However you spin it, CVs aren’t the most exciting things in the world with most people’s CV doing nothing to make them stand out.
For recruiters reading hundreds, (if not thousands) of CVs a week, this can mean things all start to blur into one. Even the most competent and highly skilled candidates can fall through the cracks if their CV fails to make a lasting impression.
While a CV is never going to win a Pulitzer, this doesn’t mean it has to be boring either. Below, we’ve put together some ways to keep a recruiter engaged when looking at your CV and give you the best chance at landing the job.
One of the most frustrating types of CV a recruiter will come across is a 3-page tome that fails to get to the point.
The chances are, your CV is one in a long line of documents being read that day. Assume your recruiter is tired and will spend no more than a minute or two looking over your CV.
Simply say what you mean to say and say it succinctly.
Your CV profile, for example, doesn't need a 3 line preamble about how this job fulfils your childhood ambition or lifelong dreams. Keep it short and punchy and recruiters will digest your words easier.
It's one thing to say how you improved efficiency in your last post, it's another thing to have the number to back it up. Numbers not only catch our eye but they're easily understood and are appreciated by recruiters.
Instead of explaining in-depth how you improved sales with various marketing and email campaigns, use bulleted lists. Lists are easier to read and give your figures room to breathe, letting them stand out on the page.
For example, the following says everything a recruiter needs with the numbers doing the legwork for you:
While your CV is an appropriate place to showcase your skills and achievements, try to avoid generic, jargon-filled sentences. Not only have recruiters seen this sort of thing a thousand times, but they take up valuable space on your CV.
A particularly eye-rolling example: “Highly motivated team player with a proven history of ideation, delivering results, and operationalising holistic solutions.”
Lots of words, not much meaning.
Instead of trying to word-soup your way into a job, write plainly. Using plain and simple words shows you appreciate that recruiters are busy people and don’t have time to decipher weird sentences with little relevance.
Short sentences with the right words will say a lot more in the short time you have a recruiter's attention.
Icons, skill-proficiency bars, dividing graphics, and carefully-selected font choices can all do a lot for your CV.
Choosing a unique, modern layout and design is something that can really make your CV pop. Seeing something novel naturally piques our interest and could make your recruiter pay a little more attention than they would otherwise.
There are a couple of points to consider though.
Most CVs nowadays will be filtered through an applicant tracking system (ATS) before a recruiter gets hold of it. This means you need to make sure you include important keywords and figures in your CV and don’t over-rely on graphics.
Your CV may also be printed in low-quality black and white or photocopied. This means that by the time a recruiter receives your CV, your masterpiece might not quite look the same. Make sure icons, graphics, and fonts are simple to avoid legibility issues.
For most recruiters, your profile will be their first port of call and your chance to make a good impression. If you’re going to interject any personality at all into your CV, this is the place to do it but be careful not to overdo it. A CV is still a professional document.
State clearly and proudly your achievements, using positive language that you think offers something different from the rest of the pack.
Avoid over-wordy profiles. Recruiters typically scan read and trying to quickly extract relevant information from a three-inch block of text is nobody’s idea of fun.
Having a boring CV is a serious career impediment. Following these tips will give you a better chance of getting to the next stage by grabbing recruiters’ attention.
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