A recruiter typically looks at a CV for seven seconds before making a judgement about the candidate’s application. So how do you write a compelling CV that clinches that all-important first interview?
Firstly, context is key. The CVs that are shared for a variety of positions are easy to spot - a CV for a funky foodie startup is going to be very different to one for a national supermarket chain with a 100-year heritage, so take time to tailor.
Read the job description several times. Understand the role you are applying for, rather than the one you think you are. Make notes of key words or phrases that describe the company culture, role purpose, the skills and experience required, to provide context for the evidence you need to demonstrate. Recruiters will use software to scan for words such as ‘fmcg’, ‘sales’, ‘revenue growth management’, ‘customer’, ‘influencing’ and ‘senior stakeholders’ for a field sales role, so make sure you use this vocabulary.
Your personal profile/statement should be succinct, persuasive and flowing, demonstrating your key traits, depth and breadth of experience. Stand out by describing the culture or opportunities that energise you.
Order your CV chronologically so your career story can be easily read. If you have gaps, be open and provide a brief, confident explanation, such as ‘career break to raise family’ or ‘time off to complete MSc Marketing’. This will provide a conversation point at interview!
Quantify every achievement or description as much as possible to provide evidence of the scale, complexity and impact your roles have included: ‘Increased market share from 6% to 12.5% within two years’ or ‘led regional team of 15 store managers’, for example. This builds up a picture of your capability and suitability for the role. Don’t leave any room for doubt in the recruiter’s mind of your achievements.
The basics are vital. Check and recheck your spelling, punctuation or grammar, and don’t rely on spell check! Watch out for repetition. Watch out for repetition. Headers, footers and fonts help you to utilise space effectively while ensuring the document is clear and easy to read.
The covering letter is for you to share what you could bring to the role in more detail. I’ll share my tips on how best to do this next month.
Joanna Jacobs is a career and talent coach