verb (e.g. “reduced”) instead of using a longer, more passive and roundabout phrase (“to make sure staff absences were kept to a minimum”).
4. Keep it concise at 2 pages maximum
Unless you’re applying for a director-level role, your CV shouldn’t need to take up more than 2 pages. In all likelihood, your most recent roles will be the most relevant to the role you’re applying for now and you don’t need to go into excessive detail about these either. “Try and just include the most relevant information.” says our Commercial Consultant, Kirsty. “Just put the most important information first in a role and try to cut out anything unnecessary.”
How do you decide which pieces of information about your previous roles you should keep? That brings us on to our next tip…
5. Tailor your CV to the role you’re applying for
This could be tricky if you’re simply sending a speculative CV. But if you’re applying for a specific role, try and tailor it as much as possible. Recruiters will want to see that you have been there, done that and got the T-shirt, so to speak. With this in mind, order your skills and duties/achievements along the same lines as the role’s advertised requirements. You should also think of the tone that the advert was written in. Was it formal? Or fun? Try and mimic the style without going overboard to show you’ll fit in at their workplace.
6. Make it easy to skim-read with defined categories
Define your profile, education, key skills and employment history into clear categories to make it easily readable. Try using a bold text or underlining to make clear separations between these parts of your CV, for extra points.
7. Use a professional file name
So you’ve interspersed the most relevant industry keywords, injected your language with a bit of energy and presented it beautifully … now all you need is the final finishing touch. Demonstrate some of that awesome “attention to detail” of yours with a slick and professional file name, like “CV [Your name].” “CV for Auto Ltd Draft 2” may be a great name for categorising CVs on your personal desktop but for the final send-off, you might need something else!
8. Proofread like a pro
A tip from the pros: take a brain break before you click “send” to go and do something else, then revisit your CV. This will give you a fresh outlook on what you’ve written and make it 10X easier to spot any mistakes. It may be tempting to proofread straight away, but don’t give in! Your brain will still be in “writer” mode and will be very hard to convince that you could possibly have made any errors. So go and do that laundry! Then revisit.
Need some extra help? When you sign up with Prime Appointments, our consultants will give you free advice on how to write and structure your CV so it highlights your main selling points. For more information, give us a call on 01376 502999 or send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.