Is your CV selling you? Try These Tips!

First, the basics – Correct Contact Details.

Your contact details must be up to date, and correctly spelt. Remember that errors can cost you  a Job?

It is not uncommon to get CVs of candidates whose contact details are incorrect or the emails are miss pelt hence bounces. That is a straight ticket to missing out on an interview.

Furthermore, when job hunting and you get a missed call of an unknown number, please do call back. Sometimes, when there are so many job applicants, the recruiter moves on to available candidates. A call back also means you can make follow ups which is a plus in itself.

 

Second: Read the Job Specification then respond like for like

Are they looking for a Customer Service Executive? Do you have have similar skills? Any achievement around retaining a client or up-selling through your outstanding customer service? Highlight that.

Use keywords specific to that job you are applying for.

That means if you were to apply for an Account Manager position, then you would rewrite your CV to capture your Client relationship skills.

Basically, one CV is not one fit for all jobs. And if it is not an entry Level position, then be selective in putting your energies in positions that you are confident if hired, your would excel. What we mean is, if you are sending out your CV to 5 different jobs with different job titles and you have the right skill set thus are sure you can do either of the job, then you will be writing 5 cover letters and 5 CVs highlighting why you are best suited for the different roles.

 

Third: Beauty lies in the Eyes of the Beholder

This is all about formatting, spacing, fonts, layout and length. We did share a few fonts that are most attractive in the last article.

Your CV body font should be between 10 and 12 points and the headings to be 14 and 18 points. When it comes to margins, a 2.5 cm is decent enough. The right spacing does bring out clarity and professionalism.

We have seen CVs that are 16 pages long. The common rule of the thumb is that your CV should be at a maximum of 2 pages . If possible one page.

What is the length of your current CV?

To let you in on a secret, a CV gets on average a 90 seconds view and from there it is either, “Trash, Consider Later or Good to Shortlist” . So next time you are writing your CV, try picture where you want your CV to land and what you can do about that

It is advised to save your CV in a PDF format unless advised otherwise. This is because a PDF document will maintain its formatting no matter the device used to open it.

Furthermore, another reason to save your CV in PDF format is that most PDF files can be easily opened online thus you get a faster view visa-a-vi a word document file that must first be downloaded before viewing. When recruiters are working against time and they get great pool of applicants from those already viewed online as their CVs are in PDF files, the rest may have to wait for another day.

 

Fourth: The Content

This is where the rubber meets the road. The meaty stuff in your CV will get you the well deserved interview.

Your CV should be written chronologically including both years of graduations and work experiences.

If you have been out of school for 5 years and less, then you start with your education then go to experience.

If you have been working longer, then the experience takes precedence and later include your education details.

Do not exaggerate or falsify information for either the work experience or education. The best of recruiters will sniff you out once they do their reference and background checks.

Do highlight your honors and key achievement.

Focus on your wins. Think through your career as you write your CV and do put effort into demonstrating your most significant achievements that could have led to getting awards, recognition, rewards etc.

Avoid too many bullet points and listing “your previous job description word for word”.

When talking of your work experience, try to think numbers and metrics. Be clear on the measurable and the quantifiable e.g, Instead of saying you were a Regional Manager at Company Y,  you could say you were Regional manager implementing new systems across 3 countries while managing 6 cross-cultural teams.

As for extracurricular activities, do focus on those that are most relevant to the job, in that they will add a special touch to show you can indeed do the job. It is a nice to demonstrate that you can manage a team as you hold office in a Not for Profit Community Organization and you have been instrumental in implementing the organization’s mandate even if you may not be in a managerial role in your current employment.

 

Final: References

Unless asked to include, you can always write a line, “To be Availed Upon Request” or remove the line altogether if you no longer have space.

Bonus Tip;

When submitting your application via an email address, please remember the following:

  • The Subject Line should be the Title of the Job you are applying for.
  • Do not send blank emails – share a little bit more about your suitability for the role on the body of the email
  • Follow instructions – if told to include a cover letter, do include a cover letter.

If you are working with a Leading Recruitment Agency, do ask questions about the potential employer and their expectation of interested candidates.

CV Writing? The Absolute DONT’s

“Have a better CV”.

“Change the titles”. 

“Make it shorter”.

“Use an attractive font”. 

These are common phrases I use in my day to day work as a Recruiter after speaking with a candidate who has great potential but sometimes, not such a good CV. The advantage they would have is that the Hiring Manager would listen to me since I have done the initial screening. However, were we to base our decision on the CV alone, the candidate wouldn’t stand a chance.

The reality is that not all companies use Recruitment Agencies and sometimes candidates must follow the application procedure set down by the Hiring Companies, meaning their CV will either be the tool to give them an interviewing opportunity or not.

So what are these mistakes that could be your downfall in a job search?

Typographical Errors (Typos, grammatical errors)

Spelling

I think this tops the list of the No-Nos when it comes to your CV. Such a mistake will take your application to the trash/reject folder faster than it landed in the inbox folder. Some of the things to do to avoid this deadly mistake include;

  • Proof read the CV.
  • Print out and check again.
  • Have a friend check for you because, let us be honest, it can be hard identifying your own mistakes.
  • Use other tools like Grammarly.
  • You can create your own resume proof reading checklist, or you can use this one that I found pretty interesting. In simpler terms, there is no excuse for such an error.

Lack of Consistent Formatting

Once you have made sure you have no spelling or grammatical errors, then you need to check your formatting.

Have a  form of consistency. From the font used, sizes, headings etc. Let there be a sense of a flow.

When not sure, look for templates online. There are a thousand of them that you can customize. Let the Recruiter want to read through your CV at just a glance of the CV.

Some of my favorite fonts that I have used so far include;

  • Gill Sans
  • Cambria
  • Garamond
  • Calibri
  • Georgia

This goes to show you there are fonts that are not as attractive; rather they would dull your CV. Take time to research more and also remember that a Photographer’s CV would be very different from an Accountant’s CV.

Customize the format to your line of career and craft.

Gaps in your CV 

GAPSIt is encouraged that you write your CV in a chronological order including the years and months of the start and end of each employment.

Whether you took a sabbatical leave, time out to raise family, to venture into business, to do certain projects, take care of sick family member/relative etc, find ways to explain the same in your CV so that there are no gaps.

When you have gaps, it tends to leave an impression that you could be hiding something.

Irrelevant Information

It is advised that you do try as much as possible to keep your CV sweet and short yet giving a clear picture of who you really are.

Some of the things that are considered irrelevant:

  • Personal Information (Age, Marital Status, No. of Children, Gender, Religion etc).
  • Career Objective/Vision (Can only be useful if changing the industries completely hence a short summary why).
  • Copy pasting your current job description as tasks/responsibilities
  • Your Interests/hobbies (Unless it is in line with the position you are applying for).

Cliches and overused words

Instead, do find action words to use to display your competencies.

cv

Exaggerated information aka lies in your CV

Those who exaggerate or tell lies in their CV do somehow get caught.

My main question though is; why let a lie be the end of your career in the long term as your integrity comes into question?

Basically; what else have you/will you lie about??

There are other things to avoid such as listing too many jobs, too many bullet points, CV lacking sense of direction and progression of skills, qualifications not clear etc but I think they may not be as suicidal as those mentioned above.

A parting shot; when you get to the interview panel stage, make sure you can explain your CV in detail. Lack of doing so may just mean the end of the interview in that very moment. Master your CV, know it, every little detail and defend what you have written. 

For those in the job search, check our page for latest jobs and hopefully, with your great CV you get yourself an interview?

Do come back soon for the “Must to Do” for your CV to stand out.

 

Random CV Writing TIPS

 

Maybe it is time we did a recap of what we know when it comes to CV writing?

Below are random tips that I think can help your CV stand out you can get that desired job or an interview invitation at the very least.

Your name and contact details should obviously be at the top of your resume.

There is no need to include your home address really.

Leave out your personal information such as date of birth, religion, marital status etc. (There is a reason we have employment laws against discrimination in regards to age, race, religion and the like.)

When it comes to Email address, try keep things professional and avoid the ‘hotprettydude@youremail’ et al. Ideally use your first and last name.

Be careful on the long list of carefully selected key words used to describe yourself. Some get read but can work against you if you do not know for example how to explain “your strategic skills” in an interview and in most instances they rarely get read.

Volunteer work, involvement in clubs/societies and in the community; definitely include that.

Awards and scholarships – brag all you can. A resume is intended to sell you.

Experiment with a unique font other than the usual New Times Roman.

On the experience part, write more about what you did achieve as opposed to what you do/did.

And lastly for today, make it short and sweet. Try 2-3 pages tops and if you are new in a career, one page is actually fine.

Bonus tip: Tuck away your references till when asked about them as you want to be aware when they are being contacted and by whom. 

 

PS, Got more questions? Hit my  Twitter and our  Facebook so we talk.