Hiring managers spend just 7 seconds looking at a CV on average as they will receive hundreds of CVs every week. Therefore, making sure your CV stands out and grabs their attention is crucial! Your CV is likely to be the first impression a hiring manager makes and they’ll have criteria to judge candidates on – so you need to make sure your CV matches those requirements. We explore the best ways you can boost your CV to get the attention you deserve.
Your CV will is likely to be the first impression a hiring manager will make of a candidate. They’ll have criteria that they’ll be judging candidates on, so you need to ensure your CV matches that criteria, so try to adapt a CV for each role you apply for.
Don’t forget the basics
We’ve heard horror stories from hiring managers who receive an amazing CV from what appears to be the perfect candidate – only to find the candidate has left off their contact details! The candidate almost missed getting invited for an interview because of this common oversight. Let it be a lesson to always remember the basics of a CV. Luckily the hiring manager was able to track them down after a few days of investigative work.
Secondly, make sure you read through your CV thoroughly before applying for the job. Cut out any spelling or grammar mistakes (includes switching previous role descriptions from present to past tense – that’s a common oversight). Make sure it reads clearly and it’s easily understandable too.
A CV is a personal reflection of you and your experience, and every CV will be unique. However, while the content will always be different, there are several set rules regarding the structure and sections you include. There could be some flexibility depending on your level of experience. We recommend the following structure:
- Name & contact details (phone and email)
- Summary – a short paragraph showcasing your experience and aspirations
- Skills – keep it short and highlight your strongest skills, plus when you’ve used them
- Experience – run through your career starting with your most recent role to your first job at the end
- Other relevant information – Extracurricular activities or interests that provide additional unique skills
- References – it’s absolutely fine to provide these when requested
When writing your CV, the experience section is the area recruiters and hiring managers will likely check first. Therefore, make sure you provide a concise recount of your responsibilities and previous employers.
If you’ve always worked in the same industry, then always start with your most recent roles, working backwards to your first job at the end of the section. However, if you’ve moved between industries and particularly roles, then you may decide to split the experience section in two – the first for relevant experience, the other to provide context and fill in the gaps.
Secondly, make sure you give a detailed account of the company. Too many people miss this trick and waste time for both themselves and the hiring manager. If you’ve worked in a large corporate with multiple business units, mention which departments you were working in. Don’t just state the corporate you worked for – stating the departments will help frame your experience in a positive light and make it even more attractive if you have the right experience.
On the other hand, if you’ve worked for a small or medium-sized business – anywhere from 2 – 200 employees – then provide a brief description of the business. The hiring manager may not have heard of the employer, so save time by providing a background yourself. By providing that description yourself, you can highlight certain elements of the business’ operation which the hiring manager might overlook when checking themselves.
Quantify your experience
Throughout your career, you’ll have targets and you’ll achieve things that you’re incredibly proud of. Highlighting achievements and statistics within role descriptions can legitimise your CV and greatly improve your chances. Use your targets and showcase how often you beat them and by how much.
If your role is less about targets, then highlighting key achievements can be an excellent way of showing the hiring manager you’re the perfect candidate. You might be restricted from mentioning particular projects, however you can provide an outline of the project and its importance.
Content over design
It’s only natural to ensure a CV looks the very best it can, but unless you’re applying for a creative role working with graphics, our advice is to keep the appearance simple. That’s not to say you can’t deviate from the bog-standard black and white CV, but keep any design elements simple so the hiring manager’s attention is drawn to your experience – rather than wondering how long it took to design the CV.
If you’re applying for a creative role, make sure you include links to your work or showreels. In a creative role, you’re far less likely to have statistics to support your experience, therefore showcasing your work can elevate your application.