What We Say
You only have seconds to impress an employer – if your CV is too long, cluttered, complex or weak then you can fail at the first hurdle.
What Employers Want
Contrary to what some people (and some CV companies) seem to think, employers are usually deterred (not attracted) by long and unfocused CVs.
This stands to reason, after all, employers and HR executives are busy people, and they have neither the time nor the inclination to wade through long CVs to extract the snippets of main interest.
What employers really want is for you to show (quickly and clearly) that you can not only do the job, but you are the best candidate to boot.
Start with a short profile. A profile is the first thing to include in your CV and it is the introduction to the rest of your CV. Keep it simple and relevant. Think along the lines of if you were producing an elevator pitch. What would you sum up about yourself in 30 seconds? Stick to what’s important be it the industries you have worked in, the business you have generated, facts, or possibly even some figures to make your profile stand out. Think along the lines of: What do I have to offer? And why is my application relevant to this job?
It is important to remember to always tailor your CV to each individual job specification (if there is one). Even if the job advert does not have a job specification you can still research what skills and competencies such jobs require. If you have a lot of skills in various industries, emphasise the ones relevant to the job you are applying for. But don’t just copy and paste sections out of the job specification. This not only looks unprofessional and shows that you can’t be bothered, but importantly employers will notice!
Sending a generic CV or application is something that many people do. However, it is rarely as effective as the alternative of targeted applications. So do your research on the company and the skills requirements for the job in hand. You’ll then need to tailor each and every application you make accordingly. Yes, it takes time and effort, but it will boost your chances of getting an interview.
Avoid rambling and including excessive detail. Remember, your CV shouldn’t read as a short (or long) story. It should highlight your qualifications, work experience and key achievements/successes, but do so succinctly. Be ruthless with your first draft and get the red editing pen out if you feel it is too long.
Avoid standard phrases and clichés, for example; “paving the way to success”, “go-getter” etc, and also avoid the overuse of acronyms, and especially uncommon acronyms.
If there are gaps in your CV then think about how best to deal with them. There are ways and means to deal with gaps if you are creative, and without trying to pull the wool over the employer’s eyes.
List your key achievements – showing, instead of telling the employer your success stories, and backing this up with evidence. Mention how you were involved, what level you were involved at and how well you achieved the outcome.
Use action words where appropriate to help give life to your achievements. For example:
- Leadership (manage, inspire, mentor, coach)
- Communication (present, negotiate, liaise, articulate)
There are no cast iron rules, but if you write a short profile, show and include evidence (facts, figures, statistics) of your key achievements, and show a concise career history then generally your chances of securing more interviews should increase.
This is no easy feat – and there is more to it than meets the eye, but it’s exactly the kind of thing that we do for people like you on a daily basis.