How To Write A Killer CV – 7 Tips From A Recruiter
When it comes to scoring a job interview, learning how to write a killer CV is the number one factor separating you from all the other candidates competing for the job. It’s also, unfortunately, where most job applicants make their first mistake.
We caught up with recruiter and career coach Stephanie Ellul (pictured) from General Assembly to find out what the most common mistakes that job candidates make are – and what it really takes to write a killer CV.
1. Tailor your CV for each application
Keep in mind that your CV is not an autobiography. One of the biggest mistakes job applicants make is listing every single thing they’ve ever done. It’s important to tailor your CV to the type of role for which you’re applying. This involves being selective with regards to the experience you include. Which of your responsibilities and achievements are best matched to the skills called for on the job description? A good CV with the right information will put you in the best possible light to be considered for a specific job.
2. Be detailed but keep it brief
A strong CV reflects the critical-thinking skills of the applicant. Your CV should be brief (between one and three pages, depending on the breadth of your experience). However, you still need to ensure that you provide enough detail to give the person reading your application a strong sense of who you are – and entice them enough to offer you an interview! Use short sentences with important keywords from the position description. Avoid explaining situations in great detail – that’s what the interview is for.
3. Be specific about your skills
Recruiters switch off when they see phrases like great communication skills and ability to work independently or as part of a team on a CV. It’s easy to think these are things employers want to hear but cliché statements like these say very little about you, and can actually do more harm that good. If you can’t describe yourself in a unique way, the person reading your CV won’t be convinced that you’re someone they need to meet. You should think of yourself as a professional with solid work experience, and you should be able to demonstrate your skills and attributes when describing your achievements and the responsibilities you’ve held throughout your career.
4. Leave out your address
Gone are the days when a job application had to include all your biographic information. When it comes to including your contact details, your name, phone number and email address is enough. In our digital age, including links to your socials (Twitter, LinkedIn) will also help to set you apart.
Leave off your physical address; no one will be sending you mail by post during the the recruitment process. Likewise, you’re not obliged to include your date of birth. It’s fair for you to eliminate information that is not relevant to the job, and which could be used against you. For instance, if you live far from the where the job is based, the recruiter mightn’t assume you’d be willing to travel.
5. Carefully structure your CV
Recruiters read hundreds of CVs and they’ll sit up and notice one that has been formatted well. To make the recruiter’s life as easy as possible, be sure to include dates (in reserve chronological order), clear headings and a medium-sized font (size 9 to 11 is generally good, depending on the font). One or two colours are fine but don’t over-do it with formatting, colours and font styles. Keep it simple.
6. Remove your referees' info
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessary to include the contact details of your referees. The purpose of your CV at the beginning of the recruitment process is to ascertain whether you’re a suitable candidate to interview. Generally speaking, reference checks occur at the final stages of the recruitment process, usually after you’ve attended at least one interview. There shouldn’t be a need for a recruiter to contact your references before they have spoken to you.
All you need to include are the names of two or three referees with a line saying contact details available upon request.
7. Remove the profile pic from your CV
Unless you’re applying for a modelling, acting or promotional gig where headshots are requested, don’t include a photo of yourself. Your physical appearance should have no bearing on whether or not you are suitable for the job. And let’s face it: a photo just wastes precious space on your CV. If a job description specifically requests a photo (when it’s really not appropriate) you might want to get in touch with the company and work out whether it's a reasonable request, or something less legit.
Do you have any great suggestions for writing a killer CV? We’d love to hear them, so share them below!