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CV Advice - How to Make a Big Impact

Matthew Williams

A CV is your chance to make a great first impression and land the all-important job interview. A good CV will list your experience, qualifications, and key skills in an easy-to-read format with the most pertinent information standing out.

Crafting a good CV takes a little time and effort, with an understanding of what to include. We’ve listed the best CV advice below then to know what’s relevant, help you avoid some pitfalls and stand out from the crowd.

Format and style

Most hiring managers and employers will receive hundreds of applications for each and every role advertised, so it can be important to keep it short, get to the point, and make your CV scannable. That is, a recruiter should be able to grasp the most important information by simply glancing through your CV. This demonstrates an understanding on your part of what recruiters are looking for, something that can help your acceptance chances.

●      Keep your CV down to 1-2 pages

●      Use a readable, professional-looking font

●      Use subheadings and bullet points to break up content

●      Remove excess whitespace

●      Save your CV as a PDF

●      Use your name followed by the word “CV” as a filename

Keep it relevant

While a recruiter may have a passing interest in the fact you came first place in the egg and spoon race in Year 4, if it's not relevant to the role you're applying for, leave it out.  

Firstly, remove the phrase "curriculum vitae" from your CVs heading and simply replace it with your name. You can also trim the fat from your contact details and include just your email address and your phone number. For most recruiters, this is enough with your full home address already on a system or irrelevant at this stage. Removal of these can make your CV look cleaner and less busy.

Sections you will want to include in your CV are:

●      Professional profile: Often the first port of call for recruiters when scanning CVs, your profile should succinctly detail your main achievements, qualifications and experience with the intention of making them consider you as a candidate. Be sure to customise this for each and every job role you apply for and not to exceed 90-120 words.

●      Education and qualificaitons: Recruiters want to know your formal education, but don't necessarily need to know your complete academic background. Instead list your most recent qualifications and education in reverse order so the most important information comes first.

●      Employment history: Listing your former employment is a chance to show you have pertinent skills and experiences that can help in the role you are applying for. Your work history should list the jobs you've held and the skills and responsibilities of each.

●      Core skills and competencies: This section is a chance to list out some skills that can give you the edge over the competition. These should include both hard and soft kills that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

●      Interests: Hiring managers want to know about you and your interests to see if you will be a good fit for their company. The interests section is not as important as other sections of your CV but gives you the chance to reveal a little more about your personality providing you’ve ticked all other relevant boxes. Keep these relevant and specific.

Customise your CV for the role

You will want to rewrite your CV for each role you apply for to make sure your application is suitable. There’s no need to start from scratch each time, simply rewrite, remove, and add to your CV making sure to keep the current job opening in mind.

To tailor your CV, simply follow these simple steps:

  1. Look closely at the job description: Take note of required qualifications, the description, and look out for repeated phrases or words that might be important.
  2. Compare your existing CV: Look at your CV in its current form and consider which sections need updating.
  3. Rework your profile: Begin by updating your professional profile, rewriting it to reflect the requirements of the role you’re applying for. Showcase your most relevant skills and experience.
  4. Update your work experience: Hiring managers are especially interested if you have relevant professional experience so be sure to include anything that you may not have included when listing your work history’s responsibilities.
  5. Update other sections: Be sure to look at your CV’s other sections, making sure the soft and hard skills included relate to the job’s description.

After updating your CV, carefully proofread it to catch any mistakes you may have introduced and all unnecessary information is removed.

Use facts, figures, and real metrics

A way to make a big impact with your CV is to use real, measurable results to prove you are a qualified candidate with experience. Performance-related facts and figures grab the attention of recruiters and demonstrate what you would be capable of in a similar role.

Results that recruiters like to see include money, size, department goals, bottom lines, and metrics such as sales and new clients. What you should include will depend on the job description and you’ll want to use these results in both your work history and your professional profile.

For example, within your work history section, you could include a series of provable results such as:

April 2018 - March 2021 Digital marketing Consultant
❖    Improved traffic for leading automotive company’s website by 40% over 12 month period.
❖    Established 12 new client contracts in 2020.
❖    Collaborated with the non-digital marketing department to develop a campaign that generated £60,000 in revenue.

Include relevant keywords

One of the more recent developments in the world of CVs and job recruitment is the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These are software solutions that automatically sift through applications looking for keywords and qualifications that are relevant to the job role advertised.

A lot of employers use ATS software to handle the large amount of applications they receive and if your CV does not include the right information, it may not be further processed.

To give yourself the best chance, therefore, be sure to study the job description carefully and look out for repeated words and phrases that seem of importance. These are likely keywords that the software will scan for in CVs.

If the job description states you need “3+ years experience” be sure to use this phrase somewhere in your CV. Similarly, be sure to include the exact wording that the advertisement uses for the role. While you may consider yourself a bookkeeper, if the role is described as “accountant,” use that term.

Things to avoid...

Grammar and spelling errors

Mistakes in your spelling and grammar are signs to a potential employer that you lack an eye for detail and could ruin your chances. Run your CV through a spellchecker and grammar assistant and be sure to proofread it carefully before submitting.

A bloated interests section

Your interests section should be very brief. A recruiter is more interested in your professional qualifications and formal education that make you suitable for the role. This section, then, should be used as a way to show your interests align with your career and further ambitions.

Over-exaggeration and lying

Importantly, don’t lie on your CV. Recruiters are experts at determining if candidates possess the right skills and qualifications for a role and any over-embellishments or straight up lies are likely to be caught. Should you somehow make it through the recruitment process based on a false CV, you are also likely to face increased anxiety and stress as you move through the application process.

Are you looking for more information on CV Advice? We can provide you with top tips to help make sure your CV is to a high quality standard! At The UK Careers Fair, we host recruitment events throughout the United Kingdom in 50+ locations. Check out our full schedule.

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