Your CV is a crucial part of the job application process. It acts as your shop window, highlighting your skills, qualifications, and experiences to potential employers. A well-crafted CV can be the deciding factor in whether you are shortlisted for an interview over other candidates.
Therefore, it is essential to take the time to create a well-written and polished CV that effectively showcases your qualifications and experience.
When starting your job search, do you simply add your latest experience to your CV and then use this for every role you apply for? Or do you scrutinise your CV against the requirements of each job and tailor it accordingly?
If you follow the blanket approach to one CV fits, then this may be stopping you from getting through the first step of the application process. Employers want to see where your skills can add value and meet their requirements.
Below we highlight 8 tips for creating that killer CV that will impress future employers and give you a head start in the job application process.
(1) Tailor your CV to the specific job and company you are applying to.
Most importantly, a generic CV won’t do you any favours. Every job is different and has different requirements for skills and experience, so your CV needs to be tailored as such.
It’s important that you understand the job you are applying for and what the employer is looking for in who they hire.
So, before you even start writing your CV, research the job and industry you are applying for. Then, tailor your CV to the specific job by highlighting the skills and experience that are most relevant to the position and how you would be a good fit for the role. Really understand the core elements of the job you are applying for and ensure your CV showcases what you can do for each of these.
Yes, tailoring your CV for every role is more time-consuming, particularly when you are job hunting and churning out job applications regularly, but it is worth investing time to ensure that your CV stack up against other applications.
(2) Use a clear and professional format.
Hiring managers don’t have time to read every CV they receive in detail. Using subheadings, and bullet points and making the format clean and clear will help Hiring Managers easily scan through your CV and pick out key information against what they are looking for.
Don’t make the font size too small (a font size of 11 is ideal!) and keep it consistent throughout.
Use line spacing to help keep your CV looking clean and easy to read.
Use a standard font – Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, etc… (no comic sans or script text please!)
Ensure your CV has clear sections to enable the hiring manager to easily find information.
Use free online CV templates, if necessary, to help keep your formatting on point.
(3) Highlight your most relevant work experience.
Your career history is likely to take up the bulk of your CV. You need to summarise all your experiences clearly and concisely.
Over your career, you have probably picked up lots of different skills, but are they all relevant to the role you are applying for? Make sure you are highlighting the most relevant skills and experiences on your CV.
Detail all your past roles, starting with the most recent. Include your role, the company, and dates of employment (months and years). When detailing what your role entailed focus on the experience that is most relevant to the job you are applying for. Highlight your accomplishments and responsibilities in previous roles. Use numbers and statistics to evidence your accomplishments. This will help the employer understand the scope of your experience and the impact you have made in previous roles.
Use strong, specific words that clearly and effectively communicate the actions you took and the results you achieved. Action verbs, such as "managed," "led," "created," or "improved," indicate a specific action you took while using powerful language, such as "substantially," "dramatically," or "significantly," emphasises the magnitude of your accomplishments.
Many companies are using software to scan CVs for keywords related to the job to help them filter through applications. Therefore, ensure you include keywords relevant to the job and industry in your CV. This will increase your chances of making it through the initial screening process and being earmarked for an interview.
(4) Include relevant education and certifications.
List your recent and highest level of education and certifications. Arrange the entries in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent.
Keep as concise as possible but ensure you get across the key elements of your education (particularly anything relevant for the job you are applying for) and any certifications.
Depending on the level of role, and the length of your experience – where possible, stick to the more industry-related education (ie, Bachelor's Degree, Masters Degree, Diploma, Doctorate, etc…) and certifications (ACCA, CIMA, CIM, LPC, etc.)
(5) Keep it concise.
You want to impress, we get that – you want the job - and you have a lot to say about what you can do and want to make sure all your skills and experience are covered in your CV.
CVs should be no longer than 2 pages in length. Hiring managers do not have the time to look through pages and pages of career history and experience and many will look unfavourably on CVs longer in length.
The key is to get the right information (relevant to the role) captured as concisely as possible.
As we have covered previously, ensuring you understand the role for which you are applying will help determine which skills and experience you should cover.
Don’t forget, if you impress with your CV, the next stop could well be an interview which will give you an opportunity to expand on the information you supplied in the application process.
(6) Proofread, proofread, proofread.
An important step that is often overlooked. You have spent a lot of time fine-tuning your CV, ensuring your experience and skills match the job description so don’t fail on this critical step.
Read it through, read it again, read it aloud, get someone else to read it… and check for typos and grammatical errors. A missing full stop, or a misspelled word, will likely be picked up by the hiring manager and this is their first impression of you, so you must spend some time perfecting your CV before you attach it to an application.
You could be lucky, and it may not stop you from progressing in the process, but if one of the requirements of the job is “quality focus” or “an eye for detail”, having something simple like a typo or grammatical error in your CV, you may need to think quick to explain that in your interview.
(7) Add a personal statement/summary.
Your CV holds a lot of information about you, and CVs are often skim read if there are numerous applications for a particular job. Hiring Managers will want to sort through the good from the bad as quickly as possible, so it is a good idea to add a personal statement or summary as a brief introduction to you and your skills at the top of your CV. This statement should highlight your most relevant qualifications and experience for the role you are applying for compellingly and should be reviewed and adapted for each role you apply for. This can help the employer quickly see what skills and experience you are bringing to the table and why you would be a good fit for the role. A well-written statement will go some way to helping you stand out from the crowd. Update your CV regularly: Keep your CV up to date with your latest qualifications and experience. This will make it easier for you to apply for new jobs in the future.
(8) Keep your CV up to date.
You spend a lot of time crafting the perfect CV, use it to get the job, and then it sits there untouched until you are ready to start looking for your next career opportunity. But after a period of time in your current role, particularly if you have been there for multiple years, can you remember all your accomplishments?
It’s good practice to keep your CV up to date regularly – ensure achievements, job role changes, and promotions are recorded. Any key highlights, milestones, and projects you have worked on are added in. This way when you are ready to make the move you are in a good place to make some quick updates to your CV rather than having to update it from a standing start and having to recall experiences you want to include.
In our everyday world as recruiters, we come across lots of CVs, through direct applications and job boards – some are good, others less so. Our job as recruiters is to portray our candidates in the best light to their potential employers and having a CV that stands up to the rigorous scrutiny of the job application process will set you a part from others.
We understand that getting the CV right can be difficult and CV writing is a skill in itself, but by following these proven tips, you can create a CV that effectively showcases your qualifications and experience, and increases your chances of landing your next job.
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