A good CV can be the difference between you landing that dream job or being thrown into the pile of ‘no’s’. It’s your chance to make a good first impression and it needs to be great from the start. According to The Undercover Recruiter, the average employer spends 5-7 seconds looking at a CV so you need to grab their attention.
As part of Think Employment’s Careers and Aspirations Week here are the seven best tips you need to make sure that your CV is going straight into the ‘yes’ pile.
- Make sure there are no mistakes
There’s no better way for employers to sort through CV’s than to look for glaring spelling mistakes. So, make sure that your CV contains none of them otherwise your chances of getting the job may suffer. The best way to prevent this is by getting a friend or relative to read through your CV; a different set of eyes can spot different things. The same goes for dates, make sure that no employment dates are incorrect or unintentionally overlap. In terms of your contact details, these are potentially the most important thing on the CV because if they’re wrong there’s no point even applying for the job.
- Choose the right font and size
Using the wrong font for your CV is an easy mistake to avoid. According to The Balance Careers, basic fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Calibri and Times New Roman work well but it’s always best to print out a copy of your CV even if you’re sending it over email. Employers may print out CV’s to read through them and it’s best to make sure that yours looks good on screen and paper. Size also matters, so make sure that you select a size that will be easy to read, font size between 10 and 12 should suffice.
- It’s about quality, not quantity
Reed says that 91% of recruiters that they surveyed thought that two pages were the perfect CV length. However, this is as a maximum so if you only have enough to fill one page of A4 then don’t fill the second page with points that are unrelated to the job, or even worse, don’t resort to bending the truth (see point 6) to make your CV longer. Also, start with your most impressive achievements, in order to grab the reader’s attention rather than going through your achievements chronologically. Trust me on this one, your year seven English award probably isn’t going to impress prospective employers so I’d suggest not leading with it.
- Structure is key
In order for your CV to read effectively, you have to structure it correctly. StandOut CV suggests that your CV headings should contain the following:
- Profile – An introductory paragraph
- Core Skills – A succinct summary of your main strengths
- Career History – An outline of your employment history including key responsibilities and achievements
- Education/Qualifications – List your education history and the qualifications you hold
You also need to make the different sections clearly visible so that employers can pinpoint the information they need with ease. Use bolded headings, putting borders around each section or even using blank space between sections to break them up.
- Cover Letter
The main tip when it comes to cover letters is to update it depending on the position you’re applying for and the company you’re sending your application to. Resist the urge to save time and just regurgitate a previously used, generic one. If you put in the time with your cover letter, you stand in good stead to impress your potential employer by showing your passion for the role in question and showcasing the skills you have that would benefit the company if they were to offer you the role. You can even go one step further and use numbers to back up the skills you’re claiming to have such as: ‘During my time at The Events Company I single-handedly organised over 50 events, demonstrating my clear strength when it comes to organisation’.
- Tell the truth
Possibly the easiest point to action on this page because it involves not doing something – lying. Don’t kid yourself, you will get caught out whether it’s during the interview or months down the line when you’ve finally settled into your new job. Check out this Monster article on the Biggest CV Lies which shows how aware employers are of candidates lying and how easy it is for them to check. The main thing is to be honest and if there’s anything that you’re concerned about such as a gap in employment, mention this at your interview and make sure you don’t avoid speaking about it.
- What shouldn’t you include?
Most of the points so far have been about what to include in your CV but there are certain bits of information that don’t need to be on your CV which can sometimes be classed as oversharing. You don’t need to include any mention of your current or previous salary so unless you’re asked, don’t mention it. The most common piece of information that is mistakenly included in a CV is a person’s date of birth. You now no longer need to include it on your application as it can exploit you to age discrimination. When discussing hobbies, try to include ones that are relevant to the job that you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a job in hospitality, mention that you take part in theatre productions as it shows that you have confidence in front of an audience but maybe miss out that you spend your Sundays watching Sky Sports as it’s not of particular interest to the role.
Remember – a CV should give a taste of your professional experience to an employer, it’s not a social media profile.
As part of the journey with us, our in-house recruiters will help you update/create your CV so if you need more tips call 01472 493000.