Did you know that an employer will only spend between 10-30 seconds reading each CV? In such a short space of time you have to somehow make an impact, which makes writing a CV one of the hardest steps of the process.
To make it much easier and to increase your chances of gaining lots of interviews, here are our ultimate top 10 CV tips.
1. Mistakes will cost you
If you want to get an instant rejection, no matter how highly qualified you are – then make a mistake. It really is that simple!
The most common is spelling and grammatical, but you can also make a mistake with your formatting, font choice and size, and with your work history timeline. Oh, and don’t forget to check that your contact details are correct. If the employer can’t get hold of you on just one of your contact details, they could move on to another application.
To avoid CV mistakes you should not only check it yourself numerous times, but also ask a friend to do so too. Two pairs of eyes are better than one, and if you can find someone who is or was a manager, then you could also ask them for their feedback on the content and overall presentation.
It’s also worth running your CV through a plagiarism checker such as Clonewolf.com, SmallSEOTools or Plagiarismchecker.net – it’s really common to include well-written snippets that help describe skills or experience from around the web, but if you accidentally fail to adequately rewrite these, it could be a red flag to an employer.
2. Tailor your CV
Generic applications just don’t meet the standards anymore. Your interview success will dwindle rapidly if you continue to use the same CV every time you apply. No matter how many skills, qualifications and achievements you have, it will all be for nothing if you don’t focus upon what matters to the employer.
Conduct lots of research on the company and find out as much as you can before you re-write your CV. Use the job advert to full affect and take note of all the requirements. Your job is to write a CV that matches those requirements, and then some. It has to be completely tailored to the role and that particular company, nobody else.
3. Don’t leave any gaps
Employers are always interested in seeing a clear and focused work history. Candidates who can show a focused career progression are much more likely to commit to a role and remain passionate and dedicated. This is opposed to someone who has job hopped and has taken a few breaks along the way.
Make sure you plug any gaps in your employment with an explanation. One of the best places to do this is within a cover letter, as you can explain in more detail and quash any doubts the employer may have had about your commitment. The most common reason for being out of work are personal health reasons, family commitments, taking a gap year, and going back into education.
Here’s how to explain gaps in your CV.
4. Include a personal statement
An effective way of introducing your details is to write a personal statement. It should aim to address why you are applying, what you have to offer, and your career goals. Nowhere else on your CV does this allow you to take a more direct and personal approach to applying.
Sometimes people confuse personal statements with those written for a university application – they are definitely not the same thing. Uni application personal statements are much lengthier and wordier. On a CV, the personal statement is a very short career summary in the context of the job ad, together with an objective.
Your personal statement should be at the top of the first page, and the first thing the employer will read after your contact details. Make it relevant to the company and avoid writing a generic statement.
5. Stick to the truth
It can be very tempting to embellish or even lie on your CV to get the job, but in the end it just isn’t worth it – and here’s why.
Some half truths are just too much to take, and the employer can often spot them just by reading a CV. You could be on the receiving end of rejection and never know it. But if you do make it to the interview stage you may find it hard to stick with the same story. Employers are very good at dissecting fact from fiction, and you could easily get caught out by what you say.
Finally, if you did get hired but you weren’t completely honest within your CV, then you could get fired on the spot. If an employee was found to have lied on their CV and can’t deliver on their promises, they could be fired instantly. At the end of the day it just isn’t fair to everyone involved, including you. You should focus upon what you can do rather than what you can’t when writing a CV. If you lack a particular skill, qualification or experience – then go out there and get it.
For more information on the ramifications of lying on your CV – Can You Dismiss an Employee if They Lied on their CV?
6. Transferable skills
If upon reading a job advert you find that you are lacking in some of the skills or the required experience, try not to dismiss it altogether. You may have relatable skills and/or experience that could apply, which is why you should write a CV that demonstrates your transferable skills.
Few employers expect candidates to tick all the boxes, and many applications make it through to the interview stage because they show transferable skills. This is a clever way of showing the employer you have done something similar and could easily learn and train to catch up to speed.
If you are considering a change in careers, then demonstrating your transferable skills is a must. For more information read this – How To Show Employers You Have Transferable Skills To Successfully Change Careers.
7. Results, achievements and performance
The two vital components that need to be present within your CV are – 1. The right skills, qualifications and experience, and 2. A demonstration of what you have achieved and what you could.
Most job seekers focus upon listing all the right skills and qualifications, and boast an extensive career history. But what they fail to do is prove how well they function in a working environment and what they are capable of achieving. So make sure you write a CV that shows off your achievements, awards, accolades, and results. Use anything you like to explain how great you are – numbers, charts, revenue, sales stats, customer excellence, and so on.
8. Use a CV template
Rather than spend hours stressing over your laptop trying to come up with an amazing CV design, let the professionals handle it. Instead of creating the layout yourself you can now download free CV templates online and choose from your favourite design.
Go to CV Template Master and choose from over 200 hundred free CV templates. It takes minutes to choose one, seconds to download, and a mere few more seconds to copy your CV details across – it couldn’t be simpler!
Have you recently left education and looking to write your very first CV? Here’s a School leaver CV template.
9. Keywords and commercial awareness
Injecting lots of matching and relevant keywords into your CV is a must if you want to show you are on the same page. It’s a very smart way of letting the employer know you understand the requirements.
Keywords come in all shapes and sizes and range from the skills and qualifications stated on the job advert, to certain personal traits and soft skills – like dynamic, great communication, confidence, and so on. So if you see these keywords on the job advert, then don’t be afraid to use them and make sure your skills and qualifications match up – assuming you have them of course!
Just be careful not to use too many cliché words and statements without backing them up with evidence. You should always write a ‘show, don’t tell CV’ which aims to provide evidence of skills rather than simply stating you have them.
Are you an expert in your field? Do you have the right amount of commercial awareness? This is also very important, and even if just one word or statement within your CV impresses the employer with your knowledge on current affairs, you are already one step closer to an interview.
10. Not too long
Keep your CV short and to the point. Every single sentence should offer value and benefits to the employer. Anything else can either be removed or kept to a minimum – like tasks and responsibilities for your work history.
The standard length of a CV is two pages, so be wary of that the next time you spill over to three or even four pages with your extensive work history. Ask yourself – do I really need to list tasks for every role? Are all of my previous jobs relevant to the new role I now seek?
Here’s how to keep your CV to two pages.