A Curriculum Vitae is the job seekers sales brochure. It should contain and showcase their best achievements, their top skills and qualifications, and a whole range of valuable work experience. But there is much more to writing a CV than simply creating an entire career history log.
Employers are looking for job seekers who take note of the requirements and offer something unique but relevant. Hiring managers will only spend a few seconds scanning through the many applications they receive, so only a select few will stand out and make it to the interview stage.
If you want to write a CV that grabs the attention of the manager and stands out for all the right reasons, then here are our top 5 ultimate CV tips.
1. Write a CV for an employer – not them all
When the time comes to send out your CV to an employer, the first thing you should consider is how tailored it is to the role and the business. It isn’t enough to assume that a focused career progression is enough to prove to them you know your stuff. There is another level you can push towards if you want to really impress.
Take a step back and look at your existing CV. Are you using an old copy and simply updating it with your most recent position? Does it offer the exact skills, qualifications and experience the company has requested in the job advert? Taking a more tailored approach is the key to success, as you should always be looking to offer a unique application that panders to the employers every wish.
Start again from scratch and re-build your CV with only one employer in mind. Research the company and find out what makes them tick – who their customers are, what product/service they provide, where they are located, what you could offer that nobody else can, what skills they require, and so on. Every company has its own unique take on a role, which means that your CV has to adjust each time and offer exactly what they want.
Write a CV that aims to address as many aspects of the role as possible and you will have a far greater chance of getting an interview. The hiring manager should be able to recognise that your CV has been written for them, and with most other job seekers taking a more lazy generic approach your application will be memorable.
2. Get to the point
On average an employer will spend around 10-30 seconds reading a CV. The initial screening process is designed to help them sort through the many applications they receive and make a quick decision on a handful. Those that are selected for the next stage will then get a more in-depth read, but your may never even get the chance if you don’t get to the point. Does your CV pass the 30 second speed test?
Following on from the tailored approach in our previous tip, you should also aim to keep things concise and as relevant as possible. There will be skills, qualifications and aspects of your career that bear little relevance to the new role, and you may want to consider letting them sit in the background or even remove them altogether.
Make sure your CV instantly gets to the point and cuts out all the waffle. Lengthy sentences and large paragraphs make it harder for the hiring manager to find what they need. Remember, with only a few seconds you have to clearly show you are suitable for the role. If the employer has to delve deeper into your credentials and figure that out for themselves, you are likely to end up on the rejected pile.
Use bullet points to list key skills, tasks, achievements, and anything else of significance. After you’ve completed your initial draft CV, try the 10 second test. Print out your CV and the job advert and give it to a friend. Ask them to read the advert and then try to pick out the most important aspects within 10 seconds of reading your CV. This is a great way of knowing if your application is concise enough and allows anyone to quickly see you are the right person for the job. If they take much longer then it’s likely you haven’t gotten to the point.
3. Explain an employment gap
Have you ever been out of work for over 3 months? If you have, then consider how this might look to an employer when they see this employment gap on your CV. Without an explanation you are leaving it up to them to decide what happened.
Gaps in employment happen for a number of reasons – personal health, gap years, caring for a family member, raising a family, going back into education, and so on. Most employers show little concern for time away from work as long as you give a good explanation. So aim to plug that gap on your CV and prevent any confusion.
Turn that employment gap into a positive by doing two things:
- Explain the gap
- Explain how it helped your career (or didn’t hinder it)
Here is an example of someone who had health issues:
Due to personal health issues I was unable to work between March and September of 2017. It was a very frustrating time for me as I love my career and missed it greatly. I am now fully recovered and even more passionate about succeeding and continuing where I left off.
Here is another example of someone that took a gap year:
I’d always wanted to travel to China and experience different cultures. After leaving university I decided to take a gap year and fulfil my dream. I visited The Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace, and much more. During the trip my confidence grew and I went from someone who found it difficult to meet new people to relishing in social groups and even taking charge of expeditions and making arrangements.
4. Be truthful
Don’t be tempted into embellishing or even lying on your CV. No matter how under pressure you are to get a job, it just isn’t worth it in the end. There are lots of ways the employer can reveal the truth throughout the whole process, and many hiring managers even suspect something isn’t quite right just from reading a CV.
The interview is usually where most people get caught out, and their inability to answer straightforward questions about their career causes doubt and confusion. Even if you trip up on one simple fact you are likely to be rejected instantly. But what’s even more difficult to face is being hired and then being found out. An employer is well within their rights to fire someone on the spot if they recognise an inconsistency with what was claimed on the CV and the actual truth.
To avoid all of the above issues we would strongly advise you focus upon the facts. It can be easy to doubt your own abilities when a few things on the job advert appear to be missing on your CV, but put that out of your mind. Instead, focus upon what you can do rather than what you can’t. If you truly believe in your own abilities and that you can do the job on offer, then trust your CV writing abilities.
An employer will not expect a CV to be able to match every single requirement perfectly. Even if they do come across one that does there is still an interview to go. Highlight your career highs and tailor your CV. Those two things alone could see you safely to the interview stage.
5. Use a CV template
Finally we come onto a tip about your presentation. Whilst most job seekers opt for the traditional black and white format, you may want to consider a more creative and unique approach. Rather than attempt to design your own CV layout you should hop over to CVtemplatemaster.com and choose from the hundreds of designs – all free to download.
If this is the first time you’ve ever come across a CV template website, then you may be surprised at what you find. You no longer have to spend hours in front of your computer staring at a blank screen wondering how you’re going to create your layout. Now all you need to do is spend a few minutes choosing the right one for you, and then simply copying your details across – it really is that easy!