Written by Joshua Wright
Ever wondered why some people get every job they apply for whilst other qualified candidates seem doomed to eternal rejection? Your CV could be letting you down. The CV is the first thing companies look at when considering new candidates to hire, therefore it’s essential your CV leaves a good impression. In an increasingly crowded job market where it’s hard to get noticed by employers, it’s never been more important to have a polished professional-looking CV. This article outlines some top tips on how to improve any résumé and will hopefully make it a little easier to get an interview next time you’re job hunting.
The process of structuring a CV can be daunting, particularly when there are such a wide variety of templates to choose from online. Ultimately, whilst there is no right way to structure a résumé, most CV’s have some form of the following segments:
- Personal Statement – A short summary of any past experience that is specifically relevant to the job you’re applying for.
- Contact Details – This section enables the employer to reach you should your application be strong enough to warrant an interview. It should detail your name, address, phone number, and email.
- Qualifications – Detail awards or certifications you’ve attained: a University degree, A-Levels, BTEC, GCSE Grades, Duke of Edinburgh Award, and any Online Course qualifications would all be relevant here.
- Past Experience – Any past roles you’ve had including information on how long you were in the posts and what the job entailed. Internships and work experience are also worth mentioning, particularly if you haven’t had much formal employment.
- Hobbies/Interests – This section is not crucial, however, if you have a hobby that you feel would be relevant to the application it couldn’t hurt to mention it. If nothing else it gives the employer something to talk to you about in an interview.
- References – Provide contact information for someone who could provide a character reference. Alternatively, you could just put “References available upon request”.
2. Don’t just Describe, Demonstrate!
Unless you demonstrate your skills with evidence an employer may dismiss your CV as empty rhetoric. Therefore, as well as listing the skills you possess it is necessary to highlight how you used that skill in the past. If you claim to have excellent organisation skills, demonstrate an instance in which you effectively organised. For example, a student may be able to cite an instance when they helped plan a social event. Ultimately, don’t claim to have skills that you can’t back up with evidence.
3. Tailor the CV to the Employer
CVs are often treated as a universal document that can be reused over and over again for multiple job applications. However, the most successful applicants adapt their CVs to better reflect the necessary skill set of the job they’re applying for. For instance, a Digital Marketing agent will likely deem graphic design experience more important than a headmaster seeking to hire a new P.E. teacher. Conversely, whilst a love of sports would be an essential quality for any P.E. teacher, it would probably add little to a digital marketing application. When reviewing dozens of applications, a CV that demonstrably aligns with the companies values and prominently highlights skills relevant to the job will undoubtedly stand out when contrasted with a generic application. Here are some tips on how to adjust your CV to match a job description:
- Read through the job description carefully, identifying the skills you have that could be especially applicable to the role you’re applying for
- Familiarise yourself with the employer’s website to better discern the organisation’s aims and core values
- Adjust your CV accordingly, using your research to place greater emphasis on any relevant skills and experience you may have
4. Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar
If you can’t get the basics right on a document as important as a CV, why would employers think you could be trusted to deliver them a high standard of work? There are a few easy ways to ensure you don’t fool prey to simple grammatical errors:
- After you’ve completed writing your CV, leave the document for a few day’s before re-reading it – Your more likely to spot mistakes when the sentences aren’t fresh in you’re memory
- Have a friend or family member review your application
- Copy and paste the text of your CV into the Grammarly website. Although there is a premium version, the free plan has all the functions you need, identifying typos, spelling and punctuation mistakes.
- Use free online Text to Speech software to hear the document read aloud – This is particularly helpful for identifying where commas are needed
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