Maximise your interview chances – getting your CV right

How to get your CV/resume in its best shape is one of the things that we get asked about most.  Without a good CV it’s unlikely you’ll get through the door to meet a potential employer face-to-face, so getting it right is very important.  Remember this is your shop window and potentially your one chance to impress, you have to get it right first time!

It’s also worth remembering that more often than not these days applications will have to go through an online application portal/process, which means you’ll be asked questions on subjects that you may have not included on your CV.

Below are some tips on how to get it right… and just as importantly how not to get it wrong!

  • Tailor your CV for every role you apply for; research the company and read the job description thoroughly. Include any information in your CV that is relevant to the role/company; but avoid the temptation to cut and paste!
  • It should go without saying, but don’t embellish the truth in your CV… you will get caught out at some point! No hiring company really expect candidates to have a 100% fit with the job description, so be honest in what you can and can’t bring to the table.
  • Include a short overview of your experience at the top of your CV. No-one is going to write anything negative on their own CV, but you don’t need be too glowing in your use of adjectives… be realistic!  Fantastic, unique, unrivalled, exceptional; not everyone may agree…!  This is however a great place to emphasise why you are suitable for the role you’re applying for or highlight potentially relevant/impressive qualifications.
  • Include a career history starting with your most recent role and working backwards, with specific details of your responsibilities and achievements, particularly anything that is relevant to the role you’re applying for. Again, context is King – ensure this is tailored for the role that you are applying for.
  • People want to read about what you’ve been doing recently. With 20 years’ experience you don’t need to put that sales job you did when you left school on your CV!  Place the emphasis on your most recent roles or anything you’ve done that is particularly relevant.
  • Put a mobile/email on your CV. You’d be amazed how many people don’t; if your CV gets separated from a cover letter/email, the hiring company may think you’re fantastic but then they can’t find you to tell you that! It’s also worth considering your email address, perhaps the address that you thought was hilarious at University isn’t as appropriate now.
  • Include your home location. If you’re worried that the role you’re applying for is elsewhere then simply make it clear that  you are open to domestic/international relocation.  If you don’t include it, it’s likely to be one of the first things people ask or you may face simply being discounted from the process.
  • Don’t include a photo on your CV; you’re either way too good looking or way too ugly… neither are a good thing!
  • Even if you don’t have a University degree or industry specific qualifications, you’ve probably been put through some courses in your career, so ensure you put anything relevant on your CV. At the other end of the scale, people don’t necessarily need to know about your woodwork GCSE results from 25 years ago!
  • Your CV should not be War and Peace, so keep it to two or three pages; it’s a fine line between telling people what you’ve done that’s relevant and telling them everything you’ve ever done. At the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve had a twenty-year career, a one-page document isn’t going to include enough information.
  • Assume you’re speaking to a lay-person. There’s a fair chance your CV will end up with HR first; they will sift applications with perhaps limited subject-matter knowledge, so make their life easy… Lose all the industry/government jargon, spell out any acronym at least once; assume they know nothing!
  • You’ve been working in your organisation for ten years and know it like the back of your hand, don’t assume others do. Even with the best-known firms no-one outside the business really knows what it consists of.  Lay it out for people…. You ‘look after a region consisting of 10,000 personnel, across 280 facilities and $1.2 billion in revenue’.  You ‘manage a team of 12 with full security and investigative responsibility for manufacturing, supply chain, corporate office and retail operations’.  No one knows the business as well as you, so be sure you articulate the scale of what you do on a daily basis.
  • Quirky is generally not a good thing. We do see a variety of styles, but often more time is spent on design than the content… this is the opposite of the way it should be!
  • Much like your photo, including a list of your hobbies/interests is often not additive. If you happen to chance having an interest similar to the hiring manager it’s great, but the chance that your ‘support for Watford Football Club’ (other teams are available!) will put them off is significantly higher
  • ‘References available on request’… of course they are, you don’t need to state it!

Hopefully this blog is useful and helps you in your search for a new role. Please continue to ask us any questions on our ‘Candidate Community’ page and we will do our best to answer them!

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