How to Write an Effective CV

Employers spend seconds reviewing each resume they receive, so knowing how to write a successful resume that stands out from the crowd is critical. Here are five strategies for making your CV stand out.

1. Demonstrate your relevant work experience.

On CVs, I frequently see the most relevant experience for the role on the second page, or even worse, right at the bottom of the page! A recruiter wants to know you have the skills they need, but they don’t want to waste time looking for it, so make sure your relevant experience is on the first page of your CV.

If you have relevant experience but it was more than 3 years, create a heading on your CV such as “Relevant Experience” and list every role that is relevant beneath it. You can further personalise the heading by mentioning the industry or role type, such as ‘Administrative Experience’ or ‘Use of Mechanical Equipment Experience.’ Ensure that all roles are listed in reverse chronological order (the most recent at the top). Other positions can be listed in a section called “Further Experience.”

2. Use active verbs and keywords in your writing.

You’ve probably heard that you should customise your CV for each job you apply for. How do you go about doing this? One way is to change the way you speak. When you use keywords from the job description/advertisement in your CV, the hiring manager will see that you’ve tailored it to the role and that you have the skills they’re looking for. It’s a good idea to use keywords from the job description to describe your previous experiences, and if you’re applying for a large company, an applicant tracking system may be used; if this is the case, using keywords relevant to the job is critical to moving on to the next round.

It’s also critical to use active words and verbs if you want to learn how to write a successful CV. Use these to describe your responsibilities, abilities, and accomplishments. These should be related to the skills that the employer is looking for. For example, if a company is looking for candidates with strong teamwork skills, it would be a good idea to include words like liaise, support, advise, and assist in the job description.

3. Make use of bullet points

Make sure you use bullet points on your CV if you haven’t already. Recruiters prefer to skim through applications because it makes their lives easier, and the shortlisting process goes faster. If you have paragraphs of text, they are unlikely to be read; instead, use bullet points. Select the most important skills learned in the role and/or accomplishments.

To keep it concise and focused, start each one with an active word or verb. Consider the following scenario:

  • Supported a team of 12 senior managers…
  • Used Twitter to launch a customer awareness campaign, which resulted in a 25% increase in website traffic.
4. Compile a list of your accomplishments and their impact.

As your CV is mostly text, for it to standout to recruiters I would recommend that you quantify the impact you had directly on your achievements or workload. You will find that your CV instantly becomes appealing and reliable.

Most of us won’t be able to quantify everything we’ve done, and some industries will be easier to do so than others (sales and marketing, for example), but try to include a few if you can.

Most people can demonstrate how many people they worked with in a team, how many people attended an event they organised, or what percentage increase in sales or social media followers their efforts resulted in. To really grab the recruiter’s attention, use digits, such as ’10’ rather than ‘ten.’

5 . Double-check the formatting.

Even though the content of your CV is important; employers are equally swayed by the first impression of how your cv is presented. You only have a few seconds to make an impression, so make your CV easy to read – that means each section is clearly marked and displayed consistently. You don’t need to use colours or fancy formatting styles to grab your reader’s attention – sometimes less is more.

Use bold and/or underlined font on headings to draw attention to them. Consider using bold to draw attention to role titles and/or organisations where you’ve worked. Don’t cram everything in – you’ll need white space (blank space) to make what you’ve written on your CV stand out.

For further help in creating a CV, why not complete an elearning course on Karen Blake Academy

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