CVs Should Work for You
A candidate recently asked me, 'why do recruiters always change my CV, what's wrong with it?'
It struck me as an interesting question, a lot of the time there is an assumption that because you have a role, you must know how to write a good CV? But the likelihood is, you have had this role for several years, and in fact, your CV skills are not 'polished.'
In the current climate, more and more people are finding themselves writing new CVs for prospective roles and the most critical question, seems to be, 'how do I make sure someone reads my CV?.'
Keep it Simple
Most agencies will have software that enables them to upload CVs on to a database. As a result of this, each CV will get parsed, and keywords may be tagged. Long story short, the agency will ensure that CVs all have the same look and feel when they get to the hiring manager. Adding in multiple boxes, tables, borders and photos of yourself increases formatting time, which means it will take longer for your CV to reach the hiring. The answer: Keep it simple.
PDF vs Word?
Where possible stick with Microsoft Word for agencies, PDF for internal is better for you, it is unlikely that internal recruiters will reformat your CV. Most applicant tracking systems cope well with PDFs, and the beauty of PDF vs Word is the lack of red underlines when someone opens it.
Be Relevant, Be to the Point
An internal team will receive hundreds of applications for one job – many of which may not be the right fit. They have to read all of these CVs in turn and carve these down to a shortlist for the hiring manager, who will need to read each one in turn before deciding who they would like to meet. That is a lot of CVs to get through. So try to keep your CV as short and as relevant as possible.
Ensure that you understand the job description and the role required of you and make sure that your background and skills demonstrate that. I always recommend bullet points. If you are writing a paragraph, try to make sure the most valuable information in the first and last sentences.
Achievements, Successes and Skills
When writing a CV, it can be relatively easy to fall into the trap of over-complicating your role and what you do. We see day-to-day responsibilities in a job get confused with the achievements and successes you may have during this time. It would help if you also remembered that internal teams and agencies are trying to define who you are and what you can do. Skills are an essential part of being considered for submission, and achievements are what make you stand out. As such, try to clearly signpost and define your skills and achievements separately for complete clarity, this will help you get through a CV sift.
Dates, Dates, Dates
We love dates on a CV. It may sound silly, but it's our job to check for gaps and ask questions about those. Having all timeframes accounted for throughout your career will help your application progress. Don't be afraid to account for personal sabbaticals such as travelling, or looking for work. You will be asked about these upon your telephone interview, and you will likely have to revise your CV in time for submission. Some candidates are nervous about doing this, but try to think of this as objection handling.
Top tip - a common mistake that occurs when people update their old CV with a new job is forgetting to put the end date of the last position.
Be Socially Savvy
Social links are always useful to recruiters and hiring managers, make sure you have your LinkedIn, GitHub, blog or personal website included. Add icons or hyperlinks to make these stand out and make it easy for people to find them. Be visible and wherever possible, try to ensure your LinkedIn Profile matches to your CV.
Put Yourself Out There
Considering where to post your CV is essential, you want to make sure that your CV is visible for roles that you want to consider, and not for those who will approach you with offers that are entirely outside your remit. With that in mind, the most crucial start would be to make sure your CV is visible on Linkedin. LinkedIn is the most used networking platform for internal recruiters and agencies alike, particularly for professional and specialist roles. Ensuring that your profile and CV match and are accessible here, means that you will have a higher likelihood of approaches and recommendations for jobs – especially if they are in your network.
Fresh Eyes and Self Promotion
Once you're happy with your CV, it's great to get another person's perspective on what you have written. A fresh pair of eyes to check for any lurking grammatical or spelling errors is invaluable, in fact, essential. Friends or colleagues may recommend aspects or skills that you may have overlooked.
In certain instances, you may be in a position to ask your boss or hiring manager if they have any recommendations that could give you an edge for a future role. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback at this point as it may be vital for future interviews that you attend.
Ask clients, suppliers, contacts who work in companies you would be interested in working for if they have time to cast their eye over your CV. You never know, they may have a job for you or know of an opportunity.
Don't Forget Job Boards
Create a job board profile on more than one job board. Please don't put your CV everywhere, but many agencies have reduced their job board costs post COVID, so promote yourself on more than one major board. Consider what role you would like for your future and research the job boards that you feel will offer you that opportunity. Be careful to read the job descriptions advertised carefully, as recruiters can see how many/what kind of roles you have applied for and you do not want a sporadic approach. Be measured and value your abilities.
If a recruiter finds your CV on a job board and wants to send your details over for a role, check which version of your CV they have and ask if you can send a tailored one to them after reviewing the job description.
Candidates have a lot more control over their data since GDPR, so it is easy to remove your CV and request that the agencies who downloaded it remove it too once you have secured a job.
Ultimately, due to these unforeseen times, the market is employer-led, and candidates find themselves in serious competition for sought after roles. By following these simple steps, you can be confident you are doing the best by your CV.