A CV trouble-shooting guide
Not getting much success with your CV? As long as you’re not too much of a long-shot (that is, you meet most of the job criteria) there are three main areas where your CV might be letting you down. Ask yourself these trouble-shooting questions to start making immediate improvements in your CV-to-interview score.
Are you respecting your reader’s time?
Hiring managers, HR execs and recruiters are reporting record numbers of applicants per vacancy in practically every sector. That means correspondingly less reading time per CV. Make sure yours doesn’t look offputting by keeping it brief and making key information prominent. Make the text readable: no tiny fonts, adequate spacing to stop it looking cramped, and by using bullets (or other devices) to highlight info. Eliminate waffle, repetition and puff.
Are you relevant?
Of the record numbers of applications, many are doomed to the ‘no’ pile because they don’t focus on the specifics of the role. To be considered a serious candidate, you need to address these specifics (which may well change for each different role) showing how you’ll bring value and make an impact. This does require extra work, but the effort pays off. A targeted CV stands out.
Make sure that everything in your CV is relevant and illustrates how hiring you benefits the company. Consider writing a “master CV” containing all the facts of your background (skills-sets, employment details, achievements, qualifications, etc) and then extracting key information every time you apply for a job. Alternatively, if you’re applying for roles in different fields or sectors, write a more generic CV for each, and tweak it for each vacancy.
Are you literate?
Well, yes, it probably is unfair that your brilliance is overshadowed by your dodgy grammar, weak spelling or hazy grasp of punctuation rules. Unfortunately, rejection based on English skills is one of the quickest ways to whittle down the CV pile. More importantly, communication skills are generally essentials in a job description, so a well-written CV and cover letter are the easiest way to show these attributes.
If you’re not confident in your English usage, go beyond just using the spell check (which won’t necessarily catch wrong word choice, such as whether you’ve used they’re / their / there correctly, for example). Read your CV aloud (can you get to the end of the sentence without wheezing?) to make sure sentences are short and manageable. If you’ve been applying for multiple vacancies, be paticularly vigilant to avoid careless mistakes such as cutting and pasting covering letters but not changing the name of the company.
Get others to read your CV for sense and for language. Use a good punctuation guide if you’re confused by commas, colons and semi-colons. Be careful of tone and style. While you should avoid a stuffy, over-formal tone, neither should you litter your application materials with text speak, or i for I, for example.
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