Your CV is the first thing an employer will see of you, and the first place you can make a good impression. You need to make this impression quickly though because hiring managers often receive large numbers of applications. In the first round selection process a hiring manager will typically take less than 7 seconds to look over your CV. What should you include in yours?
Front-load your CV with a summary, a brief paragraph introducing yourself and outlining your relevant skills. Keep it short, to the point, and specific to the job or type of job you’re applying for. Recruiters and hiring managers are looking through dozens if not hundreds of CVs; an at-a-glance summary helps them remember yours.
List your most recent qualifications first.
This is where you illustrate the key skills and traits from your initial summary. Don’t just say where you worked and what you did, your work history is a record of your accomplishments. Give examples of achievements, awards (if any) and times you added significant value.
Bullet points are appropriate in your work history. You can elaborate on list items in the interview
Use facts and figures. If for example you exceeded your quarterly sales target by 40% netting the company €80,000 then that will stand out to anyone hiring for a sales or negotiation-based role
Keep each section short and to the point. If it’s not relevant to the position you’re applying for you don’t need to elaborate on it
Tailor your job descriptions
Your prospective employer will be looking for specific skills. You’ll know what these are because they’ll be in the job description. The closer your job descriptions match theirs the more natural a fit you’ll seem.
Optimise for keywords
This is really just a variant on the above advice. Your CV is more than likely to be scanned by computers before it ever reaches the attention of a human being. You can increase your chances of the computer recommending you by looking for keywords in the job description and making sure to use them in your CV.
Your language should be formal but not stiff or grandiloquent. Vary your sentence and paragraph length to keep the reader engaged but try not to go overboard with copiously verbose language or unnecessarily long unbroken sentences that move from topic to topic in an unbroken stream that requires the reader to imagine their own punctuation in order to make sense of what you’re saying and really should be spread across more than one paragraph let alone a single sentence. Busy people skip long paragraphs.
Use the readability statistics tool in Microsoft Word. If the Flesch Reading Ease score falls below 50 you need to edit. Never use a comma where a full stop will do.
Always use the spell checker and read back over what you’ve written in case the spell checker has missed anything. Spelling mistakes and typos are always fatal to job applications.
Elements of Style
Today we’ve been focusing on content, but there are several things you can do to make your CV stand out visually. Most people still use word processors as if they were typewriters. Something as simple as a two-column spread putting your key skills and your introduction side-by-side rather than one after another can help you stand out. Try using different fonts for titles and body text, a font pairing guide can help you choose and there are a number of visually appealing CV templates available online.
We recommend AGAINST including a photo of yourself on your CV. A whopping 88% of CVs with photos are rejected immediately.
Above all, keep it short, to the point, and specific to the job or type of job you’re applying for.
TL;DR means ‘Too Long; Didn’t Read’ and is a recognised acronym for a reason.