Ex-recruiter Anthony Barter shares his essential tips to make your CV stand out and land that important first interview.
- Keep your CV to two pages max
Employers/recruiters receive hundreds of applications for competitive graduate roles and can take on average a mere six seconds on each CV!
Keep it efficient, pleasant to read and packed with key information that will captivate a recruiter’s attention. Often the employer won’t read your CV from top to bottom but will spot key points that catch their eye. If you write with this in mind you’re on the right track.
2. Choose a professional looking font
This is the first thing employers and recruiters will see. Use a professional looking font such as Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman or Open Sans.
You might be surprised at the number of CVs I’ve reviewed with questionable fonts and colours. On the other hand, I’ve seen many great-looking CVs, which didn’t include contact information at all.
I would also recommend including a link to your Linkedin profile, if you have one. This can be another opportunity to see endorsements people have given you, and your interests, or links to any portfolio pieces that could be relevant.
3. Include a term-time address and home address, if applicable
This is definitely a student-specific point, and will only apply if you have two locations, but think about this: you could be the perfect candidate but if an employer sees that you live in Brighton they’re likely to not bother reading the rest of your CV if the job is in Newcastle.
This won’t be a big deal if your home address and term time address aren’t drastically different, however it is good practice. Provide two addresses, clearly stating your university address and home address.
4. Make your profile punchy and short
How you construct your profile is down to personal preference. Some employers/recruiters might like the opportunity to get to know what type of person you are, and what career aspirations you are working towards. However, be warned, this isn’t an area to ramble about your hobbies and interests, especially as they are the first thing a recruiter will see after your name and contact.
I recommend keeping this area concise, summarising who you are (relevant job/personal traits e.g. personable, organised, motivated), what you are studying and what career goals you have in the future.
Writing about yourself in third person often looks more professional.
4. Avoid cheesy buzzwords and back up your skill set with evidence
Share evidence of your skills, especially if you are a student or recently graduated and don’t have much workplace experience to fill out your CV.
Buzzwords might sound impressive, but are often generic and don’t really say anything specific about what you can offer.
The ‘skills’ section of your CV is where you should reference evidence for your abilities. I recommend the headlines shown above. Try to tailor any experience to the role for which you’re applying… even if it’s team work in a society at university, or leadership in a group presentation project. It will make you stand out much more.
5. Order education before work experience
If you are a student/recent graduate I would recommend putting your education first in chronological order, most recent first. If your degree or education is relevant to the job you’re applying for, expand this section and include bullet points on modules you completed to really stand out.
Your work experience should follow in a chronological list. You should demonstrate responsibilities you were given in each role, and evidence what each experience taught you. For example, instead of saying: “Inputted data on spreadsheets” say “Responsible for accurately recording and interpreting data, demonstrating competency with Microsoft Excel”.
6. Show off important computing skills
There are some key skills, like the ones listed above, that most employers LOVE. Anything additional that you haven’t covered before could be keywords that your future employer could spot in the short time they have to glance at your CV.
The rest is down to you.
Just remember, persistence is key. The graduate job market is extremely competitive, so don’t feel discouraged if an employer hasn’t recognised your talent from an eight-second glance at your CV.
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