Five Ways to Keep Your CV Out of an Employer's Shredder
If common knowledge is to be believed, it’s never been more difficult to find a job. Those ‘in the know’ are recommending that people stay in jobs they hate, simply because the job market is a little more saturated than it used to be. But why should you keep grinding away at a job you don’t enjoy when, with a little (or a lot of) effort, you can land your dream job? All you need to do is be sure that your CV sells you the best it can. A huge proportion of candidates never make it to first interview for the simple reason that their CV fails to stand out. So what can you do to stop potential employers taking once glance at your Curriculum Vitae then running it straight through the shredder? Here’s five top tips to give you a great place to start.
Remember you’re not writing a story
Perhaps it goes without saying, but your CV needs to be an accurate account of your achievements, with little to no embellishment. The golden rule of writing a CV is never, ever lie. Not even a small white one. It simply isn’t worth it. Imagine that you get the job you’ve been so desperate for: it’s week 3, everything is going well, then your new employer decides to check some of your claims. Suddenly that year’s internship you claimed you did at Google doesn’t seem like such a good idea. You’re back at square one. So, bottom line: always make the most of your achievements, but never invent them.
Always get straight to the point
Depending on the role, a recruiter may get hundreds of CVs a day. They then have to sit and wade through every one to pick out the diamonds in the rough. If you don’t mention your key achievements until the bottom of page two, chances are they won’t be seen. More often than not, the recruiter will be scanning CVs to cherry pick the best of the best. In order to be in that number, your key achievements need to shine through from the very beginning.
Don’t be too graphical
If the job you’re applying for is a creative or visual role, chances are you have a portfolio to accompany your CV. This means that you don’t need to make your CV look like a showcase of your work. We’re not saying don’t lay it out well to make it eye-catching, just don’t lather it in pictures, logos, or graphics. Let the words do the talking. By all means use text formatting to best effect, and maybe even include some sort of striking header that grabs attention - but don’t make your CV too ‘in your face’. It could end up backfiring on you.
Proofread, proofread, proofread
We can’t stress this one enough: always proofread your CV multiple times. Heck, hand it out to passers-by for them to check. Just be sure it’s word-perfect. This is especially important for any role that requires word processing, like office jobs. There’s a large proportion of employers out there who will shred your CV the instant they spot a spelling error - so don’t give them any ammunition. You want to seem like the perfect candidate, so your CV needs to reflect that in its composition.
Keep it brief
Put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter: would you want to sit and read through ten or fifteen pages just to get a feel for someone’s experience? Of course not. Especially when there are 100 more CVs on your desk, all of which do what yours is aiming to in a quarter of the pages. The point here is, keep it simple. Distill your CV down into one or two A4 pages listing your main achievements – internships, online degrees and top roles are obviously more noteworthy than the Saturday job you had back in your early teens. You really don’t need any more than that. Be concise in your descriptions of experience and previous roles, and never fall into the trap of thinking ‘the more the better’. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
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