How to write a CV that will get you noticed by employers
The quality of your CV can mean the difference between being stuck in a role with no prospects or being offered a great new position.
The CV has been around for hundreds of years, and over time it has changed and evolved with the world of work. Your CV is still the first thing clients ask for and will be the decider between getting an interview and being left out of the recruitment process.
As experienced recruiters, we have seen the evolution of the CV, and are sharing our top tips to get on the radar of your preferred employers.
The Purpose of a CV for Employers
Let’s start by thinking about what function your CV serves for employers.
For a start, we should point out that many business owners and managers are pushed for time, and they are looking for shortcuts in their recruitment process – they want it spelt out to them that you are the candidate they are looking for.
So to fit this requirement, your CV should be highly tailored to the employer or hiring manager that is looking after the recruitment process.
Aim to find out where possible exactly who to address your CV and cover letter to – this makes it stand out more than letters simply addressed ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and tailor your CV and cover letter specifically to the company and the role you are applying for.
All too often, job seekers send generic CVs or cover letters – these are usually the candidates who don’t get past the first round of the recruitment process.
In today’s competition-led job market, your CV needs to do the following:
Immediately capture the attention of the recruiter or employer
Illustrate how your skills and abilities clearly relate to the job description
Show how much of a culture fit you are to their organisation
Increase your chance of getting a first interview.
Your CV should be a succinct summary of why you are the ideal candidate for this role.
So let’s look at what makes the ideal CV.
Make Sure it’s Relevant
Many people include skills, knowledge and experience on their CV that, although they might be proud of, it is not relevant to this company or role.
Remember the following tips when thinking about what to include in your CV:
Make sure your CV includes everything the job advert specifies.
Use similar terminology to that found in the job advert to strike a connection with the employer or hiring manager.
If there are any areas that you don’t have the required skills, address this by demonstrating your desire to learn, which you can back up with previous examples of learning a new skill for a previous role.
Keep your CV short, and to the point. The ideal length is two pages, but it can be longer if you have lots of relevant experience.
The following are what to include in your CV to make sure it ticks all the right boxes.
Sections to Include
Remembering always to keep it relevant and avoid unnecessarily long explanations or details, structure your CV using these sections.
Personal details – make sure these are up to date, with your current address, professional email address and correct phone number.
Your personal statement – this can be a short couple of paragraphs at the top of your CV, which summarises in short why you have the skills and experience which make you an ideal candidate for this role.
Your work experience – include all of your relevant work experience, which demonstrates your ability to thrive in a similar role. Include the name of the organisation, the time you held the position for and your job title.
Achievements – give specific examples of your previous achievement, which will allow you to excel in the role you are applying for. For example: [Make it sector-specific- e.g. “I managed a kitchen team of 10 and achieved a 20% increase in sales over 3”]
Education – only include educational achievements which are relevant to the job.
Finally, let’s look at some tips to remember to create an eye-catching CV.
Top Tips for CV Design
Even with the right relevant information, your CV will still need to perform in other ways to catch the attention of the hiring manager.
The following are our top tips to get your CV noticed:
Check and double-check that your contact details are up to date – have you changed your mobile number since you created your CV?
Use a professional email address without nicknames or slang in it – if you haven’t got one, create one.
Include a link to your LinkedIn profile – the hiring manager will probably look you up online anyway, you might as well direct them to where they can find your LinkedIn profile.
Don’t include a picture on your CV – it’s an outdated concept and adds no relevance to the recruitment process.
Run your CV through spell check before you print or send it. Also, have someone – a friend or a recruiter - to check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
Choose a font that looks good, but that is clear and easy to read. Make sure the font isn’t too large or too small. Don’t use lots of different sizes or styles of font – simple is best.
Avoid cliches such as ‘go-getter’, ‘think outside the box’ and ‘multi-tasker’ when describing yourself. If you are struggling writing your CV, a specialist sector recruiter will be able to help.
Finally, let’s look at the importance of the cover letter to go with your CV.
Your Cover Letter
We often get asked whether you should include a cover letter or not – our answer is always yes!
Your cover letter is another opportunity to show you’ve researched the business and made sure that you’re appropriate for the role. Within your cover letter, you can go beyond the skills and education outlined in your CV to show that you are familiar with the company and explain a little more about yourself and why you want to apply for their vacancy.
Your CV is your chance to introduce yourself to a prospective employer or recruiting company in a meaningful way. If you can show the person looking at your CV that you match the job description as closely as possible, then you have a much higher chance of securing that all important interview.
For more information on how we can help you craft your CV, as well as find new roles for you to apply to check out these Free Resources for Job Seekers.