6 job application tips you NEED to know to wow HR

With so few jobs and so much competition, how do you make your CV stand out from the pile? Follow our expert’s 6 essential tips for catching the Hiring Manager’s attention.

1. Keep it to the point

Sorting through CVs

Due to the sheer number of people applying for jobs, it’s only fair that the hiring manager’s role be made much easier when it comes to the shortlisting. Don’t fall into the trap that most people make of writing too much down, as the employer just doesn’t have the time to read every single word you’ve written.

Imagine if you were looking to hire someone and you had literally hundreds of CVs to look through – what would you do? First of all you’d look to make a shorter list by making a yes and no pile.

But how would you sort through them quickly and efficiently?

You’d obviously have to skim read through each one whilst searching for relevant key words and phrases. If you had to read through pages and pages of information just to find out what you need, you’d obviously get bored very quickly and toss it onto the no pile!

An eye tracking study by the Ladders shows that employers spend about 6 seconds skimming your CV. Eye tracking showed that recruiters spent far less time on text heavy CVs with lengthy paragraphs rather than bullets and vague headers.

Employers aren’t looking for your complete life’s work – only the relevant information is required. So that’sRelevant skills

Relevant work experience

Relevant qualifications

…etc. It doesn’t of course mean you have to omit everything else that’s not relevant to the role, but ensuring you highlight the information they’ll want to see is the key to success.

Keep every piece of information short and to the point. If you feel you need to describe a particular section in a little more detail as it’s relevant to the role you’re seeking, then make sure each and every word and sentence gets straight to the point.

2. Avoid clichés and jargon

Talking rubbish

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when writing a CV is to use obvious sentences like

‘I am an extremely motivated learner with a fantastic work ethic.’

What does that actually prove to the employer, and are they meant to just take you at your word? If you were reading that statement from a total stranger, would you take that information at face value?

Of course you wouldn’t – and that’s why it’s vital that you avoid these types of cliché sentences. Instead, you need to back up your skills and experiences with cold hard facts and figures. The employer will clearly be able to see that you are a motivated learner with a great work ethic if you present your skills, qualifications and work experience in such a way that shows this.

3. Use relevant keywords

CV keywords

Using relevant keywords and highlighting them in your CV will get you one step closer to that all important interview. But what keywords should you use, and how can you find them?

First of all you need to study the application and make a note of the keywords they’re using. For example, what qualifications are being requested? Is a licence to drive a particular vehicle required? Is past experience preferred?

Once you’ve narrowed down the important keywords you can now begin to include them in your CV, and make adjustments accordingly. Your CV should always be tailored to the specific role or sector of employment to ensure it catches the employers eye immediately.

Here’s an example of a job advert:

Panel Beater – Car Dealership

As a panel beater you will be required to have previous work experience in repairing cars to the highest of standards. You will also be expected to thrive in a customer service environment.

Along with your technical knowledge you will be able to work efficiently to set targets, as well as carry out welding work.

To be successful in this role you will have –

ATA Certification

Great team player 

High communication skills

Prior experience of working to targets

A current and valid driving license

Experience working for a dealership – but not essential

Brand experience and knowledge would be advantageous

There are lots of keywords you can extract from the above and insert into your CV to ensure it attracts the attention of the reader. For example – Panel Beater, technical knowledge, welding work, ATA certification, previous dealership experience, brand knowledge, etc…

Blending these keywords seamlessly into your CV gives you the very best opportunity for that all important interview, ensuring that the reader instantly recognises you are qualified for the role, and have all the qualities they require.

4. Results are king!

Results on CV

More often than not you will see the responsibilities and tasks listed along side the list of previous roles. However, the employer is more interested understanding how well you did in those roles, and more importantly the results you achieved and delivered within that performance. So instead of just copying and pasting the job specs from your past roles onto your CV like everyone else, you need to also consider including the actual results that you achieved.

Let’s say for example you are looking to apply to become a car salesman. Clearly presenting any previous sales experience is essential to show that you’ve been a salesman before – even if it was something different like selling windows or carpets.

However, even more importantly you also need to document your results from those past sales jobs. For example:

‘I was the top salesman for 3 months consecutively, selling over 20% more stock than the rest of my team.’

5. Make contact

Handing over your CV

The sheer amount of applications an employer will receive means you’ll have to work a lot harder to ensure your application is given a second glance. So with stiff competition it’s time to get creative!

If you are struggling to get that all important interview, we recommend you first of all attempt to contact and meet up with somebody who works in that particular industry. If you are friends with someone, then great! Give them a call and meet up for a coffee so you can ask them where you might be going wrong, or what you could include in your CV to attract their attention (if they were in the recruiter’s shoes).

It could be something simple that you are missing that could be the key to success, but you’d never have any idea if you keep sending your CV in without actually speaking to an industry expert. You can also consider contacting the Company to find out what has happened since you applied, and if you were unsuccessful, politely asking if they were able to offer feedback as to why.

Finally, why not physically take your CV into the Company and hand it to them personally. Sure, this may seem like a very bold and perhaps even overly-confident move, but you’d be surprised at how impressed the employer will be that you’ve made the effort to speak with them one to one.

In a way you are also providing them with a small interview before they’ve even looked at your CV, so you are instantly one step ahead of the competition!

6. Choose the right CV template

Completing a cv template

Choosing a CV template is all about making the right first impression. The right template depends on the role you’re going for.

If it’s a professional or administrative role, choose a template that is elegant, uncluttered and free from graphics. We suggest the following from our free CV templates collection for a professional or admin type role:

Choose a professional font for your CV such as Helvetica or Garamond.

If the role you’re going for is creative, you’ll want to show off more of your creative flair in your CV template. Our suggested CV templates for creative roles include:

You can browse through our full range of free creative CV templates here.

About Jen Wiss-Carline

Jen Wiss-Carline has been a Senior Manager and Consultant for several sizeable companies which included dealing with all aspects of staff management and recruitment. She is also a Chartered Legal Executive, and was admitted as a Fellow in February 2006.

Jen's qualifications include:
LL.B (Hons) (1st)
Chartered Legal Executive (FCILEx)
PG Cert Bus Admin
PgDip Law (LPC)
LL.M (Master of Laws) (Distinction)

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