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1. Have an honest, concise CV
A two-page CV should be sufficient for most roles. Some more technical roles may need a third page. You have between 5-10 second to capture the attention of a recruiter so if you have several pages you can easily be discarded. Your CV & Covering Letter are a ticket to interview so keep it punchy, to the point, and although you need to display your skills, knowledge, experience and personality the finer details can be saved for the interview.
2. Think who your CV is going to?
Recruiters see a covering letter and it is entitled "I am keen to join your administration team to support the Nursing unit" when the role is for a bank. It is a very simple mistake to make but absolutely guaranteed to have you firmly in the "No" pile. Your CV and covering letters need to be matched closely to the role - no one wants a lazy worker or someone who doesn't have good attention to detail and not taking this time out is likely to indicate this. Work out which areas of your CV match and highlight these to the recruiter.
Recruiters take a CV and they take a job description and person specification and they match. Any help you can provide the decision-maker in this process - by adjustments to your cv relevant to the role - is highly likely to work in your favour.
You are the best person for the job, or you wouldn't be applying... just highlight why really clearly and the recipient will share the same viewpoint!
4. Don't leave potential employers guessing about employment history
If you have a gap and it is unexplained it looks wrong. You may have very good reasons for a gap but again the more information you have about this gap then the easier the decision on not moving you to the no pile is easier. If the gap is a recent gap, as many people have, explain what you have been doing in the interim. Voluntary work, training courses & anything relevant that makes it seem that there is no "Gap" is a good move.
5. Is everything up to date?
As your career develops it is worth updating your CV twice a year. Successes are often forgotten and often the point people go to write their CV or apply for a new job is when things are not going so well. It is important to capture the good things at the time the happen and keep a note so that if things do start to slope off in your working partnership you have positive items to discuss in interview.
6. Spelling & Grammar
The market is highly competitive due to the recession. Recruiters are dealing with a mass migration of public to private sector and the pile of applicants per role is large. With this in mind if you get through first sift in layout and relevant work history closer inspection will review more of the detail.
Typical mistakes are:-
|-||Have you got the email address right? If not, the message could bounce back and end up in your junk mail. It’s best to cut and paste the contact from the job ad.|
|-||If you’re sending out a lot of emails make sure you’ve got the right name, for the right company, for the right address.|
|-||Remember to attach your CV (and any other files you’re required to send).|
|-||Make sure attached files are saved in a format the recipient can open. For instance, you might have created your CV on a Mac which could cause problems for PC users.|
|-||Provide a helpful subject line – the job reference number, for instance.|
|-||Emails from an unknown sender can be blocked as spam. If you don’t get an email confirmation, wait a few days and then call to make sure your application arrived.|
|-||You should be using a professional email address, not something you set up as a student and should now be thoroughly ashamed of.|
|-||Finally, check and check again for spelling and grammatical errors – obvious, but crucial.|
7. Your Achievements
These can be numeric but in some jobs are more about what value the achievements had for the immediate and wider business. Do detail what impact the achievements you had made. Give enough detail so that an interview will want to probe more to see how you did what you did and more importantly the reason why the way you approached it makes the difference in having you against the other candidates.
8. Make it look good
We live in a world where image is everything, and that also goes for your CV. Take some time to pretty it up... Use bullet points and keep sentences short. Use the graphic design trick of leaving plenty of white space around text and between categories to make the layout easy on the eye.
9. Make it keyword friendly
If you’ve uploaded your CV to a job site so recruiters can find you, keywords are very important. Job titles and job buzzwords will help a search engine pick out your CV from the pile. Confused? Don't be. A marketing candidate might mention SEO (Search Engine Optimization), direct marketing and digital marketing among their experience and skills, for example... If you're not sure, have a search online and see what words are commonly mentioned when you input your job title.
10. Be confident about what you have put on your CV
If you want to have credibility then ensure you only put things on our CV that have happened. It is very easy to be rejected because the instinct of the interviewer as a result of an "extension of the truth" or a blatant lie is exposed in the interview. You feel the temperature in the room change, the interviewer seems a bit keener to get through the questions and generally it isn't pleasant for either side so be prepared to expand on your CV in interview - after all that is what a CV is - a ticket to interview.
For further information on how to format your CV chose an option below:-