Posted by: Jo Banks
Applying for jobs? Top tips for making 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 plus information gained from feedback during my research with recruiters and recruitment consultants during my research ‘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 biggest 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 job description/role profile or not. Either that, or even though they may have pertinent 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 role you apply for – not simply 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 that 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:
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 type face 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.
We cannot always see our own errors. Presenting a CV with mistakes speaks volumes about your attention to detail and professionalism. Therefore, it's important 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 Don’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.
If you're currently looking for your next role, and would like some professional advice on anything from getting clear about what you want from your next role to advanced interviews skills contact us for a free, no-obligation conversation about how we can help.
Visit the website for Jo Banks' first book, Thoughts Become Things now available in paperback and Kindle formats.
Visit the website for Jo Banks' new book, Land Your Dream Job Now! now available in paperback and Kindle formats.