The devil is in the detail: CV tips

Posted in Blog on 21 Jan 2021

As the candidate registration numbers increase and our interviews get back to pre-pandemic levels, it is important to look at the tools that help us to secure that all important interview and ultimately that new role that will fulfil our ambitions.

Usually the CV is the first opportunity you will have to impress a prospective employer. It is a great way promote yourself and is the easiest way to outline your career history, experience, key skills, and motivations in one place.


To the untrained eye, these documents may appear simple to create, however, they follow some unspoken rules that are important when it comes to selling yourself as the ideal candidate. By following guidance listed below you can ensure that your CV is in tip top condition which will help maximise your chances of landing an interview, and perhaps your dream job!

Content

The content of your CV is vital. Check, Check and re check, spelling and accuracy are everything here. If it doesn’t read well, fix it. Hirers spend an average of 6 seconds reviewing your CV before making the initial yes or no decision. Think about what makes you stand out from your colleagues, think about the commercials of your input into the firm and how you can highlight those succinctly. Think pareto law. With what element of your role do you stand out from the crowd. It is also sensible to think along the lines of what your firm incentivise as these usually are the important drivers to most firms.

Technical knowledge is important. It can illustrate that you are knowledgeable in specific areas and can reassure the hiring manager of your experience and ability to9 hit the ground running.

However, you should be wary of overuse. Using too much technical language, or worst applying it in the wrong situation, can act counterproductively by making your CV unreadable. Details from job description should be reflected throughout the content of your CV as a way of signposting to the recruiter that you are a match for the position.

Another golden rule is to try and tailor your CV to every application you make. You should keep a general copy up to date and use this as a template to work from. In doing this you should be made aware of any enhancements your CV may need or if there are any gaps in your experience that you may need to talk around (or begin fill) in the meantime.

Format

Keep it concise, in a tidy format and include relevant information– under 2 pages is the gold standard. You should generally follow the format of;

  • Personal details - Name, address, contact details (number/ email address), and links to social media profiles such as LinkedIn
    Short Snapshot - Usually 1 or two lines that set out your objectives, your envisioned career path and emphasise any key skills and attributes
  • Education and Training - You should always start with your most recent qualifications and work backwards. It is good to list if you have attended any relevant courses and to cover any language proficiencies in this section
  • Achievements - Accreditations and awards are always a great selling point; they help you stand out as an individual and indicate high performance
  • Employment history/ work experience - This should also take a chronological approach listing your most up to date positions with all of the core responsibilities of the role and experience gained included. Detail of your development when reading through your CV chronologically makes for good reading. If you are working in a similar role to a previous one, employers are keen to understand where you have progressed in your latest role. You should demonstrate how you have excelled in each role preferably in quantifiable measurements if possible
  • Interests - Only include relevant interests… a hiring manager will not qualify a candidate based on their water skiing experiences for example
  • References - Normally adding the tag line of “references available on request” will suffice, unless it is otherwise specified that they need to be included

Polish

Ensure you stand out by removing or reducing generic cliché’s like ‘hard worker’, ‘highly motivated’, and ‘enthusiastic’. Your CV should represent you and not a google search. By injecting personality into your CV you can make an application entertaining yet professional – a healthy balance needs to be maintained to enable your CV to outshine other competition yet for it not to burn your chances of gaining an interview.

Many people believe that having a creatively designed CV or including a photograph of themselves helps them stand out as individuals rather than just an applicant. Hirers are not looking for fancy presentation and regard substance over style. We would always suggest that keeping your CV to the point and presenting it in a plain, neat, and methodical manner trumps the more “out there” CVs that grab attention for the wrong reasons.

For more insight on CVs tips check out our advice page and infographics. You can view our latest vacancies to send your newly updated CV directly to one of our expert consultants. Contact us on 0161 233 6360 for more information.

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