When applying for a job the most important thing to remember is that you are marketing yourself. You could be the perfect candidate, but if you fail to market yourself correctly no one will ever realise your true potential! You need to emphasise the best of your experiences, education, skills and sell yourself to the best of your abilities. Provide only what you want people to read and present it in an easy to digest format. The latter is really important as according to the undercover recruiter the average time spent looking at your CV is 5-7 seconds.
Now don’t let this scare you off. By following these simple Do’s and Don’ts you can transform your CV and make it the key that unlocks your perfect job.
DO keep it relevant: There is no point including experience not relevant to the work you are applying for. If you are applying for a restaurant job, then it’s great to include your summer job at the local pub. However if you are applying to a law firm, it’s not going to add a great deal of weight to your CV.
DO quantify your experiences and make an impact: By highlighting important metrics that quantify your experiences within the industry, you can really make yourself stand out. Quantifying your experience allows you to show how your success is relevant. If you raised money for a charity, say how much money. If you hosted an event that was successful, explain how large the event was. Instead of saying “Wrote blog posts for company website resulting in increased lead generations”, you can show “Wrote 10 blog posts per week for company website, compared to the company average of 6 per week. This resulted in a 40% increase in lead generation”. By describing how the blogs affected the company leads, you can show how you personally effected the business and added tangible value. Quantifying achievements highlights your accomplishments and paints you in a good light.
DO NOT include a photo - unless you are applying to a modelling agency or are an actor! But even then you should have a portfolio really and not use your photo on your CV. It can come across as unprofessional to include an image of yourself. Trust that the employer will want to hire you on your experiences and achievements alone, and not a photo. According to the undercover recruiter there is an 88% job rejection rate if you have a photo of yourself attached on your CV.
DO use buzzwords to your advantage: Using buzzwords related to the type of company you are applying to will benefit your CV. As I said previously, the average time spent looking at your CV is 5-7 seconds. By having relevant buzzwords on the page they will stand out and spark an interest within the employer. For example if you are applying to a start-up innovative company, perhaps include words that show you have had experience of innovation.
e.g. “Created a YouTube campaign for X that gained 5,700 views”.
And if you were applying to a marketing firm, highlight the fact that you marketed this video
e.g. “Marketed a successful YouTube campaign for X that showed its success with 5,700 views”.
Both are admirable achievements showing your experience within the necessary industry, but by tailoring them with the relevant buzzwords you boost your CV even further. Also note that you have quantified your success by using 5,700 views – that’s a lot of people looking at something you have done!
If you have done an internship, think about how you describe it. Don’t just put “summer intern for X”, put “Marketing intern for X”. It sounds better and the shows you have relevant experience.
DON’T have an unprofessional email address. firstname.lastname@example.org might have seemed like a great idea when you were 15, but an employer may not going to take you seriously with an email like that. Keep it professional and use your name. 76% of CVs are ignored if your email address is unprofessional. You could have everything an employer is looking for but if you have a ridiculous email that instantly puts you on the back foot.
DO use easy to digest formatting. You are trying to catch the employer’s eye with a short sweet and relevant CV. So don’t have paragraphs of text; instead use structured and simple points. Make it easy for your employer to read, using bold font to highlight key phrases and bullet points can help you with this. Save the flowery details for when you are asked to interview!
DON’T list your references on your CV. References should always be on a separate page, not the CV itself. References will be requested, and the employer will know that so don’t put ‘references available upon request’. By not listing your references on your CV you will save yourself space, as well as your employer time.
DO make your interests more interesting! Everyone likes to ‘travel’ and ‘watch movies’. Why not make your interests a little bit more interesting than that? This is the last point of your CV that the employer has to get to know you a little bit outside of your work. So instead of writing ‘movies’ why not write ‘Woody Allen Movies’. You might have a real passion for Thai cuisine…. put it down! Obviously don’t write an excessive list, just pick three or four of your favourite things down and make them as original as possible (without making them up). This is your last chance of a bonding opportunity with your future employer. Make it worth it - you never know, it might just be the clincher that makes them ask you in for an interview.
DON’T make spelling and grammar mistakes. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Your CV could be instantly dismissed if you have any spelling or grammar mistakes. It makes you look unprofessional and careless – two qualities no employers look for. Send your CV to someone you respect in order for those niggling mistakes to be found. Most university students have access to career centres and free CV counselling clinics – take advantage of these!
And finally DO NOT sell yourself short!