Recruiters are often short on time, so make sure your CV jumps out at them, and that you avoid some of the common mistakes detailed and backed up with statistics in this guide
Applying for jobs can sometimes be an overwhelming process, and writing a CV can feel like a huge task, but luckily there is plenty of information available on what employers are looking for, what turns them off, and the best practices for writing a fantastic résumé.
What’s more, each job description will usually give you all the clues you need to write the perfect CV for that specific job, if you know what to look for. Writing your CV doesn’t have to involve any guesswork – read on for an evidence-based guide to building a CV that will truly help you succeed.
Your CV should be tailored to the job you’re applying for
Whether you’re writing your CV for the first time or updating it for a new job search, be prepared to tailor it each time you come to apply for an individual position. So, start by making a note of your employment history, skills and experience, but then adapt it each time you apply for a position.
Those in charge of recruitment will often have a huge volume of CVs to work through. They therefore tend to scan CVs very quickly for specific keywords. They know what they’re looking for, and they will give more time to those CVs that jump out at them because they can easily see that they contain the relevant skills and experience.
It’s important to read the job description and personal specification of each job you apply for carefully and then update your CV accordingly to include the key skills and experiences mentioned. Look for keywords within the job description, and then use those same keywords on your CV when describing your skills and expertise.
Often when applying for a position, your CV will be checked by an applicant tracking system (ATS), which will analyse your CV to see how well it matches the job description and provide the recruiter with a score. Since recruiters have a lot of applications to get through, this means they will only look at CVs with a high score.
On average, around 75% of CVs don’t make it in front of the employer/recruiter because they haven’t passed the ATS tracking system on job boards, so it really is important to make sure that your CV is tailored for the job you are applying for, or it may not get considered at all.
Volunteer work is as valuable to an employer as paid work
Volunteer work may not earn you money, but it is a valuable use of your time because it enables you to learn new skills and gain valuable experience. Plus, employers love seeing it on a candidate’s CV.
In fact, 85% of employers are willing to overlook résumé pitfalls when an employee includes volunteering on their CV, and 82% are more likely to choose a candidate with volunteering experience over somebody without. So, think about what good you could do within your sector or your community on a voluntary basis – the next time you’re in between positions, or even alongside your current job – and include it on your CV.
Small mistakes can be costly
One of the most important things about writing a CV is the way you write it – everything from the tone of voice, to your attention to detail, should exude professionalism. Take great care to proofread your CV several times before sending it to any potential employers because small mistakes can see your CV thrown out in seconds.
On average, CVs are looked at for between five and seven seconds, and if any spelling or grammatical errors are spotted then your CV will end up on the discard pile – 43% of CVs written in third person are discarded, for example, so avoid making this mistake.
Your contact information should be professional
Make sure whoever is reading your CV knows where they can find you if they want to get in touch. It’s also a good idea to include a link to your LinkedIn profile to showcase who you are as a working professional.
If you have a portfolio of work, include information about where they can find this, as showing what you’re capable of is one of the best ways to showcase how you can be an asset to a new employer.
You might also want to consider signing up for a new email address if your current one is too personal, or outdated – 76% of CVs are ignored if the contact email address is deemed unprofessional. Keep it simple and try to stick to your name or initials if possible.
Kim Conner Streich is Marketing Director of Debut Careers.