It’s just 51 days before the New Year begins – and this is the time of year when many of us think about making a change. If your job sucks, now’s the time to make a fresh start with a new opportunity that will make 2018 your best year to date.
Chances are it’s been a few years since you last put together a CV and when it comes to preparing your CV, the ever changing expectations are hard to keep up with. Whether you’re updating an old CV or creating a new one from scratch, making sure it lives up to today’s expectations is paramount if you want to be successful.
Gone are the days when just your experience, skills and qualifications would guarantee you an interview. Now, everyone’s got a degree and there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around. For each position, where there would once be just 10 or 20 applications, the hiring manager now has the daunting task of filtering through hundreds of CVs to create their shortlist.
To give yourself the very best possible chance of making your CV stand out, here’s our nine must-do tips to help you land your dream job in 2018:
1. Include your social profiles on your CV
“70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring” ~ Lauren Salm, CareerBuilder, June 2017
There’s two things you need to know about recruiters and social profiles: first, they will go hunting for your Facebook and Twitter account anyway and second, they will be influenced by what they see. Use this as an opportunity to show you’re interested in and up-to-date with your industry.
Your social profiles can show you are connected to influential people and up-to-date with industry news.
Social profiles: top tips
- Ensure your social profiles include a neatly presented photo and appropriate screen name / ID.
- Ensure your LinkedIn profile is fully update and showcases your qualifications/experience to their full potential. For further advice on correctly formatting your LinkedIn profile for prospective employers, read this article.
- Ask others to write you a recommendation on LinkedIn – you might think this is a little cheesy but people do genuinely pay attention to testimonials.
- Ensure any information that could be detrimental is not visible to the public (for example, boasting about your horrific hangover on a Monday morning)
- Provide your Twitter and LinkedIn profile details in your CV, but not other social media profiles. Although recruiters will hunt down the other profiles anyway (so you will still need to clean them up and make them employer-ready), non-professional social networks are not appropriate for inclusion in your CV itself.
2. Provide alternative contact information
In this age your employer will expect to see your mobile and email listed as a bare minimum. Anything less than this, such as simply providing a landline, suggests you’re ‘traditional’ and not what an innovative, forward-thinking organisation is looking for. You could also include your Skype ID as well.
3. Ensure your CV is formatted correctly
A key element to the overall presentation of a CV comes down to its formatting which can help a prospective employer quickly find key information. If an employer finds your CV easier to read, there is a much higher chance of getting an interview. The top of the CV, for instance, shouldn’t have too much spacing, as this will push the important information further down the page than necessary.
Obviously you don’t want to also have the CV start too close to the top of the page either, so ensure you find a nice balance. Make sure you look at where the writing sits on the page before you print it out and ask yourself if it can easily be read on a computer screen. If you are e-mailing a CV to a recruiter, they will be opening your CV on a word processing program, so don’t make them have to scroll down just to start reading your CV.
One of the most important ways to correctly format a CV is to space out each section clearly with correct headers. Each section should be titled appropriately, and the heading should be in bold and slightly bigger than the paragraph text.
Using bullet points in your CV will also make it much easier to read. A recruiter wants to quickly read the important information before they go onto the next CV, and bullet points will allow the reader to take in each sentence far easier than if it was all jumbled together in a large paragraph. A great example of this would be listing your previous tasks, responsibilities and achievements using bullet points underneath the job title in your work history section.
4. Include a personal statement
The top part of your CV is the first thing, and possibly the only thing, that the hirer will look at. It goes without saying that this part has to stand out the most and instantly grab the attention of the reader, making them want to read more and find out what the rest has to offer.
The recruiter will only spend a few seconds reading this section, so you can understand how important it is to make a great first impression. If you have a lot you want to say and can’t cram it into a couple of lines, consider directing the reader to other places that showcase your skills – for example, a personal website that you’ve created. Example:
“I’ve designed more than 250 logos for organisations large and small – see my website for examples.”
Your LinkedIn information is also a great place for the hirer to start if they want to know more about your career.
5. Showcase your brand
Rather than following the usual dull objective statement format (“great communicator” “work well on my own or as part of a team” etc), instead you should consider showcasing your qualifications and skills to ultimately say to the employer – this is why you should hire me!
Avoid the usual cliché key words and statements, and make the reader take notice of what you have to offer. Ensure it’s tailored to the role/organisation so it can be clearly seen you are the right person for the job. A generic CV that doesn’t highlight your qualifications and skills relevant to the role is not worth the paper it’s written on.
6. Tailor your CV to the role/organisation
It’s crucial that your CV completely represents how you are the right person for the job. Most CVs make it hard for the recruiter to pick out the relevant skills and qualifications that relate to their specific vacancy, as the CV is too generic. Even if you are applying for 10 jobs at the same time, your CV has to be tailored to each role – EVEN if it means you have to create ten different CVs! No matter how similar each role you apply for may be, the organisation is always going to be unique in how it advertises the vacancy, and this is where you need to do your research.
- What is the Company trying to accomplish?
- What is their USP?
- What are they looking for in an employee?
- What is important to the Company?
- What qualifications and skills are they looking for or expecting?
For most companies, checking the website, particularly the most recent blog posts – and the Company’s social media profiles – will provide you with enough information.
If you’re applying to a PLC, the Company’s annual reports are a great source of information.
Once you’ve answered these questions you can then begin to create your CV. Be careful not to make it too obvious that you’ve written it just for them. Instead use subtle placing of appropriate keywords to ensure the recruiter not only notices that you are qualified for the role, but also that you share the Company’s goals and direction.
7. Showcase your results and performance
It isn’t enough these days to simply state where you’ve worked and how great you were in a previous role. Recruiters are now looking for more information as to what you actually brought to those roles.
Avoid cliché sentences like, ‘I achieved outstanding results’. Instead you need to provide more information, and even consider offering actual numbers to what was achieved. A great example would be if you were applying for a Sales Executive position, and you have some previous experience in sales. You could state, ‘I was the highest seller for 3 months straight, with a total of 24 sales’.
If you worked great as part of a team, how can you actually prove that? Is the recruiter meant to just take your word for it, or can you supply more information to help explain why this is so? Look for real-world examples to back up any such claims, together with examples to demonstrate your skills.
Also, don’t forget that you are tailoring the CV to the role too, which means you can highlight the relevant results to show how well suited you are to the role. Don’t take up valuable space explaining how great you were in a role that has no relevance to the position you are applying for.
Top tip: Use a fancy text box to highlight an achievement – here’s how:
8. Use the right CV template
There is no one correct CV template that works for every person and every role. For example, a creative role requires a creative CV template, whilst most other roles will require a more professional template with no graphics or creative flair. A first-time applicant may wish to use a template that has a more spacious layout, helping them achieve the golden two-page rule, while someone with more experience and skills will want a very basic CV template that allows use of all the available space. Use your judgement when choosing the right template for you – don’t just go on what you find visually appealing, but consider what your employer is looking for and what a particular CV template says about you. Click here to view our full range of free CV templates.
9. Know where to find the best vacancies
If you’d have asked people how to get a job 20 years ago, they would have directed you to a newspaper. Go back 10 years, and you might have been pointed in the direction of Monster or one of the other big jobs websites. Now there are so many more ways to get a job than the traditional methods – so brush up on where to find the best positions. Check out our article ‘Where can I find job vacancies?‘ to find out more.