Your CV is the first impression you offer to a potential new employer, so it’s important to get it right. We recently spoke about the importance of getting your LinkedIn profile up to scratch – that’s step one, now optimising your CV is step two. To help optimise your CV today, take a look at our top ten tips!
1. Tailor your CV for the job you want
For most jobs, a generic CV just won’t cut it; it’s really important you’re tailoring your CV for each job you apply for. An obvious tip is to make sure you highlight the skills on your CV that match the job description. But you can go beyond this – take a look at the company’s website and social media channels. Does your CV paint a picture of someone who would fit in well in this environment? This is a great way to let the hiring manager know that you’re a strong fit for this company.
2. Order your career history in a way that makes sense
It’s standard practice to list career history in chronological order on your CV, and nine times out of ten this is probably the best approach to take. But it’s important to use some common sense here. You might have jumped around jobs a little, and that’s fine. But, make sure your most relevant projects are the first thing your hiring manager will see. There’s no point in your first page being filled with positions irrelevant to the role you’re applying for.
3. Be concise – no one has time to read ten whole pages!
Common sense really is the key trait here; if you have so much experience that every word of your four page CV offers something of value then that’s fine. However, you’ll probably be able to trim your CV quite easily. Imagine it was you reading through application after application; you’re not going to have time to sift through every little detail – an overly long CV could even end up going straight into the bin. However, a concise CV demonstrates you’ve taken the time and effort to think about which skills are really necessary for the job you’re applying to.
4. Include the location you want to work
This might seem like a weird one – why would you apply for a job in a location you don’t want to work? But from a hiring manager’s perspective, if they get an application for a job in Liverpool from someone living in London, they may think you’ve just applied on a whim, or misread the location of the advert. If you’re looking to re-locate for a position, it’s not a bad idea to briefly reference in an opening statement.
5. Mirror the language used in the job advert
A bit of subliminal messaging can work a treat; if you adopt the language you see in the advert, you’re already showing that you’re a great fit for this role. This instantly offers the impression that you’ll fit in with the culture you’re applying for.
6. Don’t be afraid to mention your hobbies
As long as you don’t go overboard on the detail, mentioning personal interests and hobbies isn’t a bad thing. A lot of people seem scared to do this, but if it’s relevant, and you want to mention it, then go for it! If you’re struggling to trim your words down though, this should probably be the first thing to cut. The golden rule is to think about the job you’re applying for; will putting your hobbies in make you more attractive to the hiring manager? If so, then pop them in.
7. Focus on the value you added as well as listing your responsibilities
Listing technical skills and experience is obviously crucial, but it’s equally important to make sure you explain the benefit your work has had on the company. Listing skills is great, but if you can contextualise your value and demonstrate just how your technical ability made an impact, then this is more powerful. You’re then offering more than just a shopping list of your abilities; you’re highlighting how your skills directly benefited your past employer.
8. Keep the layout neat
A tidy CV gives off a great impression… but a messy one? Not so much. Keep your font size consistent and try not to use three different typefaces in one document. A messy CV is a bad idea; it makes it look like you’ve put minimal effort in, and is the best way to get your CV thrown straight into the bin.
9. Make sure you explain gaps
Gaps in your CV are fine – life happens. But you need to be able to contextualise it; don’t just leave an unexplained five year career break in your CV. You need to provide reasons for time away from work; if there was a personal circumstance that lead to time out, then don’t be afraid to include this.
10. Get someone to sense check your CV
After reading your own words over and over again, you can become numb to your own mistakes. It’s a good idea to get a friend or colleague to look over your CV; you’ll probably be surprised by the amount of errors they manage to find.
At Progressive, our consultants are on hand to help through every step of your job search. We put our expertise to use to find the perfect job for you and make sure you’re well prepared to impress at every step of the application process. To find out more about what partnering with Progressive really means for your career, get in touch with us.