Your CV is usually the first introduction to an employer or recruiter and, as we all know, first impressions mean a lot. When you may have spent years successfully building your career you can ill afford not to capture this in a way that shows you in your best light and gives you the best chance of landing that dream job.
Viewing hundreds of CVs every week, our specialist recruitment consultants are familiar with the common errors that people make when they’re applying for a job. Here’s some great tips on how to create a compelling professional CV that will stand you in good stead.
1. The perils of spelling and grammatical errors
Ensuring that your CV is free from any spelling or grammatical errors, as well as being easy to read, will show an employer that you’re conscientious and take pride in your work. It helps to ask someone else to look over your CV too in case you’ve missed anything.
Stephen O’Connell, Business Development Manager – Rail and Civils, warns:
“Check the spelling and grammar. It sounds obvious but I see hundreds of CVs every week with basic mistakes. Clients have often told me that anyone with mistakes on their CV won’t be shortlisted for interview. Don’t just rely on the ‘spell-check’ button. Read it and read it again.”
2. Simple formatting
Use a clear and professional looking font, such as Arial or Tahoma, as stylised fonts can be difficult to read. Only use bold text for heading and avoid using italics or underlining.
Rebecca Bainton, Talent Acquisition Initiative Manager, expands:
“As CVs are often photocopied, coloured text or highlighting should be avoided as these can show up as a light grey once copied. If there is something important you want to highlight, ensure to include this near the top of your CV so it isn’t missed.”
Stephen O‘Connell continues:
“Try to keep your CV on a standard Word format and refrain from using options like tables and text boxes. Complicated CV files can become corrupted when uploaded onto company sites or when clients add their own CV coversheets.”
3. Be clear about qualifications and work experience
Daniel Lovejoy, Business Development Manager – Signalling, stresses the importance of checking your qualifications:
“When putting qualifications and competencies on your CV, ensure that they’re correct and up to date with the correct expiry dates.”
Stephen O’Connell adds that you should “make sure you add the dates to your work history, including the months. For example, just putting 2016 to 2017 could mean you worked for one week or two years and will leave the recruiter with lots of questions.”
Once you’ve finished getting the details right and you’ve tailored it to the job role, always complete that final check before pressing send.
4. Let your achievements do the talking
Sometimes just listing your experience and qualifications can be like reading the job specification back.
“Simply doing the job is one thing, how well you do it will take my interest, and that of most hiring managers, to a whole new level” says Richard Lawrance, CEO of Resourcing Solutions. “After 30 years in recruitment I am far more interested in what applicants have achieved in the workplace, than just having a job description cut and pasted in to their CV and then sent back to me. Provided it is clear that they possess the essential requirements to do the job, I will focus on what key achievements they have as a core criteria when deciding whether or not to call someone to interview.”