How to get your CV noticed

The UK job market is thriving but the number of candidates often significantly outweighs the number of job roles.

So how can you make sure your CV stands out and doesn’t end up on the rejection pile?

Make it relevant

Greg Statham, managing consultant at Macildowie, recruitment consultancy, says many people’s CVs are just an updated version of something they wrote when they were 16. “The last two roles that you have had are most likely to define the type of role that you secure next,” he notes. “The achievements should be tangible. Did you help to increase revenue? Did you have an impact on margin and what was the percentage improvement? Did you drive a reduction in costs? Make these specific, clear and overt.”

Make it on point

Statham says: “It’s also crucial to think about the order of your main points. The most complex and senior elements of your job should be at the top. Don’t just have a brain dump of the things you do most regularly. Your audience needs to identify your seniority in a post straight away.

Don’t use generic terms

“Something along the lines of, ‘I’m an AAT qualified accountant with a track record of delivering management accounts, financial reporting and reducing costs’, sounds much more impactful than “I am a nice, intelligent individual that works well on my own or as part of a team,” says Statham.

Think about using the right ‘buzzwords’

Mark Walker, finance director at Integris, says you have Mark to use the right buzzwords to ensure that your CV is picked up in word searches. “Do not use corporate jargon that is specific to a previous company you have worked for,” he notes. “If you are responding to an advertisement and it uses specific terms, tailor your CV and use those terms.

Do not presume that the technology, or the recruiter, will know that there could be multiple terms for the same thing e.g. “accounts payable” is the same as “purchase ledger.”

Do it yourself

Walker advises not to spend hundreds of pounds on people who offer ‘professional CV writing services.’ “It’s just is not worth it,” he says. “Most of it is common-sense and a good recruitment consultant will always be happy to offer help and advice for free.

If you spoke to a hundred different people, you will get a hundred different pieces of advice on CV writing, so do not get too caught up with hard and fast rules.”

Keep it clear and concise

Tracey Hudson, managing director of The HR Dept, says photos and listing hobbies are a big no. “We don’t want to have to read through lots of irrelevant information and your new manager isn’t going to choose you because you are a great snowboarder or love gardening,” she says.

“Don’t waste valuable space on your CV by adding in references either. We will ask you when we need that information.”

Tailor your CV to the job advert

“A job advert will usually include a list of duties or responsibilities and requirements of the successful candidate. Read these and ensure that your CV highlights these points,” Hudson advises.

“This makes it easy for the recruiting manager to see that you have relevant experience and qualifications and add you to the shortlist. Realistically, when you have hundreds of CV’s on your desk, you spend under a minute glancing at each one so if it is too hard to work out if your experience or qualifications match what we are looking for then you will be put on the rejection pile.”

Explain anomalies

“Did you leave school or college at 18 and go travelling on a gap year? Are you a mum who had a couple of years out of work raising your children? Were you really naughty and spent some time in prison? Whatever the reason is, explain the gap in employment,” advises Hudson.

“Consider and highlight the skills that you have developed during those periods. Just because it wasn’t paid work doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable experience to a new employer.”

Georgina Fuller is an award winning freelance journalist and editor.

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