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Top CV tips:
If you’re struggling to get to the interview stage, then it could be that your CV is not quite up to the standard expected. No matter how qualified and skilled you are for a role, the employer still needs to see a well presented and professionally constructed CV so they can fully get the picture.
When up against so many other applicants just as qualified as you, the key to success will often lie in the quality of your CV. If the employer has a choice between your outdated CV and a modern application that is tailored to the role, it won’t take very long to understand why you’re being rejected.
To help you get to the interview stage, here are 10 amazing CV tips…
Conduct plenty of research
A common mistake an applicant makes when entering into an interview is to not research the role and the company. A lot of people get transfixed on the salary and the benefits, and forget to work out what the company actually does, who their customers are, and what the roles entails.
Not only will your CV struggle to impress an employer if your understanding of the industry is lacking, you will also fail to cope with answering questions during the interview. Before you apply for any role you should visit the company’s website to see what they are all about. What product/service do they sell? Who are their customers?
Create a CV that’s easy to navigate
No matter how you decide to structure your CV you should always ensure it’s easy to navigate. Use clear headings for each section, and use adequate spacing between them so the hiring manager can quickly move from one to the next.
It’s often the case that an employer won’t actually read through all of the sections of your CV, or at the very least skim read parts of it. So it’s vital that your CV allows the reader to quickly glance and extract the most important information they are seeking to hopefully short list you for an interview.
Don’t bunch up your text
In order to make your CV easy on the eye you need to ensure you don’t bunch up your text too much. Using bullet points is a great way to list certain things – like skills or daily tasks from your previous roles.
When reviewing your CV and checking it over for mistakes, take a step back and see how it looks. Do you have a few paragraphs or sentences grouped together that could be spaced apart? Or maybe you’ve explained something in too much detail and would prefer to write simpler and more concise sentences?
Again, remember how quickly the hiring manager wants to read your CV before moving onto the next one. Don’t bore them with any irrelevant information or lengthy sentences and paragraphs.
Include a core skills section
Having a core skills section, just beneath your personal statement, is a great way to showcase your skills to the employer – with no frills and no fuss. Rather than hide your skills within your employment history, it’s much better to simply state your core skills right at the top of the first page so they stand out.
However, you must ensure your core skills align with the role and are completely relevant to what the employer has requested in the job posting. Keep this section short and use bullet points to list your core skills. You don’t need to list every single skill you feel is relevant – keep this to around 5-8.
Don’t forget your personal statement/objective
Not everybody chooses to write a
It directly addresses the role and briefly explains what skills and experience you have to offer. The impact a professionally written personal statement can have on a CV is immeasurable.
Provide evidence of your performance
Your performance cannot be measured unless you provide evidence along with your daily tasks. The employer doesn’t want to just know what experience you have, they also want to know how you performed. A great way to do this is to provide your achievements – promotions, training, examples of revenue generated, sales figures and so on.
Keep your achievements relevant to the role you’re applying for, so the employer can quickly see how your current skill set and experience will transfer over into their role.
Avoid cliché statements
Cliché statements are an employer’s worst nightmare, as they don’t provide any facts to back them up. Rather than stating you’re a hard worker, instead you could explain how you constantly volunteered for overtime, worked weekends, stayed until the deadline was met or a project completed, and so on.
There are lots of ways you can prove to an employer that you have the skills their looking for without using cliché statements. Are you a great team player? Prove this by explaining a project you took part in and how yours and the team’s efforts prevailed.
Expand upon the important roles
If you have an extensive employment history, try not to list tasks for every single one if they are not relevant to the role. An employer is mainly interested in your most recent positions, which means your first job as a waiter will most likely not need much explanation other than the job titles, company name and timeline.
Assuming your most recent roles are in line with the new job you’re applying for, this will be the perfect opportunity to expand upon the tasks and responsibilities, and also include your achievements to show your outstanding performance.
Don’t be afraid to use numbers
Another great way of providing evidence of your performance is with numbers. If you’re applying for a sales role then the employer would benefit greatly if you were to provide your sales figures from your previous jobs. Generated revenue, time saved, the number of people you managed – are all numbers which should be included in your CV if you want to really demonstrate your abilities.
Use an appropriate email address
Everything on your CV should be professional – including your email. Having firstname.lastname@example.org might seem cool to you, but if the employer isn’t a Star Wars fan you could be getting off to a bad start already. You should always use a professional email address which includes your name. So something like this ‘email@example.com’ would be more acceptable.
No matter how wacky your sense of humour may be, it’s not appropriate and won’t do you any favours.
Featured CV template: 'Coasting'
CV ref #133: Our 'coasting' CV template has a simple two column design with lots of space to keep the look and feel clean. The crisp font, attractive headers and smart icons are all visual aids that present your information in an attractive way; while the proficiency slider and document 'binder' corner add further originality to the design. The coastal background is removable if desired.Download our 'coasting' cv template
Guide to resume formats:
Whilst CVs follow a fairly standard layout (see how to write a CV below), resumes come in different formats. These include:
- Chronological resume format: Work history is listed in order, most recent first. If you’re not sure which resume type to provide, choose this one – it’s what most employers prefer.
- Functional resume format: This type of resume focuses on skills and experience, with less emphasis on work history. You’ll notice that we have quite a few templates of this type available in the collection. This format works well for roles where skills are more important than work history to the role. It’s also a great choice for candidates with gaps in their employment history or little formal work experience (remember: you can include other types sagof experience such as volunteering, community projects and freelance work).
- Combination resume format: This resume format combines the best of the chronological and functional resume. You’ll highlight skills, but also provide the chronological work history (most recent position first). It’s a flexible format that allows you to showcase your best selling points.
- Targeted resume format: This is not really a format but more of an approach. It means that you adapt your resume to the specific job position you’re applying for. Having studied the job description, you will match the format of your resume to showcase the particular specifications that the recruiter is looking for. For example, if academic qualifications are really important to the position, these should be emphasised on the resume; but if experience is more important, the work history will be the focal point. In our view (and that of many other recruitment experts), a CV or resume should always be targeted, unless the recruiter asks for something else specifically.
Featured CV template: Icons
CV ref #34: This super-smart one page CV or resume template has lots of incredible features that help it to stand out from the crowd. The eye-catching header has a lovely subtle gradient background, with icons for your contact information. At the top, there's a stylish timeline to show your career progression, followed by a neat personal statement section presented as your 'life philosophy'. Underneath there's space to write more about yourself and to the right, there are adjustable skills boxes to show proficiency in your skill areas. Finally, the hobbies section is iillustrated with stylish icons. This is a great one-page template that works well where the focus is on skills rather than the detail of your work history. Download Icon template
How to write the perfect CV
There are lots of people that write a great CV but still don’t make it to the interview stage. There could be many reasons for this – poor formatting, spelling mistakes, and much more.
Making a few errors is a sure fire way of getting your CV rejected, but even if you have a well written CV there are still lots of reasons why the hiring manager may turn you down.
To give you the very best possible opportunity of making it to the interview stage, here are 10 secrets to writing the perfect CV and making a great first impression:
Choose a CV template
No longer do you have to suffer for hours in front of your computer trying to adjust and align your CV template to fit on all the sections. Instead, why not simply search through the hundreds of ready made CV templates and insert your details within a matter of minutes?
There are even templates which have specifically been designed for your career, so finding the right one for you should be easy. Even if you don’t want to use a pre-made CV template, it could inspire your own design and they are easily adjustable.
Customise your CV to the role
An employer can easily spot a generic CV, and although it may seem like an arduous task re-writing your CV for each role you apply to, this will make a huge difference to the hiring manager who is looking for a candidate that is dedicated to the role.
A well tailored CV shows the company that you care, and have taken note of what they are looking for in a candidate. Also look to align your CV with the company’s culture, and use industry jargon where possible to showcase your expertise.
Try to stick within the standard two pages for your CV, and cut out anything that’s irrelevant and doesn’t add value to your application. Anything longer then two pages runs the risk of boring the reader, and whether you’re the right person or not could get lost within your lengthy sentences.
Check, double check, and triple check
Don’t send out your CV until you’ve checked it numerous times for any spelling or grammatical errors. Just the one small error could be enough to decrease your chances of an interview, and spending a few minutes re-reading your CV could prevent any silly mistakes.
Consider having your CV proofread by a professional to ensure it’s up to scratch. It’s always sensible to have another pair of eyes check your CV, not only for errors, but to also offer some advice on how you could improve your application.
The hiring manager wants to read a CV that oozes confidence, and doesn’t want to have any doubt in your abilities. Don’t worry about what you can’t do and always focus upon your achievements and what you have to offer the company.
Even if you don’t fully match all of the requirements, you can still be the right person for the job. Don’t be discouraged by a lack of a couple of skills if you still have what it takes to perform well. Highlight all the relevant strengths and forget about your weaknesses.
Write a personal statement
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to add some personality to your CV, and to help push the employer in the right direction. A personal statement can have a great impact on your chances of success, and make your CV more personable.
Give a brief summary of your achievements, what you are looking to achieve in the future, and what you can bring to the role. This reaffirms your dedication to the industry and the role that’s on offer.
Your CV is not worth the paper it’s written on if you make bold claims that you can’t back up. How is the hiring manager meant to trust what you have to say if you don’t provide any examples or evidence of your past performances and achievements?
Stay clear of having too many cliché statements, and instead look to add credibility to your CV by providing examples of how you performed well. This could be an explanation of an idea that generated revenue or cut down the time for a process, or it could be actual sales figures showing how many targets you’ve hit over the years.
Cut out the waffle
Your CV should get straight to the point and only contain information which is relevant to the role. With literally hundreds of other applicants all requesting an interview, the employer has to make a quick decision on who they want to see. Don’t overcomplicate your CV, and highlight all the main points in an easy to read and navigate CV.
Give clear headings to each section so there is no misunderstanding, and use bullet points wherever possible so the manager can quickly skim through your details and see that you have what they’re looking for.
Have an online profile and portfolio
Having an online profile is like having an extended CV, and you can sneakily add extra information by providing links to websites like LinkedIn to showcase your work history, skills, qualifications and achievements.
Most employers now expect a candidate to have an online profile, so without one you could be already at a disadvantage to other applications. Using links on your CV could also be a great way for you to showcase your work, whether it’s a website or video creation, you can easily provide the employer access to your online portfolio for extra brownie points. Check out our guide to building a killer LinkedIn profile to complement your CV.
Don’t forget Facebook
Although Facebook isn’t a platform for job seekers to use as a professional work profile, this doesn’t mean that an employer won’t Google you to see what the internet has to say about you. Take care when adding photos from crazy drunken nights out, and make sure they are kept private so an employer can’t find them online.
A curious employer will sometimes want to get a better understanding of who you are, and they can’t always do that with your CV. Do you fit into the company’s culture? Are you a family man, or do you like to party all the time?
It won’t matter how qualified you are for the role if the employer doesn’t take you seriously or think you are committed to your career. Facebook or other social media sites can sometimes paint a picture of someone in a bad light, no matter how inaccurate it may be. Be careful not to give off the wrong impression and double check what your profiles have to say about you.
If you get a call back for an interview – fantastic news!
We also offer some great advice on interview techniques and much more. Visit our job interviewing section for more info.