Did you know that—on average—recruiters and hiring managers spend only seven seconds reading your CV before signing you up for an interview—or tossing that precious piece of paper in the trash? That’s not a lot of time to impress a potential employer. But the slush pile doesn’t have to be your job-search fate. Dawn Rasmussen, certified CV writer and founder of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, along with Glassdoor’s own tips from its Ultimate Guide to CVs, will help you craft a CV that’ll grab a recruiter’s attention.
1. Clear and concise formatting.
You may think that adding graphics or other infographic elements will make your CV stand out. But before your resume makes it to a recruiter, it will most likely have to pass through a computer scanning program, and those fancy shapes and symbols can confuse a computer. “If you’re sending your CV as an online submission,” Rasmussen explains, “those sexy graphics won’t make it through the software system that is set to scan through your document. In that case, it is important to have a graphic-less document so you can get through the software.” Another tip to get your CV into the right hands, literally? Scan the job description for keywords you can add to your CV, our guide instructs. If the job calls for a “self-starter,” a “leader,” or someone “eager to learn,” be sure to add those in.
2. Organized information.
According to Rasmussen, “ask any recruiter or someone tasked with looking at CV day after day, and they’d say that most people do a horrible job organizing information.” By organizing your CV in a clear way, you’ll already be steps ahead of the competition.
There are many ways to organize a CV, but two good formats suggested by our guide are the chronological CV and the functional resume. In a chronological CV, you focus on “your recent work history above all,” our guide instructs. “List your positions in reverse chronological order, with the most recent positions at the top and the oldest ones at the bottom.” In a functional CV, your aim is to “emphasize the relevance of your experience,” according to our guide. “To create a functional CV, you’ll prominently
feature your professional summary, your skills, and a work experience section organized by how closely the positions relate to the one you’re applying to. This format is best for those who want to minimize CV gaps, or are transitioning into a new industry.” You can also do a mixture of these styles, which is called—surprise!—a combination resume.
3. Defined sections.
No matter what kind of CV you decide to create, whether a chronological or functional CV, you will want to make sure each section is defined. “Guiding the reader through what you are going to discuss next is key,” Rasmussen explains. “They don’t want to be left guessing what you are discussing.” Mark each section of your resume in bold, she suggests.
4. Quantified results.
Don’t just say you increased your company’s sales—show how much you increased those sales with numbers, our guide instructs. “Use your CV to explain concrete accomplishments,” it says. “Make sure your statistics are consistent, percentages are properly placed and business jargon is used appropriately based on the industry.”
What’s more, you may want to bold those numbers and accomplishments. “Bold and front-load your notable accomplishment stories underneath each employment record,” Rasmussen suggests. “Want to get to the point even more? When you are talking about your on-the-job wins underneath each employer, bold the numbers and outcomes from each story. That makes them pop—especially when recruiters are doing the quick once-through on their initial review of your document. Numbers and results bolded at the front of each sentence make it easy for them to see to what degree you are getting stuff done.”
If you go on and on and on in your CV, you may lose your reader—and the opportunity for an interview. “Being efficient in how you move the reader through the document makes it cleaner and easier to understand,” Rasmussen says. “We are now in a skimming economy, so getting right to the point cleanly is critical. So, try this tip: if you have held multiple positions at the same company, stack your job titles and dates worked, starting with your most recent and going down to the oldest, instead of having a separate job entry for each position. This stacking maneuver attracts hiring manager attention because by putting the positions underneath each other, it demonstrates that you were progressively promoted.”
One way to keep your CV short and to-the-point is to “only include the skills that truly make an impact—not ones that are basic requirements [such as Microsoft Word or an ability to use email] or irrelevant to the job you’re applying to,” according to our guide.
6. Well-crafted descriptors.
Guess what? Everyone is a hard worker on their CV. So our guide advises you to ditch the generic and vague descriptors you might be apt to use, such as “hard-working” and “self-motivated,” which are a dime a dozen, and use more specific phrases. “Focus on the skills and accomplishments that set you apart from the competition,” the guide advises.
7. Demonstrated reliability.
One thing every recruiter will want to see on your CV is reliability. “If you frequently change companies without changing levels or positions, it can be a red flag to recruiters that you are unsure or unreliable,” our guide warns. So that you’re not flagged as a flaky employee, “consider only listing the companies that best align with your desired industry.” If you do that, our guide adds, “you can always add a foot-note [that reads like] ‘prior work experience in a different field, more information available upon request.’”
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