When you apply for a job, your potential employers don’t know how smart and enthusiastic you are. They don’t know how much you brought to your previous company, or that you have great design skills. All they have to go on is your CV, and if that doesn’t tell them the important things about you in a clear and easy-to-read way, then they will never know that you’re the perfect candidate.
Fix your CV
Here are some things you can do to ensure that your CV gets your foot in the door.
Formatting is crucial, especially if you’re applying for a role that relies heavily on document presentation skills. Formatting errors will jump off the page and damage the reader’s impression of you – and you only have one chance at a first impression. If you put a full stop at the end of a bullet point, make sure that there’s a full stop at the end of every bullet point. If you want to list your achievements in columns, ensure that they are equally spaced and structured. If you capitalise one job title, capitalise all of them.
Don’t let a spelling mistake or typo scupper your chances by making you appear careless in your work. Take the time to proofread your CV thoroughly or, even better, get someone else to take a look at it for you. Don’t just rely on spell check (and, if you are using it, make sure it’s set to UK English rather than US English).
Ensure all your contact details are on the CV
It’s a basic staple of a CV, but it’s surprising how many people forget to put their email address or phone number on it.
Lead with skills and achievements
Don’t just put a block of copy under every job detailing the day-to-day tasks you carried out in that role. Instead, list the skills and achievements you gained while working there, and explain a little bit about them. Where possible, quantify the work you’ve done.
Tailor your CV for the job
If you’re applying for a number of different types of jobs, then prepare tailored CVs for each. What would sell you well for a document production job won’t necessarily be the best way to sell yourself for a team leader role. Focus on the skills that are applicable for the job you are applying for.
Keep it simple
Don’t go over two pages, and avoid heavy blocks of copy. Employers often scan a CV for keywords on the first sift, so make sure that their eyes are drawn to the right parts of your CV. Don’t be afraid of bullet points, or of putting key phrases in bold so that they stand out.
Minimise personal information
A personal statement and a couple of your interests outside of work are fine, but don’t over-burden your CV with personality. Keep it professionally focused, don’t try to be funny, and save your personality for the job interview.
Keep it positive
Don’t mention any failures and don’t complain about a former employer. It will make you sound defensive and unprofessional.