Employers usually receive large numbers of job applications for each position, so it is important that your CV is professional and sending out the right message. There are various resources across the web that you can utilise to measure how effective your CV is, including free CV reviews which we offer here at CV Nation. Here are some tips from our professional CV writers to ensure your CV stands out and makes a good first impression.
Key Achievements – Focusing on your key achievements in your CV is a great way of impressing recruiters. As recruiters and employers sift through hundreds of CVs, one of the key things they want to see is how you can add value. The most effective way to do this is with specific numerical details that demonstrate the tangible results you have delivered. For example, ‘Improved customer satisfaction’ doesn’t instil much confidence in the reader regarding the legitimacy of the achievement. On the other hand, ‘Reduced customer complaints in the Birmingham branch by 18% by removing bureaucratic processes to decrease waiting times’. This achievement tells the employer what you achieved, where you achieved it and how you achieved it.
Make your achievements stand out even more using active verbs and dynamic language. Avoid passive language to ensure you come across as an achiever who plays an active role in the success of operations. Getting your key achievements across in the right way is one of the most important approaches to professional CV writing.
Length and Content Volume – A good CV can be anything from one page to four pages. But, ideally, you should be aiming for a two-page CV. In most cases, this will give you adequate room to showcase your experiences and skills and sell yourself to the reader. If you have little work experience, a one-page CV might be a better option.
Try to focus on the key points rather than squeezing in as much text as possible and ensure to use bullet points for ease of reading. CVs that are too wordy are a big turn-off for recruiters. Not only are they unattractive and unpleasant to read, but the most important information is also difficult to locate. Somewhere in the middle of those large chunks of text in your CV might be a key achievement or a central piece of information that could have a very positive impact on the employer. Unfortunately, there is a good chance he or she won’t manage to find it.
Grammar/Spelling – Grammar and spelling errors throughout your CV are an easy to way to end up in the no pile. Anything from apostrophes in the wrong place to minor spelling mistakes can result in your job application being chucked out. Grammar and spelling errors scream unprofessionalism, which is exactly the image you don’t want to portray on your first interaction with a potential employer.
Many people aren’t spelling and grammar experts, so in many cases it pays to ask someone who has the know-how and writing expertise to proofread your CV prior to sending it off to recruiters. Here at CV Nation, we offer CV proofreading services at competitive prices, so don’t hesitate to ask us to check your CV before you compete your job application or post your CV on job boards.
Tailor Your CV – Make your CV unique and relevant to the position that you are applying for. Find out what the company you’re applying to is looking for and present yourself as the ideal candidate in line with their expectations. Make it even more effective by tailoring it to the specific industry you are targeting. For example, if you are applying for a job in account management in the software industry, focus more on your experiences selling software rather than your other experiences in account management.
Another way to tailor applications is by preparing cover letters that are targeted to the company you are applying to. Detail why you want to work for the company. Research their history and their culture. Find out what they pride themselves on. Then tailor the cover letter with this in mind. However, it’s important to do this in a way that is genuine. Make sure you don’t come across as pretentious by exaggerating your interest in working for them.
ATS – ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is a form of recruitment software the enables the electronic management of parts of the job application process. The software automatically filters applications in line with specific keywords, skills, years’ experience, schools/universities and previous employers. This software is now being employed by many smaller companies, so it is constantly becoming more important to ensure your CV is optimised for ATS. Here at CV Nation, our professional CV writers are specialists in writing CVs that are ATS friendly and pass through ATS systems.
Use Specific Skills – Ensure to be specific when highlighting your skills by including skills that are evidence-based. For example, stating that your skills include ‘Organisation’ doesn’t add much value unless you back it up with specific examples. You can be sure almost every other applicant’s CV will also claim to have organisation skills. However, if you change organisation to something specific like ‘Diary Management’, you have now included a skill that you can physically demonstrate.
It is also beneficial to use your career history to demonstrate your skills without appearing to intend to do so. For example, instead of including ‘Communication’ in your skills section, you could include a line in your career summary that shows how you have used your communication skills. This might be, ‘Engaging with key stakeholders on a weekly basis in London and holding in depth consultations to gather requirements and confer on progress’. Remember, a good CV will show your skills rather than tell the recruiter about them.
Experience – Many people make the mistake of not clearly demonstrating their experience. For senior level professionals, one of the most important aspects of CV writing it to illustrate your years’ experience within your industry. Within a matter of seconds, the reader should have a clear idea of your level of experience. This can be achieved through a number of ways including inserting a header at the top of your CV that indicates your professional experience.
Employment Gaps – Employment Gaps are not always a problem. In some cases, you might not need to draw any attention to your employment gaps, but more often than not it is a good idea to explain why you were unemployed and how you spent this period of time. Identify the positive aspects of your unemployment and include those. For example, did the period of unemployment enable you to gain perspective or reflect on your career? Did it provide you with the time to undertake career-related training in order to improve your skill set? The most important thing is to be honest; most employers will respect your integrity and place value on the experiences you gained during your period of unemployment.
LinkedIn Profile – Including a link to your LinkedIn profile is great way to optimise your CV for today’s job market. Over 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn every day, so professional LinkedIn profiles are now playing an important role in job-seeking. Enabling recruiters to click through to your highly-professional and engaging LinkedIn profile could put you in the recruiter’s yes pile, so make sure the link is clearly visible and clickable in the contact details section of your CV.
Identify Your Achievements and Strengths – Some people struggle to identify their own capabilities and accomplishments. Have you gained international exposure by working in countries across the world? This is a valuable experience that should be highlighted. Or have you gained a breadth of national experience across multiple cities such as London, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol? Make sure to draw attention to this. Sometimes you might not realise that you actually possess skills that employers are looking for, so it can be beneficial to get in touch with professional CV writers such as CV Nation who are capable of doing your career justice.
Another important aspect of your application to consider is your cover letter. Most employers ask for cover letters alongside your CV, so it is important to prepare an engaging cover letter that illustrates your capabilities and encourages recruiters to spend time reading your professional CV. Ideally, covering letters should be around 250- 350 words. Don’t clutter the page with too much information. Ensure your covering letter is crisp and to-the-point, with dynamic language.
If you need further help or would like a new CV written, feel free to get in touch with our CV writing experts at CV Nation. We are experienced in all areas of CV writing, from CVs for graduates to specialist CVs for specific industries. We will be by your side throughout the whole process of your job search, utilising our many years’ experience in the professional CV and career industry, as well as the know-how and expertise to optimise your CV for today’s job market. We are highly-rated and trusted, with many verified Trustpilot reviews. Book your free, in depth consultation today.
Alternatively, get a free CV review on our website for tips on how you can turn your document into a professional CV yourself. Our free CV review is a manual review of all aspects of your CV by one of our professional CV writers, from content and grammar to ATS compatibility and design.