How to write a CV that gets you noticed
Finding the perfect CV template was easy: but filling it in so your target employer notices your application requires a little more effort! You need to remember that employers see hundreds of CVs for every job vacancy they advertise, so there’s a lot of competition.
When your would-be employer is sifting through the pile, they’ll have just one thing in mind: the job spec. At this stage, all they want to know is if you meet their minimum requirements as set out in the job advertisement, which might be for example, a degree or a particular amount of experience. Recruiters typically do a first sift-through all the applicants and get rid of any CVs that don’t make the cut, before looking at prospects in a little more detail. So what can you take away from this?
When you’re completing your CV template, the number one rule is to ensure that they can see you’ve met their criteria within around 3 seconds. This applies to both your CV and your covering letter. Don’t bury the information and make it difficult to find – use the ‘personal statement’ or ‘objective’ statement at the top of your CV to spell out that you’re exactly what they’re looking for.
So, for example, if the job advert requires “Minimum 2:1 degree in Business and 1 year of experience in management” (and of course, assuming you meet these criteria), set out HOW you meet these criteria in both the CV and covering letter:
I have an honours degree in Business (2:1) from the University of Leicester, together with 18 months experience in a management role at Costa Coffee.
But what if you don’t meet the job requirements? In that case, it’s important to set out why the recruiter should still consider you. For example, you might write in your covering letter:
Although my degree grade was 2:2, I have substantially more experience than you are looking for, having spent more than 4 years in a management role at Costa Coffee.
Once you’ve tackled the criteria set out in the job spec, focus your CV on relevant qualifications and experience, together with any achievements.
- If you spent time in a role that wasn’t all relevant, focus on the aspects of the role which were.
- If you have zero relevant experience, focus on relevant qualifications. Where applicable, you could mention how in previous positions you have quickly learnt the job and hit the ground running. You could also mention any transferable skills.