If you want to land your dream job you need to write a high quality CV. It has to be unique and not just a generic ‘here’s everything I can do’ application. The employer isn’t interested in your entire career history and is looking for someone who can offer what they need as a minimum – nothing else matters.
The following 10 tips are the cream of the crop and are backed up by years of industry experience in recruitment and management. So without further ado, here’s our first and most common problem to avoid!
1. Make no mistakes
A CV cannot afford to have even just the one error. It says you are sloppy and prone to making mistakes – which is not something an employer can take a chance on. Your attention to detail is clearing lacking and you could be a liability.
Double check every aspect of your CV before you apply and allow the employer to judge you on your credentials. A spelling or grammatical error will detract from what could be a fantastic application.
2. Do your research
Before writing a CV you should research the company and the role. The more information you have the more likely you are to write a more focused application. There may be a current advertising campaign or a recent shift in the market. Anything that you can use to your advantage within your application will set you apart from the rest.
3. Check social media
Social media is another great place to start before you write a CV and apply. It will give you an idea of how the company faces its customers. What are the reviews saying? What could they do better?
The company may have just launched a new product or advertising campaign on Facebook, and it’s important you are up to date. Not only can you use this information for the focus of your CV, you can also discuss the company’s latest strategies in the interview – this will be a great way to impress!
4. Include a personal statement
A fantastic way to introduce your CV is through a personal statement. It should aim to cover three things – who you are from the perspective of your career, what you can offer the company (why you’re suitable, and your goals for the future.
Not every employer values a personal statement and some like to go straight the skills and qualifications. But without it your CV would look bare, and if written correctly you can make the hiring manager want to know more.
5. Tailor your CV
If you don’t write your CV for the employer you are missing out on a big opportunity to impress. A generic CV which you use to apply for numerous different roles is not going to make a good impression. It forces the employer to have to figure out if you’re suitable or not.
A tailored CV will take notice of every aspect of the role, and offer exactly what the company needs. Read the job advert closely and use your research to create a brand new CV specifically for an employer. It will stand out far better than a ‘one size fits all’ application.
6. No inappropriate email addresses
The email address you use as your contact info should be an appropriate one. Our advice would be to either use an address that has your name in it, or create one if you don’t. So avoid something like ‘email@example.com’ and go for this instead – ‘firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should always project professionalism throughout your application. Jokes can backfire, and you wouldn’t want your email address to hinder the rest of your CV. Creating a new email is also a good idea as it will help ensure there is little spam to get in the way of a job offer.
7. Write a cover letter
The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to the hiring manager. The standard approach would be to address it by name directly to the hiring manager. This makes the application more friendly and professional.
A cover letter should state the job title you are applying for, what interested you in the role and even how you came across the opportunity. You should then explain how your experience, skills and qualifications match the role. Finally, encourage the employer to read your CV and to thank them for the opportunity and that you look forward to an interview to discuss the role further.
Many job seekers fail to capitalise on this cover letter, partly because they feel it isn’t worth it. We can confirm that it is a valuable part of the application process and will definitely increase your chances overall. However, it’s important that you don’t make any errors and that the cover letter is written to a high standard. Otherwise it could damage your chances of getting an interview.
8. Use the right amount of pages
The typical length of a CV is two pages; however you can break this rule under the right circumstances. For example, if you have recently left education then a one page CV may be acceptable. With very little work experience or even none, you should be able to focus on your education within one page. Don’t forget however that voluntary work should go onto your CV, along with the tasks and any skills you’ve picked up or developed.
To go over to three and four pages you would likely be in a higher level position and have many years of work experience and/or lots of skills and qualifications. When applying for a job you should tailor your CV to the role and ensure that your application is relevant. If there is a skill, qualification or particular past role that isn’t relevant, then this could either be removed or kept in the background. This will then determine how many pages you need to use.
9. Show your performance
With so many other applicants all offering the right credentials, the employer has a difficult task trying to figure out who really can deliver the goods. There are lots of highly trained and skilled workers out there that are well qualified for their chosen career, but that doesn’t always guarantee a solid or even exceptional performance. So how does the hiring manager decide who the best candidates are to interview just from reading a CV?
It basically comes down to the applications which provide achievements and results. The employer needs to know how you’ve performed in the past so they can make a better evaluation based on both your skills and results. The combination of the two is what makes a great CV, and creates a far better chance of getting an interview.
10. Apply in person
You may not always get the opportunity to apply in person with your CV, and it isn’t always appropriate, but if done at the right time you could impress the manager. A good example of when this works really well is for a high street retail position or a restaurant. When the business is open to the public you can usually waltz right on in there and speak to the manager directly.
There are many advantages to this approach. Firstly, you are instantly putting a face to an application which sets you apart from anyone that has applied via email or post. Make sure you are dressed appropriately, so smart but casual is fine, and put on your best smile and make a strong handshake. You need to be friendly, enthusiastic and positive from the second you walk in.
Ask to speak with the manager and explain that you’d like to hand your CV to them directly. If an employee offers to take your CV you should politely decline and ask if the manager will see you. When the manager is unavailable you should check what time they might be free so you can come back another time.
This can be a very effective method of gaining an interview ahead of anyone else, because managers are naturally very busy people and would rather hire someone quickly if they can. What can happen a lot of the time with this approach is the manager may decide to interview you right then and there. It saves a lot of time having to contact people and you could just find you are on the receiving end of a job offer by the end of the day.