Director & Head Recruiter at Purple Squirrel Recruitment, Anna Hodges, says the most common question she’s asked by applicants is how can I stand out? “Surprisingly, my top tips aren’t the newest or trickiest ideas. They’re about going back to basics and making sure you are remembered for the right reasons,” she says.
- Check Spelling and Grammar.
This sounds simple and I can already see the eyes rolling! But you wouldn’t believe the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors I read in C.Vs. Get a friend or family member to double-check it. The last thing you want is a mistake when saying you have “excellent verbal and written communication skills.”
- Use Easy-to-Read Font.
Apple Chancery might be your absolute favourite font because it looks so pretty, but if human resources or a recruitment manager can’t understand the writing, your C.V is going to the bottom of the pile!
- Correct and Visible Personal Details.
Ensure your name, address and contact details (mobile number and an email address) are included and on the front page. If I can’t find these details within a few seconds, it’s all too hard.
- Include a Cover Letter!
This will make you stand out, as many candidates can’t be bothered. Personalise the letter and explain why you have applied for the role and why you’re suitable. Make it relevant. This is especially important if you are changing roles, careers or are moving locations; you need to explain your story and why you are applying for the role.
- Personal Summary or Profile.
There is debate amongst recruiters about the need for a summary but I say it’s a must! It’s a short summary (one paragraph) that explains who you are, where you have come from and what you are looking for. It should be on the front page of your C.V after your personal details. It gives the employer one more reason to call you.
- Keep it Short and Sweet.
Three pages (maximum) is ideal. You don’t want to bore the reader and remember that if they’re searching through a pile of C.Vs, they won’t have time to read it all. A great format includes:
- A Summary
- Education History
- Work History
- Other Relevant Volunteer Work or Hobbies
- White Space.
Just like silence in an interview, it’s ok to have a bit of space. Cramming everything onto one page in 8-point font just to squeeze it all in isn’t a great idea! Remember, someone needs to read it!
- Make it About YOU!
This is your chance to sell yourself. Use your skills and experience to show your strengths and make them relevant to the role you’re applying for. If you’re applying for an administration role and you only have experience washing dishes in a café, use it! You could say you work towards required targets (those dishes don’t clean themselves) and you can manage many priorities from different people within a short time-frame.
Your C.V is Your Marketing Collateral.
The aim is to get the reader to call you to organise an interview to find out more about you. That’s the goal, so keep that in mind when writing or updating your C.V.
Have someone read your C.V for a different opinion and to make sure it’s relevant. Or better still, chat to a recruiter in the field you want to work and ask for their advice.
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