The CV that “works”: Dos and Don’ts

It took you an hour to write your CV but it’s worth it, right? Now it’s ready to find you the perfect job, right? Hmm, probably wrong (sorry for that). Our experience –and a lot of research- show that the majority of CVs received by hiring managers fail to depict the skills and competencies of the candidates. In other words, it is highly possible that your CV is not, actually, working for you.

Think of the CV as a marketing document- you don’t have to be a marketer to do so. It is made to promote you, to grasp the attention of the reader, to create a positive emotion that will motivate the recruiter to meet you in person. In short, the CV is the tool that will get you an interview, so don’t underestimate it. Before going any further, take a look at your CV right now. If you were the recruiter, would you be triggered to meet you based on the CV? Let’s go through some points to make sure that the answer will be YES!

We strongly recommend to read this article through. But, if you suddenly feel deeply disappointed by your CV, you can send it to us to review it for FREE. Check our Facebook page for more details.

The elevator pitch

Begin the CV with a phrase that describes you and your main competencies. Make sure that if a hiring manager has a few seconds for you these 15-20 words will be enough to capture their attention.

Do: Tailor this introductory phrase according to the job you are applying for.

Don’t: Use clichés like “Innovative thinking executive”, “Team playing, human-oriented manager” etc. Since everyone states these, the hidden message is that you don’t differ from anyone else (and we don’t want that”.

Here are some examples:

A creative and strategic content creator with more than 5 years’ experience in diverse industries and media” –if you are applying for any of our content management related positions.

“Experienced FOREX executive with substantial experience in designing, leading and implementing a broad range of growth and development initiatives”- in the case of a managerial FOREX opening.

First things First

It is difficult to say that there is a standard structure of the information on the CV- like put business experience first, educational background later etc. Again, the rule is to keep the reader’s attention and prevent them from (mis)judging your CV as irrelevant. For example, if you are changing industries, listing your employment history in other industries right after the introductory phrase will not work. According to experts, a paragraph highlighting your accomplishment and skills that make you’re a good candidate despite the lack of experience in the industry can bridge between your experience and job requirements.

Many candidates prefer to start their resume with their academic background. This is a good practice if:

  •  you are applying for an academic position or
  • you are a graduate with no working experience.

Whilst in any other cases, listing your employment history before the academic background can be more preferable –and effective as it immediately highlights to a prospective employer the experience that you have that makes you a relevant candidate for the job.

“Ok, but what should I write in the employment history?” you ask.

It’s all about your accomplishments

After the dates of employment, the company and your title, you should elaborate on your actual role. Writing down your job description will not make the recruiter eager to meet you. Whilst it is really important to write your responsibilities and duties in a short concise manner, typically in bullet form, it is also important to highlight what you have achieved. And, don’t even think that your previous role was unimportant therefore there are no accomplishments to mention. Try to think strategically and identify the main performance indicator for the position, and focus on this. Let’s take the example of a Hostess at X Restaurant:

Do:         Significantly reduced waiting time, from 11 to 4 minutes, as a result of a well-structured reservations process that partly predicted delays and inconveniences.

Better customer satisfaction as measured on Tripadvisor- the restaurant gained 15 ranking positions during the employment period.

Don’t:   Managed the reservations and sittings on a 500 customers restaurant.

Would you read your CV?

There used to be the one-page rule for CVs, but- thank God for recruiters- it is not anymore. Shrinking spaces and using extra small fonts to fit two pages of information into one is no good, for anyone. Therefore, make sure that your CV is not overwhelming to the reader.

  • Use a classic font and the usual font size -11 or 12 points depending on the font.
  • Select and maintain a clear formatting style for the job title, the company name, the working period etc.
  • Proofread your CV and then proofread it again to make sure you have no spelling mistakes or anything that will give the impression of a sloppy candidate.
  • And, make sure that this document is written in a way that shows your real competences and not just lists your employment history. Again, you can always send it to our team to check it for you.

Bonus: A tip from our marketing team

As we said, the CV is a marketing document- the recruiter is the buyer. What we do in marketing is to focus on the advantages and hide any possible disadvantages- or at least try to make them less significant. In this vein:

  • Don’t follow this latest CV trend of presenting skills in bar charts or percentage format. Showing what you cannot do well is not an element of sincerity, it is a negative message that has no place in any marketing file.
  • Find any possible disadvantage of your CV and try to confront it beforehand. If you have changed multiple jobs in a short period of time, you’d better include a small paragraph before the employment history to explain the reasons why you should not be judged as a job hopper. If you have a big gap between jobs, if you lack academic background, if you live elsewhere (but you are willing to relocate) just make sure that you will provide the recruiter with some good reasons to overlook the disadvantage and consider you for the position.

And, a final word: Before applying for any job, spend some time to read your CV again and make any minor or major changes that will make it more relevant to the job you are applying. By tailoring your CV for the job you are applying you will immediately improve your chances of being invited for an interview. Following the One size fits all path will not help you here- so, here’s your chance to stand out. Take it.

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