No, not because it is bright yellow or filled with stripes and pretty pictures.
Does your CV say: Who you are | What you want to do | Your goals | Is it personable | Does it have your duties and responsibilities? Or, is it just waffle?
The rule of thumb is two pages? I question this slightly as a person with many years of experience could do themselves an injustice by trying to keep to this ‘rule’ and still provide a keen insight into his/her career. Keep it concise. The paragraphs should be bullet-pointed, bite-sized, readable pieces that take only 10 to 15 seconds to consume.
Your CV should be adapted for each job you apply for; picking out and highlighting relevant information that matches the job specification. Do not become a lazy CV slinger. Here is a template I have used for years that many successful applicants have used. CV Template.
N.B. If you are trying for a role that showcases your work (for example: Fashion, Graphic Design, CAD Design, Engineering Design, etc.), you will also have put together a portfolio. In this era of tagging, it should be easily accessed through an “electronic link” to your work within your CV. Do not make your CV your work, it may not be read.
1. Pay attention to your opening statement
Focus on what you can do and what you can offer – referring back to the original job specification. If it says “we are looking for a confident, articulate and customer focused team player” and you possess all of these attributes, put it in your opening statement.
Avoid sweeping statements such as “I can work well on my own and in a team”. It is in nearly every CV written. This is where you need to showcase your personality.
Avoid “I am shy and retiring” and try “I work well when I can get my head down and do the task at hand”. Additionally, consider “My strengths are more data-based and administration skilled than a customer face type role”. Not every employer wants people who are fun, bubbly, outgoing and enthusiastic all the time.
Getting your personal statement right is vital. This is the first impression the employer will have of you when they receive your CV. Your aim is to entice them and make them want to continue to read.
The key is to use examples to back up your claims, but do not overdo it. As an example, I would suggest you aim for around 150 to 170 words (or five to six lines), and you will be about right.
2. Are you unique?
Yes, you are. You will have some unique selling points or USP’s. If you are not sure as to what these could be, ask your close associates, friends, relatives or even customers who you have helped.
Job hunting is very competitive. That means that for every application you submit, you could be up against many other candidates with similar skills. If you have a USP, it can set you apart. Think about:
- Do you have your own blog or website?
- Do you undertake extracurricular activity?
- Do you undertake volunteer work?
- Do you give back to the community in any way?
- Are you a group leader in an activity?
- Do you use social media to network with other business people?
- Have you ever won an award related to the role you are applying for?
- Have you been recognised for your work by your managers/directors?
All of these things can help you stand out in a crowd and can show you have a “business head” or potential leadership skill. Additionally, they provide topics for discussion at your interview and make you rememberable.
The other important thing to consider is, if you get an interview, the interviewer may introduce a subject you are passionate about and get you talking. You will relax a little, and they will get an opportunity to see your real personality shine.
Also, if a candidate who has a blog, dedicated to their field of expertise, can draw attention to their commercial awareness and extensive knowledge of their subject area, it can only help their application. Think about how YouTube has enhanced some careers. A word of warning, be credible on the internet, otherwise it could have a detrimental result on your career.
5 CV skills employers look for in every jobseeker
- Commercial Awareness
- Communication skills
- Organisational skills
- Job-related Skills
3. Relate keywords in the Job description with Keywords in your CV
I am not advocating you should include one in every sentence – but I am saying that you should bear them in mind while writing your CV because many employers and recruiters use keywords in job boards to search for candidates. They often base them around the job title they are hiring for, along with the requirements and duties involved with it.
Ensure you are ticking all the boxes. Always check the job description and company website for specific words and phrases the employer might be looking for. This could range from making the most of synonyms so you can cover a variety of different job titles (e.g. Retail Assistant, Sales Advisor, Shop Assistant, Customer Service Assistant, Customer Service Advisor, Retail Advisor, etc.). If you can get these synonyms in your CV to be more industry-specific with your terminology, it means that when a recruiter/hiring manager is searching for a CV, yours is more likely to be chosen or viewed on a job board.
4. Use proactive descriptions
It is easy to say you are good at something, but you must present evidence which can be much trickier. To make sure you are providing tangible examples for every skill you mention, try to use the STAR model. Once you have identified the ‘Situation’, ‘Task’, ‘Action’ and ‘Result’, you can formulate this into short vital points, including how you achieved the result and how your actions addressed the initial situation and task.
There are two examples below:
This will help you to communicate key points clearly and concisely within the job details section of your CV. It will also mean you are able to go beyond your past responsibilities, to cover results and achievements, which – let’s face it – demonstrates what you are capable of more effectively.
For example, saying you ‘worked on social media’ does not widely inform the employer. But saying ‘increased social media engagement by 20% through the implementation of a new strategy’ is a much better way of quantifying your abilities.
As a salesperson, if you state “I was successful” it means nothing; however, “I was successful because I was responsible for finding my own leads, contacting these leads and following up my leads with appointments to discuss successful gains in the business. This, in turn, lead to a 25% increase on my year or year gross profit and 16% nett operating profit”. An expansion of details about how and why you were successful means a whole lot more.
N.B. if you are a sales professional and have got this far on “Does your CV stand out from a crowd” well done, I would have no doubt lost most of you by paragraph 3.
5. Tailor your CV to the job
Let me return to my earlier statement: “Do not be a Lazy CV Slinger”.
For years I have been frustrated as to how lazy job seekers are, especially when it comes to the “Window to your career and who you are”. Your CV is not a ‘one size fits all’ document.
By sending that same CV every time you apply for a job, you will not be doing yourself any favours when it comes to impressing an employer. I met a lad once who had sent over 250 applications using the same letter “Dear Sir / Madam” and same “one size fits all” CV.
He has not heard from one employer (do not be surprised by this, some employers can be as lazy as some applicants).
He had not tailored his CV to the job he had applied for or bothered to find out who he was writing to. There is no excuse in this day and age to be sending impersonalised letters, especially a “To whom it may concern” letter for a job application. At worst, find out a line manager’s name and address it to them.
You should adjust your CV and bring it in line with the role you are applying for – using the job description, company information, and any other details you find from industry research as a guide.
If you have applied the “Adjust your CV” rule above, employers will be impressed, and you are far more likely to gain an interview. Your CV is all about selling yourself effectively, emphasising your skills and expressing relevant experiences.
Adjusting your CV might take a bit more time, but it is better to send off five carefully tailored CVs than submit hundreds that do not accurately represent your suitability. If you have not mentioned a skill you have, and an employer is looking for it, you have failed yourself in the basics of applying for a job successfully.
6. Nailing the basics
Your CV won’t stand out if you do not get the basics right.
In addition to the above 5 points, it is vital to write a CV that is clear, concise, and to-the-point. Ensure common grammar errors or typos are not holding you back – always read your CV thoroughly before submitting it. Get your best English student friend, English student family member, or someone you know with a keen eye for detail, to confirm it is correct. It may be a surprise to know that my daughter who studied and passed her A-level English at grade B casts her critical eye over all my work to create my website, including this document, to ensure it is grammatically correct and has no spelling mistakes.
Finally, make sure your CV layout is easy to navigate, with your personal details, personal statement, work experience, achievements, education, and hobbies listed in a logical order.
If you are struggling to get started, try my free CV layout.
May I wish you success with your CV. Oh and, if you do not mind, I would like to see a copy too.