What are the odds that your CV will grab an employer’s attention within six seconds?
That’s how long it takes the average recruiter to run through CVs these days. If it makes an impression at the first instance, they may take a little more time to review it. But it appears mediocre or ‘just normal,’ they’ll quickly move on to the next one.
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They have too little time to devote to your pitch. If you’re going to land an interview, you’ll have to make your CV stand out from the lot.
But how do you do this?
Here, we’ll discuss seven characteristics that will set your CV apart from those of other applicants. But first, let’s run through what a standard CV should contain.
The Contents of a Standard CV
Your CV—short for Curriculum Vitae –is a document that introduces you to a potential employer, and points out how you are the right fit for the position they are looking to fill. It notes the personal traits, skills, qualifications, and experiences you possess that make you the right person for the job.
A standard CV contains these segments, in the order listed:
- Personal Details: Your name, professional title, and contact details (address, email, and phone number).
- Personal Statement: A brief statement that describes who you are in terms of the qualities that make you fit for the job.
- Employment History and Experience: A list of your previous jobs, the responsibilities you took on in those roles, and your achievements at them.
- Education: Formal education and certificates you obtained upon completing them. Also, include academic achievements if or where they exist.
- Other Qualifications and Professional Certifications: This is important for roles that require special professional training.
- Relevant Skills: Skills that you possess which will be useful at the job for which you’re applying.
- Interests (Optional): The things you’re interested in (i.e. hobbies), especially the ones that are relevant to the job in question.
Qualities Your CV Should Have
Now here are some things that will make your CV grab recruiters’ attention in seconds.
Use A Personal Statement that Answers Key Questions
Remember, your goal is to get the reader hooked as quickly as possible. So you have to get straight to the point while packing enough information to spark their interest.
In a couple of sentences, your personal statement should answer these questions: Who are you? What do you have to offer (the company)? What are your career goals?
In answering these questions, your aim should be to portray yourself as capable of solving the problem that the role in question exists to tackle.
List Experience Relevant to the Job
The point of listing previous roles on a CV isn’t to show that you’ve been working for a while. What employers are looking for here is relevant experience. They want to know whether you have practical experience that makes you better able to handle tasks at the job they’ve advertised.
If you have worked at several jobs in the past, just include the ones that are relevant to the one you’re applying for. But if you haven’t had a job that’s closely related to this one, try to emphasize aspects of your previous employment or engagements that may have prepared you for the new role.
Don’t apply for a job you aren’t qualified to take on.
Mention Relevant Responsibilities and Achievements at Previous Jobs
When you list your past jobs, add single-sentence bullet points under them that describe your responsibilities at those jobs. Use clear language, and refer to specific roles and tasks.
Also, mention your achievements, and note them in terms of measurable performance metrics (e.g. number of new clients you brought to a previous employer, the size of online traffic you helped to generate, the number of products designed and delivered to market, etc.
This gives the reviewer a clear picture of your antecedence. And if the data is relevant to the job you’re applying for (and impressive), that reviewer will take your application seriously.
Describe Your Achievements Using Positive and Powerful Verbs
It’s important to include details like job titles, locations, employer name, and dates when referring to your previous employers. But while describing your achievements, do so using positive words that portray you as a creator, builder, or problem solver.
Some words to use include managed, developed, directed, devised, succeeded, drove, achieved, and created.
Show that You Are a Good Cultural Fit for the Organization
Find out as much as you can about the culture at the company you are applying to. Do they value purpose, loyalty, cooperation, curiosity, or authority? How can you fit into their culture? Sources you can consult include their website, public perception of them, and the opinion of their current employees.
Have your answers ready before crafting your CV. Your appreciation of the hiring company’s culture should be clear in the achievements you choose to mention, and in the skills you list. You’re certain to catch the reviewer’s attention if you appeal to a corporate culture that they recognize as theirs.
Use Appropriate Font and Format
The body of your CV should have letters in font size 10-12. The most common font type for CVs is Times New Roman, but you may go for other font types like Cambria or Calibri. Your aim should be to make your writing as clear and readable as possible.
Sections should be introduced by bold headings so that it’s easy to determine the flow of the document.
It’s also ideal to make your CV not longer than two pages. Longer documents won’t help your cause; they may even put the recruiter off.
Keep Your CV Free of Errors
Thoroughly proofread your CV for spelling, grammatical, and factual errors. Recruiters may deduce from errors in your CV that you aren’t attentive to detail or not too concerned about getting the job. An error-free CV increases your chances of scaling the initial screening process.
Employers want to hire the best candidates they can find. With a well-prepared CV, you can show them that you’re just the kind of person they’re looking for. If your CV has the qualities we’ve discussed here, you should be on your way to landing an interview with your preferred company.
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