Your CV is the key item in the jobseeking toolkit. It's the introduction to your outstanding range of skills and your first chance to impress an employer or recruiter.
A good CV needs to outline your skills and suitability for a role and should make clear to a recruiter just what a shocking mistake they'd be making if they decided to overlook you. On average, recruiters spend just eight seconds scanning a CV to see whether or not you're The One. So make sure all the key information is upfront and in their face.
Here are CWJobs' top five tips for giving your CV maximum impact and getting your foot in the door:
1. Tailor your CV
Make sure you tailor your CV for every job you apply for. Read the job description and required skill set and ensure you list your key skils and experience first. Recruiters are faced with multiple CVs for every job they advertise. By making sure you have all of the key skills required for the role you'll immediately save them a whole lot of time and effort and ensure your CV goes to the top of the pile.
2. Keep it concise
Your CV should ideally be no longer than two pages of A4. Recruiters need to know about your skills and previous work experience so they can assess your suitability for the job on offer, but they have many CVs to read through in a day and won't be impressed with a detailed five-page history that includes your time at computer camp when you were 12.
Rather than writing long paragraphs about time spent in a specific role, bullet point key bits of information. Address all of the key skills required in the job description but remember that your CV is only the first step. Save the detailed explanation of your suitability for the role for your job interview. Basically, don't give away the farm.
3. Don’t leave gaps
Leaving gaps in your career history just makes recruiters and prospective employers wonder what you were up to during that time. List any gaps in your career with a suitable explanation – whether it was a career break, travelling or locking yourself away to become a god at World of Warcraft (be warned: this reason might not go down so well…)
If you undertook any additional training during this period, make sure it's listed alongside any other activity you undertook which may have helped develop other transferable skills such as communication, team work or project management.
4. Remove the errors
Well, duh. Sounds like it's up there with 'did you try switching it off then on again?', but one of the main reasons for CV rejection is errors and spelling mistakes. It's not likely that the recruiter is on the lookout for a literary god, but always check your CV for basic spelling mistakes and grammatical errors – don’t just use your spellchecker (it might be a computer, but sometimes it lies – possibly just for fun), get a friend or relative to proof read your CV as well.
5. Tell the truth
Always tell the truth about your skills and experience. If you don’t, you'll be caught out at some point – whether it’s during the interview process or, far worse, when you've actually got the job.
Most companies will check the facts you've stated like qualifications and previous employment history, but this also includes hobbies or interests you've listed. You never know when you will be faced with an interviewer who also has keen interest in kite-surfing and pulls you up when you can't name the best board to buy.