You could be an interview pro, but if your CV isn’t up to scratch you won’t even get your foot in the door.
Make your mark with a CV that nails it – take some advice from some of the world’s leading HR and hiring managers to ensure you’re not overlooked before you’ve even had a look in.
It isn’t just Drake who preaches about starting from the bottom. Your CV is the first thing a recruiter sees and if it doesn’t contain everything your potential boss needs within an easy-to-read and error-free document, you’re likely to get dismissed at the first hurdle.
As a minimum, Eleanor Howe from recruitment agency JFL Search & Selection says that typos are the ultimate chance killer, so ask a friend to read over yours for you.
Beyond that, Howe advises leaving the Scouts badges off, but serious qualifications from college onwards are a must, as of course are up-to-date contact details: “You’d be surprised how many people leave them out.”
Your CV should be short and in an order that makes sense, which in practical terms means it should be no longer than two pages and well-spaced.
Naomi Aharony, HR manager at Reboot Online Marketing, says a reoccurring mistake is applicants not ordering education and employment history chronologically: “In this competitive job market, experience counts for everything and provides a good indication of how fresh someone’s transferable skills really are.”
Time To Move On
You wouldn’t tell a new partner about your high school fling, so take the same approach with your CV. While it can be tempting to include every role you’ve ever had, you’re just clouding what’s really relevant.
“Most employers won’t pay much attention past the most recent years,” says Nick Grantham, manager at creative recruitment agency Source LF. “In some cases, it can even put people off if they have to wade through pages and pages of writing to get an idea of what you’re good at.”
It Does Matter If It’s Black & White
We shouldn’t need to tell you that using Comic Sans and clip-art is code for ‘I’d rather be in the Job Centre queue’. However, Giffgaff Money recruitment lead Luke Hextall also says trying too hard to make a CV stand out with its design could be doing more harm than good: “I’ve never been a fan of overly flamboyant CVs that are multi-coloured or filled with pictures. It just makes it look like you’re filling space.”
Think you can get away with any mistakes because of that beautiful face of yours? Wrong. Every hiring manager we spoke to said they are put off by CVs that include a photo. If they want to see what you look like, they’ll stalk you on Facebook (so avoid a NSFW profile picture at all costs).
First impressions count, so once you’ve got the layout sorted, you’re probably going to want to include a statement about yourself.
Kat Aznar of recruitment company RevTech believes in avoiding buzzwords that are unrelated to roles you have held or the one you’re going for: “Generic statements such as ‘I am well-organised and hard-working’ are immediate turn-offs,” she says.
So put down the dictionary and stick to what you know, or you could put your foot in mouth when you get quizzed on it.
Honesty is the Best Policy
According to employment agency Reed, 25 per cent of CVs feature ‘alternative facts’ – ranging from little white lies to absolute whoppers.
According to Claire Harvey, a senior divisional director at the firm, simply changing your job role or grades can be classed as fraud: “Employers do check to make sure there are no discrepancies on your CV, so honesty is always the best policy.”
If you’re applying for a mid-level job, don’t brag about senior management skills unless you’re a serious blagger – you just might get pulled up on it.
While your CV is important, the cover letter is where you can inject some personality to separate you from the rest of the herd.
Reed managing director Tom Lovell says: “Find out who the hiring manager will be and address it to them, and always write a new and relevant cover letter for each job you apply for – recruiters can spot a ‘copy and paste’ job instantly.”
So don’t cut corners here, it’s the professional equivalent of a mass Tinder message…