Sell your hard skills effectively with these CV writing tips.
How much time does a recruiter spend reviewing a potential hire? 60 seconds? 30 seconds? 10 seconds?
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of job seekers are granted even less. On average, employers only spend about six seconds reviewing a CV before making the initial decision on a candidate. So what’s the key to securing an interview? Having a well-written, compelling CV.
Here are 8 tips for writing your ideal CV.
1. Start your CV with a branding statement.
Rather than beginning with a traditional objective statement, consider using a branding statement to make your CV stand out. What’s the difference? An objective statement only allows the job seeker to describe his or her talents in relation to a particular position. A branding statement, on the other hand, doesn’t focus on a particular position or industry. Instead, it allows the job seeker to sum up his/her talents and translatable skills in one definitive sentence.
Here’s an example of an objective statement: “Talented social media marketing professional seeks position as an associate at a small to medium size clothing retailer.”
Now here is a branding statement for the same job seeker: “Fashion savvy social marketing wiz with experience running successful marketing campaigns incorporating Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.”
Cleary one is more descriptive than the other, but what does this mean to potential employers? In the past, human resources personnel posted jobs with the sole intent of filling a single position. While this is still frequently the goal today, more and more companies are seeking out talent and will create a place for well-qualified individuals within their organizations if the candidate is a good fit. Start your CV with a branding statement to show how you could be a valuable asset to your target companies.
2. Use key words that match the job description
Most job search websites allow their users to search for positions by keywords. They also offer the same feature to employers looking to hire new talent. If you find that searching certain keywords return results that interest you, incorporate those keywords into your CV. This will catch the eyes of recruiters. It won’t guarantee that you will be asked to come in for an interview, but it will probably put your CV at the top of their list.
This isn’t the only reason you should be using keywords, however. Many companies today use preliminary software that targets specific words and phrases in order to determine which CVs should be flagged for further review. If you strategically place keywords in your CV, there’s a better chance it will be forwarded on to a breathing HR professional.
3. Customize your CV for the potential position
There’s no rule that you must submit the same CV to every potential employer. In fact, you shouldn’t.
Many people want to know how to create their perfect CV, but the truth is, it doesn’t exist. Each potential employer has different priorities, and there is nothing wrong in tailoring a CV to suit their individual needs. Take the extra time to highlight education, job, and volunteer experiences that match what each specific employer is looking for.
4. Be conservative when it comes to format and style
Don’t be tempted by creative fonts and formatting; it’s distracting and unprofessional. Instead, choose a classic font such as Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, or Verdana. Also, avoid using excessive amounts of bold, italics, and other features. This can confuse CV scanning software. If you do decide to use bold or italics in titles and headings, it must be used consistently.
5. Prioritize your CV
Here’s the truth: the majority of recruiters only scan about the first half of the first page of your CV. This means that you only have roughly 10 cm’s or so of text to make a lasting impression. You must put the experiences and skills that you want potential employers to see it in that space. If you fail to catch their attention, they will move on to the next CV.
6. Don’t over share
Too many job seekers make the mistake of including too much information in the job history section of their CV. For example, if you have 20 years of experience working for multiple companies, performing the same duties and functions, there is no reason to include excessive details about each role. Instead, include the most recent position, and make reference to your years of experience in your particular industry. You can fill in the blanks during the interview.
7. Follow the employers’ instructions when submitting your CV
There’s nothing that will get a CV sent to the recycling bin faster than failing to follow basic submission instructions. Common directives might include: submitting the CV as a specific file type, using a specific format when titling the file, including specific information in the subject line of the email, using a specific font type and size, and/or submitting the CV through the company website instead of email. Sometimes, these instructions are given because the employer has special software requirements. However, in other cases, it is used as a way to test the job seeker’s ability to follow instructions.
8. Be honest
While it is okay to emphasize certain things about your work history and minimize others, it is never okay to be dishonest. Employers will check your claims. When they do, make sure there aren’t any unpleasant surprises.