Let’s face it, CV’s are as boring to read as they are to write. Thankfully, you only have to write one; recruiters have to read dozens. With piles of applications to read per job and sometimes multiple jobs open at a time, it’s only natural that many recruiters skim CVs for important, stand out details. So, what should you do to make sure your CV stands out and ticks all the necessary boxes?
Here are five important things employers notice in your CV:
If you’re applying for a job that requires a specific skillset, there’s a good chance that whomever’s reading your CV will be scanning it for those particular skills – especially if it’s been sent in online. Ctrl + F is a recruiters best friend. For this reason, it’s important to be clear and concise when writing your CV; it’s possible that you could have the exact skills required, but still not get called in for an interview due to poor wording.
Employers will also look for tailoring in your CV. I know plenty of people who make one generic template CV and send that to every recruiter possible without any kind of editing. They also wonder why they never get called back. Search through each application, take care to find those particular keywords and reflect them in your CV. If the employer has used any specific wording to describe a requested skill, duplicate that wording in your application.
Your history will always be one of the first things any employer worth their salt will look for. Of course, they’ll be checking out your education and your past work experience, but they won’t stop there. Employers will home in on your working timeline and make sure your history makes sense chronologically. Extremely short tenures and large employment gaps are the kinds of red flags employers will immediately notice. The same can also be said for an unusually long tenure in a single role; this can be perceived as a lack of progression.
It’s important to sort your work history out and decide exactly which jobs are relevant and which jobs are not. Chances are, your average engineering manager probably doesn’t care that you worked in a café when you were 17. However, some irrelevant jobs may need to be kept to avoid large gaps. If you switched jobs and worked in a different sector for a few years, you need to keep that in, otherwise your future employer will wonder what you were doing around that time.
You should also remember to show any advancements earned alongside your place of work. If you worked for the same organisation for 10 years and were promoted twice, you can’t just list your last job title – as it will look like you never advanced at all.
Employers will certainly know a thing or two about their respective industries, but they can’t be expected to know everything. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that anyone reading 50 CVs with the task of finding a notable candidate would look for recognisable and thusly trustable brand names. This goes for both work history and education. Well-known companies, start-ups, and reputable universities all bode well with employers.
It’s more than possible that you may have worked for an extremely reputable organisation that an employer would not recognise by name; if this is the case, it’s worth adding a few words next to the name to explain what the company does.
It’s important to remember that employers are looking to recruit a person, not a machine. They want someone with character, someone with a genuine personality, and while that can quickly be discerned from an interview, many employers will jump at the chance to understand their candidates better before calling them in. For this reason, employers always check out any social media accounts that are linked on your CV, so they’re definitely worth adding. This could be a LinkedIn account, a professional twitter profile, or both.
LinkedIn especially is becoming increasingly essential. In many ways, it’s like a second CV, just with a healthy injection of personality. Just make sure not to show too much personality. I’d advise against linking your personal facebook.
Frankly, I could re-write this entire list and have every single point be common sense and it would still be applicable. You can get an interview without a Linkedin account, without any keywords or recognisable brands, you can even get an interview with a big, unexplained, decade long employment gap – it’s unlikely but it’s possible. You will not; however, get an interview if you don’t use common sense when writing your CV. For that reason, common sense is by far the most important aspect of any application, and what an employer will look for above all else.
Using common sense means professional email addresses only! If your email address isn’t professional, make a new one. Whatever you do, don’t use the embarrassing one you made when you were 13.
Writing style is also extremely important, that goes for both grammar and formatting. Make sure your CV is written in a clear and professional manner with no typos. It’s imperative that you use a professional, readable font, and format your CV in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing. Presentation will always be the first thing an employer will notice and if your CV is written in size 8 cursive with a nonsensical format, you’re not going to get very many replies.