From your covering letter and CV to your first interview, your job hunting success boils down to how good you are at selling yourself in a short space of time. So, when it comes to your CV how do you get your credentials and suitability across succinctly? How do you sum yourself up in the most insightful way? How do you catch a prospective employer's eye with strong headlines while also delivering on detail?
The way in which you write your CV and the specifics you include will depend on the promotional platform you're using and how far along the application process you are. For example, a generic CV for a recruitment agent, who has several potential roles in mind for you, will be different to the one you hone for a direct application. These seven top tips will make your CV shine no matter what:
• Know your audience – speaking the right language, according to who you're communicating with, is essential. Don't just think about what you're saying, in terms of the key skills and experience a recruiter's looking for, but also how you say it. Adopt their mindset, align your goals and ambitions with theirs and craft your CV accordingly.
• Accentuate to accumulate – recruiters only spend a couple of minutes reading every CV they receive, so incorporating keywords and phrases they'll easily recognise is an absolute must. This is also important if you're posting your CV online, as it could improve your visibility and rankings among search engines or professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.
• Strike a balance – whether you're trying to score highly with humans or algorithms, it's essential you avoid going overboard with jargon, because doing so can make your CV difficult to read and dilute your chances of getting to the next stage. Prove your expertise without coming across like you've swallowed an industry dictionary.
• Make it adaptable – your CV needs to be a multi-tasker, otherwise you'll have to re-do it from scratch every time you apply for a job. Ensure your basic version is easy to change for different opportunities and audiences. Format and basic information can remain the same, but adapt your mission statement and achievements according to what the recruiter's looking for.
• Appearances are everything – the way your CV looks will undoubtedly influence the people reading it. Scruffy and unkempt, with a lack of attention to detail, will be seen as a reflection of who you are and how you operate professionally. Make sure your CV is easy to read and uses fonts and spacing consistently.
• Demonstrate you're a thinker and a doer – bright ideas and strategy are all very well, but most recruiters want to be confident the people they employ are able to manage end-to-end processes effectively. Use relevant examples to prove you can successfully conceptualise and deliver projects, even if you weren't solely responsible for their completion. Showing you're a triple threat – someone who has creativity, a proactive nature and the leadership skills to master the art of delegation - will help your CV shine.
• Stand out to impress – include unique skills and experience no one else can lay claim to. Make a conscious effort to capture your reader's imagination - it could be the point of difference that makes your CV outshine the others.