The job market is tough and perfecting your CV has never been more crucial. Faced with a towering pile of applications, a hirer will spend an average of just six seconds scanning your CV.
So, what are they looking for in that time?
Keep It Simple
The key to writing a professional and polished CV is highlighting all the key information in an up-to-date and readable way. A recruiter wants to be able to find the information they need as quickly and easily as possible.
What to do:
- Use a standard font- Calibri (our favourite), Arial or Times New Roman work best.
- Use a readable font size- size 11/12 for body text and 13/14 for headings.
- Do use a standard format. We tend to follow a functional format (see our functional CV template at the end of this post).
- Make sure it is proof read. One spelling mistake could see your CV straight on the “no” pile.
- Stay away from colours. CVs are usually printed in black and white and so some colours can become lost once printed.
Keep It Brief
Your CV is an introduction to you. It should be designed to leave the reader (the recruiter) wanting to know more and lead them to invite you for an interview. Writing a brief CV also shows a skill in being able to stick to the point.
What to do:
- Try to keep your CV between one and three pages long. This will be dependent on how long you have been in work and the relevant experience you have. For example, a new graduate will likely have a shorter CV than a candidate with many years’ experience.
- Include plenty of white space. This will make it easier for the recruiter/hiring manager to navigate.
- Use bullets to highlight key skills and experience.
- Save space by getting rid of any experience from over ten years ago. If the experience is relevant then you can keep it on your CV if you wish. However, stick to one bullet point per job and highlight dates, employer and position
- Although your CV should be brief, don’t be afraid to add extra information in if it helps to demonstrate that you are a suitable candidate. It’s fine to add internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer experience, if it is relevant.
- There is no need to add references on your CV, as these should always be covered further down the line in the recruitment process. You don’t want to waste valuable space.
Keep It About You
Use your CV to really sell yourself and highlight why you would be perfect for the role you are applying for.
What to do:
- Always include a personal profile. This should be clear, concise and job specific (no more than 1-4 sentences). A well written personal profile also shows the employer what you are looking for, as an employer will also want to know that they can help you on your own career journey. An employer should match you as much as you match the job.
- Add a key skills section, this is a great way to show how you are qualified for the role you are applying for. Include your most relevant skills on your CV that match the job specific skills in the job description
- Get rid of non-essential information.Although your CV needs to be about you, you should not include information about your personal life, family or hobbies or anything else not related to the role. Employers could judge you adversely and saving this information leaves you something to talk about at the interview.
- Other needless data that can be left off includes ethnicity, sexual orientation, health status and marital status.
Keep It About the Job
Adapting your CV sounds obvious, but you would be surprised the number of CVs we see that haven’t been targeted to the role they are applying for. As much as your CV should sing your praises, it should also show in equal measure how you are the right person for the job.
What to do:
- Show the recruiter that you have taken time and effort to read the job description and highlight how your own skills and experience are a match.
- A CV that has been written in a generic form for any role makes your application look poorly thought out. It also makes us wonder how many other different jobs you have sent the same application to…
Finally, Keep It Honest
There is no point in trying to fabricate anything on your CV, as it will come out in the wash.
It’s okay to have had a career break, just explain it on your CV rather than trying to hide it. One sentence to explain this is fine. For example, ‘sabbatical to travel’.
We have created a CV template designed to help you through this process. By using our template and following our tips we can help you create a professional CV that should help to improve your chances of being selected for interview.
Get your copy here: Opus CV template