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Better CVs Benefit Everyone - Top 3 Candidate CV Improvement Tips

Bad CVI think it’s fair to say that as recruiters we’ve seen our fair share of badly written, hideous looking and just down right awful CVs sent to us by hopeful candidates, in our time. But on the flip side we’ve all also seen at least one immaculate, easy to read, visually pleasing, gem of a CV that was a pleasure to read and resulted in us making a great hire. What if every CV could be like that one? It would certainly make our jobs a little easier wouldn’t it? So with that in mind we decided to compile a short list of the Top 3 ways candidates can improve their CVs’, in order to help us improve the way we hire. A sort of recruiters helping candidates helping recruiters kind of thing. Check out our…

Top 3 Ways for Candidates to Improve Their CVs:

Fabric CV1. Know your Industry
If you know what type of area you want to work in (marketing, retail buying, legal, IT, web development etc.), then put some effort into finding out what is expected, accepted and desired of people within that chosen profession. If your chosen industry is a creative one, don’t be afraid to try something a little different. Strong ideas and innovation are rewarded in creative fields e.g. a fabric CV for a fashion buyer or costume designer. Also consider whether or not a portfolio is more apt to use as your CV than a written one, this would certainly be true of a photographer or model.

If it’s a more corporate or financial role you’re looking for then something more simple, straight forward and standard may be required. In this instance, a simple, clean, clear and well laid out CV is best.

Consider also whether a paper or an online CV would serve you better. IT and web related roles would probably prefer to receive online CVs with interesting programming/coding elements to them or even a specially created website with similar qualities. In this case, show what you can do, but remember whatever you do, to ensure that it is easily assessable at all times. Excessive loading times or an incompatible browser will only result in your beautifully crafted CV being ignored and unseen.

Search for examples of CVs in your industry e.g. creative or corporate, to see what other people have done and how they’ve done it.

Chuck Norris CV2. Layout & Format

Rule No. 1 – Include headings. Headings make CVs easier to read, as at a glance a recruiter can see your skills, educational background, previous experience and personal interests and easily refer back to them as he/she needs to.

Rule No. 2 – Use bullet points. Instead of creating large, hard to read passages of text, use bullet points to quickly and simply list your qualities. When creating the text for these bullet points, think of it as an SEO (search engine optimisation) exercise. Ask yourself: “what is the best and quickest way to say what I need to”? We’ll discuss this further in the content section.

Rule No. 3 – Make it visually pleasing. Does the flow of the CV take the reader on a journey down through it? You should never be confused about where to start reading a CV; keep this in mind. Also never underestimate the power of colour when it comes to making a winning CV. Touches of colour here and there can help break up a CV and make it more pleasant to read. Similarly, instead of the usual black writing on white paper for a more corporate CV, why not try white writing on a black background?

Rule No. 4 – Keep it all to just one page. By forcing yourself to keep your CV on one side of an A4 page, you are showing the reader you are disciplined and restrained enough to create a document that is to the point and contains only the important elements you need it to.

Keywords3. Content is Key
Your CV should answer the job spec you are applying for. You need to show the recruiter that you have all the skills, qualities and educational requirements he/she needs to fill the role successfully. Ask yourself, “how can I solve the need the company has?” Which of your skills are most relevant to the job? Ensure the information you provide about yourself e.g. educationally and skills wise, is relevant. Pulling pints in a bar is not a relevant skill when it comes to software development, so leave out that summer work experience!

Be careful not to fall into what we like to call ” The Recruitment Black Hole”. Have you ever sent off a CV in answer to a job spec only to be met with an empty email inbox and a quiet phone? If so, you fell into the recruitment black hole; your CV was never seen by a recruiter, it was screened by a computer before it ever reached a recruiter’s desk. Computers are programmed to only select CVs that contain a number of relevant keywords relating to the job posting. This is why it is extremely important for you to think of writing your CV as an SEO exercise. To avoid falling into the black hole, pick out the keywords from the job description you are applying for and make sure you use them when describing your skills and experience e.g. CSS, Java, HTML, inbound marketing, Photoshop etc.

Make the recruiter want to meet you. Have an interesting hobby or passion? Put it in there. We like to meet interesting people with personality. By demonstrating a passion and interest in a particular sport, craft etc., you are more likely to engage us as a human being and help us get to know you and connect with you. It’s also a great conversation point if you get an interview.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start writing that winning CV every recruiter is just waiting to receive! Still need some more inspiration? Then take a look at some great overall ideas to get those creative juices flowing, here.

Are you a recruiter wanting to vent about a really bad CV? Or are you a job seeker with more CV questions? Just leave us a comment below and we’ll do our very best to lend a hand or be that shoulder to cry on!

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