It’s competitive out there. Many jobs have dozens and dozens of applicants, so in order to get that all important interview, your CV has to work incredibly hard. But how do you do that?
Lead with benefits, not features.
Your CV is selling you, and people don’t buy things based on features, they buy things based on the benefits they bring.
“I’m good at managing my own time” is a feature of you, but it doesn’t explain the benefit the reader will gain when they hire you.
“Efficiency and productivity are two crucial things I’ll bring to this role, because I’m good at managing my own time.” lets them know your skill will add value.
If you can explain why your skills are useful, you’ll show an understanding of the job role and you may even highlight a benefit that other candidates can’t bring to the table.
Keep it short and sweet.
Don’t use seven words when four will do. If there are a lot of applicants for the job, your CV might only get a matter seconds to impress before the reader moves on. Be as concise and impactful as possible.
Use fixing points
As mentioned above, your CV might not get the attention you think it deserves. In fact, it might only get a glance. A glance can take in up to ten fixing points on an A4 page, each lasting 0.2 seconds. So yes, it might only take someone two seconds to decide whether or not they will actually read your CV.
Believe it or not, humans are actually capable of making judgements that quickly about whether something is relevant or suitable to them. So, make it easier for the reader to pull out key information at a glance. Instead of using subheads like ‘Experience’, ‘Education’ and ‘References’, use ‘2 years at company XYZ’, ‘3 top A-Levels’ and a quote, like ”the best employee I’ve had in years!”
Obviously you would go into further detail underneath, but use emboldened subheads that will stand out, make an impact and stick in the memory of the reader.
Write, read, rewrite, repeat
Your CV isn’t done when you’ve finished your first draft. Read it and edit it, then get other people to read it and edit it again. Sometimes you can spend so long looking at something that you just become numb to it. Ask your friends or parents what they think of it. And read it aloud. You won’t get a true idea of how it flows unless you read it aloud.
Embellish, but be honest
Whatever you do, don’t lie on your CV. It might not come back to bite you, but if it does, it’ll be costly.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t polish the truth. Remember, you’re trying to make yourself sound good, so use positive spin.
After I worked as a salesman in a call centre straight out of uni, I wrote on my CV, “I won various awards for sales,” which is true. But there was a prize for the top salesperson every week. I worked there 8 months and won twice.
As long as you can substantiate your claims, don’t be afraid to embellish a little.