One of the most frustrating aspects of job hunting is not getting a chance to give a great interview. If you are unable to impress the hiring manager with your CV you will always struggle to have the opportunity for a face to face meeting.
There are lots of job seekers out there that could ace an interview and are well qualified for a role, but fail to even make it that far because of a poorly written CV. We’ve compiled a list of the ultimate CV tips to help you reach the next step.
Here are 10 ways to create a successful CV.
1. Get to the point
An employer does not have time to read every single word or sentence of your application. They want to be able to quickly delve in and out of each one and see which make the cut. To give yourself an edge you should make sure your CV is straight to the point. It should contain zero waffle and aim to offer the employer exactly what they want.
Have a look at all of your previous jobs and see how many match up to the new role. Do you really need to list all of those tasks and duties? Probably not, and you could instead focus upon the ones that do and use your two pages wisely.
Make use of bullet points to list things like tasks and achievements. The eye can read bullet pointed lists much easier than lengthy sentences and paragraphs.
Use the personal statement to best effect. This is a short summary that goes at the top of the page (under your name, address and contact info) explaining who you are and why you’re a great fit for this role. It’s nothing like a uni personal statement (it’s at least 425 words shorter for a start) so don’t get it mixed up with whatever you wrote for your uni application! The CV personal statement is concise and a great way to hit an employer with your best selling points in just a few seconds.
To help ensure you create a relevant CV it’s important to customise it to the role and the company. The wrong approach would be to use the same CV for your entire career and simply update it with your last job. Instead, use your old CV to transfer the important details across, but start again completely from scratch with a blank page.
This will help ensure you keep it fresh and up to date, whilst focusing on the company’s needs. Every organisation is different, no matter how similar the job titles may be. So do your research online and read the job advert to find out exactly what they want. A tailored CV has a far better chance of getting you an interview. The hiring manager would be impressed by your passion and dedication! Here’s how to tailor your CV for interview success.
3. Plug the gaps
Having a gap in your work history timeline could create all sorts of issues. The employer has to decide for themselves why you were out of work, and they are likely to assume the worst. This is why you should always plug an employment gap of at least 2-3 months.
Were you out of work because of personal health issues? Did you have to take time away to help a family member? Did you start a family and are now getting back into a career? These are all perfectly normal reasons for being unemployed and you shouldn’t shy away from explaining this.
All you need is a brief explanation in your work history timeline, or you could even discuss it within a cover letter. This will then allow the employer to focus upon more important details and move on.
For a more detailed guide on how to explain an employment gap – What’s the best way to explain an employment gap on your CV?
4. Write a personal statement
Whilst a personal statement or profile isn’t a mandatory requirement of a CV, it is often seen as such amongst employers. They like to have a little introduction to help connect the dots between your skills, qualifications, experience and the job.
Some job seekers ignore this because they feel it’s a little cheesy and potentially unnecessary, but it has become an integral part of the application and helps to personalise what is typically quite a formal process. Don’t skip this part and make as much effort with this section as you would any other on your CV. Every word you write paints a picture and must keep a positive tone.
Here’s what to include in your personal statement.
5. Track your progress
As the years roll on and you get comfortable within a job it’s easy to forget anything significant you might achieve along the way. We don’t usually consider this until we decide to apply for a new job, and by that time it’s usually too late to remember anything – or certainly not the specifics.
Always track your progress and never assume you will be in the same job for the rest of your career. No matter how happy you are, there will always be something that will come along and shake things up a little. You could be made redundant or just decide that you need to have a change. No matter what the reason, you will be glad that you’d made detailed notes about your progression – promotion, training courses, new skills, and so on.
One of the most important reasons to track your progression is to also make notes of your achievements. Again, it can be very difficult to recall certain facts and figures surrounding the accolade, and this would be very important to include on your CV.
6. Include numbers
To create a more credible and believable CV you need to include numbers wherever possible. It isn’t enough to state that you were the top salesman for 2016 if you don’t back that up with cold hard facts. It would be much more beneficial to the hiring manager if you were to include the total units and revenue.
A significant achievement, award or accolade should always be backed up with specific details. So that could be with numbers, stats, figures, and graphs. If there are no numbers to share, then go for an explanation. Tell a little story and help the hiring manager understand how and what you achieved. This creates a more credible application.
7. Be honest
It may be tempting to embellish or even tell a few white lies on your CV, but you must avoid this at all costs. It isn’t fair to represent your credentials in a false way, and the employer should be able to base their decision on facts and not fiction.
There are lots of problems this can cause. First of all, the hiring manager may be able to tell that you are embellishing just from reading your CV. You will probably never know why you keep getting rejected and rarely make it to the interview stage. Secondly, if you do make it to the interview you will probably get caught out. The interviewer will be asking tough questions to test the validity of your claims. Any hint or indication that you are lying will be spotted and you will have wasted yours and the employer’s time.
Lastly, if you do get hired based on your credentials you could be fired once you’re found out. If you are not able to put your claims into practice then you will always struggle in the role. Depending on the severity of the falsehood, the employer could fire you on the spot if they find that you’ve lied on your CV.
8. No mistakes
CV mistakes can come in all shapes and sizes – from spelling and grammar, to font size and spacing. Everything has to be perfect if you want to boost your chances of getting an interview. There are very few employers out there that will forgive you for even the tiniest of mistakes, because they have so many other flawless applications to choose from.
Avoiding mistakes is your number one priority, and all your hard work will have gone to waste. Ask a friend, colleague or family member to check your CV before it goes off. Ideally you want to find someone that has experience with reading applications and could also offer some advice on the content as well.
9. Use a CV template
A large part of the CV writing process relies on your ability to create a great looking design and layout. How confident are you that your abilities hold up to the task?
Be honest and ask yourself how creative are you? There is however another way to ensure your CV looks great, and that’s to let someone else do it for you. There are lots of websites that now offer free CV templates that you can download. They are very simple to use and will allow you to copy your details across.
Searching through the many hundreds of CV template designs on offer will feel a bit like window shopping. But make sure you make a wise choice and don’t go for something too wacky. Find something which is both professional and unique. It could have a little colour or maybe a font that you’ve never used before, but make sure it’s still appropriate for your profession.
A career in law would probably require a more formal and traditional approach, whilst a career in graphic design would benefit greatly from a colourful creative approach – so choose wisely!
10. Match keywords
Writing a brand new CV each time you apply will ensure that you address as many key points as possible. This tailored approach is a proven success, but there is also one more final thing you can do – use keywords.
Within your CV you should aim to match as many keywords as possible from the job advert. You can also write a commercially aware CV by using industry jargon and recognised keywords and phrases. But most of the words you will ever need to match are contained with the job advert, and you can use these to catch the eye of the hiring manager.
Pay close attention to the types of words they use for the important skills and qualifications. If you hold these skills, personal attributes or qualifications but your current CV version has slightly different wording, then why not change them to match. It’s a quick and easy way of letting the employer know you are on the same page and you understand what’s required.