A simple guide to making sure your CV gets you closer to securing that interview
Making your CV relevant, attractive, comprehensible and easy to scan is key to getting the interview you deserve. How can you make sure it fits the lock?
We’ve already shown you how JobRocket helps get your application and CV past the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), but this is just the first step. Once you’re in the top 25 per cent of applicants (that is, with your CV in the hands of a human) you can still be in control.
Here’s our guide to help you make your CV a winning aid to getting that interview.
You’d be amazed at how many people write CVs without doing any research at all. What you should be doing is looking for the skills, characteristics and qualifications the job requires… and not just from a single, specific job ad, either. Look for several different roles that match the job your seeking, make a list of common requirements.
Keep an eye out for specific skills such as IT knowledge, languages and qualifications.
‘Soft skills’ such as communication skills, teamwork or problem solving are important but as they apply to any job, focus on the specific skills the job roles you’re applying for are looking for. You can use your cover letter to demonstrate your soft skills.
Once you’ve got a comprehensive list of requirements, you’ll have the focus of your CV.
The structure of your CV says a lot about you. It’s also the first thing a recruiter associates with you before a single word is read. Keep it clear and easy for recruiters to scan and find the information they’re looking for.
For a start, use Word. It is the global standard of word processing and can be read by just about any computer.
Use a simple, common font such as Arial or Calibri and a basic colour scheme. This makes the document easy to read. Using fancy fonts and an array of colours might make your CV stand out, but it also looks unprofessional.
While ATSs don’t care how long your CV is, recruiters probably do. They have to trawl through hundreds of CVs, so keep yours as short as possible. Don’t miss out vital information; aim for (roughly) two pages of A4.
Make your headings larger and bolder than the content. This makes scanning easier.
Put your name and contact details at the top of the first page. You can add a professional title here if you want.
Put your telephone number, email address and a general location (‘London’ or ‘Manchester’ etc). You don’t need to put your full address, date of birth or marital status.
Your professional profile comes next. This is another chance to grab the employer’s attention. It should be a short paragraph (at most two), so it needs to be fluent and relevant, summarising the experience and education that makes you the ideal candidate. If possible, add the benefits you’d bring to the role.
Keep it short, sweet and sharp and avoid clichés, such as ‘hard-working team player’ or ‘wealth of experience’.
This section is essentially a precis of your cover letter so you can refer and compare these.
Core skills should be bullet points of what you can do (relevant to the vacancy). Make each point three words or less, so it’s easy to scan. The points should contain job-specific skills such as IT knowledge, practical skills, languages and qualifications.
Work experience should be listed in reverse chronological order, with the name of the company, role, responsibilities and dates (in that order). Don’t head this section ‘professional history’ or ‘career summary’ or the like. The ATS might skip the section as it searches for ‘work experience’.
This is where you detail how you’ve used your skills in the workplace. Use more detail in the most recent posts and less in older positions.
If you’ve no work experience, include any voluntary roles you’ve performed, internships or work experience placements, part-time jobs, or any experience you have in or around a professional workplace.
List your key responsibilities in the role, preferably as short bullet points. Keep them relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Then list what you think are your major achievements within this role. Use facts and figures to back these up if you can. When you can illustrate how you’ve saved money, generated revenue, saved time, improved processes, hit targets or helped customers, you’re giving yourself a good chance of being noticed.
Education and qualifications come next. Again, make the header ‘education and qualifications’. Don’t try to be clever or the ATS might miss something important.
As before, list them in reverse chronological order: qualification first, school or college next and dates last. The more senior the position you’re applying for, the less vital details become, but always list the qualification, grade, school and date at least.
Hobbies and interests are usually an optional element of the CV and it’s up to you if you want to include them. If you feel they’ll have a positive effect on your application, then include them.
Nobody’s going to be impressed with ‘eating out’ or ‘watching movies’, but if you’re applying for a writing job and you host your own blog, this is going to be relevant.
Impressive achievements, such as running a marathon or raising money for charity can show you to be a person with drive and staying power.
And there you have it. A simple, straightforward plan to get your CV noticed… The secret is finding the balance of simplicity in structure, but detail in content.
JobRocket is a free CV optimiser tool and job searching website that uses unique AI algorithms to help job seekers get hired quickly and job recruiters get the best candidates.
It is owned and operated by Jobrocket Ltd, a limited company registered in England. Its registered address is 71-75 Sheldon Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9JQ. For more information see.