Making your CV stand out from the rest in order to secure that ideal job interview can be difficult. How do you ensure you are noticed? Karen Young offers advice on how you can achieve this.
In a competitive recruitment process other candidates may be more qualified than you on paper, which is why it is important to understand that the direct purpose of your CV is to secure an interview and not the job.
Hays receives over eight millions CVs a year, with an average of 250 per role, so standing out on paper is essential. That means at this stage of the process, getting a foot in the door needs to be the main focus of your CV.
Here are six pieces of advice to put you ahead of the pack:
1: Your personal statement
A concise personal statement directly beneath your contact details provides employers with a snapshot of your key skills and work ambitions.
It’s the first place an employer is likely to look, so succinctly detail your proudest achievements here.
2: Matching the job description
Try to use adjectives that are similar to those used in the job advertisement, without replicating it word for word. If the employer prioritises someone with “effective leadership skills” then make sure you demonstrate yours during the early part of your personal statement.
3: Avoid clichés
Remember that employers are interested in tangible evidence of your abilities, not just a list of overused adjectives. It’s not enough to just say that you’re hardworking, loyal and a good team player, you need to be able to demonstrate it with solid evidence.
4: Provide hard evidence of your achievements
Similarly, when listing achievements, keep in mind that what really impresses employers is data. If you can illustrate your achievements with facts and figures – how much revenue you saved the business that year, how much the client increased their investment by and so on – then do.
You can do so by being specific with your numbers and data. Consider the differing impact of the following two statements:
1: I consistently exceeded sales targets in my last year.
2: I exceeded sales targets in the last four quarters by x%, resulting in an overall annual increase in turnover of £x.
5: Put yourself in the thick of the action
Remember that you are trying to sell yourself.
Using phrases like ‘was involved in’ and ‘assisted’ implies that you were more of a bystander than an instigator – recruiters pick up on these things. Use strong action verbs and take credit where credit is due.
A couple of caveats, however: never claim involvement in something that had nothing to do with you and don’t bad mouth former colleagues or employers – this is one of the most frequently cited reasons for candidate rejection.”
6: Make it accessible
Finally, and perhaps the most obvious but often overlooked point, is to make your CV as accessible as possible. Send the document over as a PDF so there is no chance of the hirer not being able to view it, make sure all the font is of a legible size and ensure your contact details are current and correct. Recruiters appreciate a streamlined process and will reward you favourably for it!
One final thought on the subject Of the many CVs I review each week it’s those which are clear, concise and accessible which I appreciate most. Build your CV around a few key achievements which relate directly to the job advertisement and you’ve got every chance of progressing to the next stage of the process.
• Karen Young is a director at Hays