Career advice, insights & tips for HR professionals
How to fine tune your CV 20/06/2012
Producing a good CV - it’s an endlessly discussed issue, and one that is so much at the heart of finding a job. Why then, do so many of us get it wrong?
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- Technological advancement
- Firstly - remember the purpose of the CV
- Less is more
- Content and presentation
- Don’t oversell yourself
- Timing is everything
- Don’t be a ‘job slob’
Advancements in technology have brought many benefits, but they also have a lot to answer for in terms of reducing the quality of applications for jobs. While it may be easier to apply for a job, you have to remember that you are competing in a much bigger pool than you ever were a few years ago.
So how can you make sure you stand out from the crowd in this electronic age and increase your chances of getting that job? Here are a few basic pointers that should help:
Firstly - remember the purpose of the CV
Hands up all those who know the purpose of a CV? To get the job, right? Wrong! Its sole purpose is to get you an interview, nothing more, nothing less.
If you construct a CV to get you a job, it will be too long. Think of yourself as an athlete who is competing in many qualifying stages of a competition. Does every athlete set out to win every stage of every qualifying round? Of course not – in the early rounds what matters is qualifying and saving your best for when it counts – the final.
Less is more
You’ve heard it before but I’m afraid you have to hear it again – cut down the length of that CV. Unless you are an academic, you have no excuse for having a CV over three sides of A4. That’s three sides not sheets!
Stick to the following guidelines:
- No less than two jobs on one side of paper, no more than 4
- Minimum one inch margin all round the paper
- Size 10 or 12 font, no smaller
If you rework your CV and it's over three sides, get back to the drawing board and start cutting.
Content and presentation
With word processing available to all, there is no excuse for poor presentation. Even the most woeful career history can, on the face of it, look half decent if it’s presented well. There are any number of free resources available to make your CV look great, for those who can be bothered to look.
With electronic job applications in mind i.e. applying online through jobsites or company websites, keep the language in your CV clear and simple. Don’t flower up your story or use acronyms or buzz words.
Gone are the days when recruiters would print out all CV’s received and scrutinise every single one for a match. In today’s technology enabled times, many recruiters use job processing systems that rely on ‘skills dictionaries’ – a list of common key words and terms that reflect skills, abilities and industry experience – to scan CVs and rank you as a candidate in terms of relevance for the job, thus presenting the recruiter with an instant shortlist.
To ensure you make it onto that list, try to use industry standard key words and phrases where possible to increase your chances of being picked up by the search tools used by recruiters using search engines and CV stripping software.
Don’t oversell yourself
Remember you are a potential employee not and actor, which means your CV does not need to contain any gushing comments from critics. I recently saw a CV which contained five or six ‘testimonial’ statements about how good the individual was. Awful. It may sound good, but it will draw nothing but ridicule from your intended audience. Sell your strengths by all means, but don’t overdo it.
Timing is everything
Remember, competition is stiff, and increasing every day so timing is everything. Unless you hit the response button quickly, you will be pipped at the post for that all important job. Many times we have seen great candidates apply for jobs weeks after the position was advertised, only to miss out on the job because the client has gone for someone else who got their act together.
Don’t be a ‘job slob’
If you want that job, you have to put the effort in. Slapping your CV onto a few job sites and sitting back waiting for the phone to ring is the lazy way to look for a new role and will only result in disappointment. Do your homework, be discerning about what you are looking for and make an effort to present yourself in the most appropriate light you can, short of lying.
‘One click’ shopping might be great for buying a book or CD online, but it’s a dumb way of looking for a job. Stick to these basic principles and, while there are never any guarantees, you will significantly increase your chances in the ever increasing candidate pool.
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