When an employer reads your CV, the fundamental fact they want to understand is whether or not you can do the job. If your CV does not include the skills and knowledge that your target employers are looking for, you won't be shortlisted – no matter how well-written and structured your CV is.
Recruiters and hiring managers take a maximum of 15 seconds to determine your CV's suitability so it must create an immediate impression. Remember CVs are a direct document-representation of you – who you are? what do you do? how well you are equipped to manage your job responsibilities? your passions and interests, your achievements, and most importantly, why you are the most suitable candidate for the job?
Below are the top 8 tips to make your CV attract attention
Your CV Structure – What must your CV contain
Keep your CV to a maximum of 2 pages. Design a clear layout on paper prior to implementing on paper or go through different CV structures. Below are some structures that you can use. Ensure clear readability, line spacing, details highlighting Work Experience, Education, Skills (technical and non-technical skills), Achievements, Training attended, Any publications, Personal Details, and A Bio. You may want to consider the use of infographics as well.
You can also review sample CV formats.
Your CV Format
Fashionable CVs don’t work. It must be professional and simple.
You may want to read more about our recommendation on CV Design.
CV Font – Keep a simple font – Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Time Roman are some examples – Avoid “handwriting” fonts. A font size of 10,11,12 is most suitable, a font size of 11 and 12 being best. Keep the standard font size for all text. Titles and headings can be a font size higher.
Bullet Points - It is good to be brief and incorporate bullet points or numbering in your job responsibilities. One bullet point per line is perfect (two lines max). Keep 8 to 10 points per responsibility. Highlight keywords specific to your role. Words like "balance sheet" or "financial analysis" for accounting roles and "targets", or "sales figures" for sales roles, etc. – Avoid bunching your responsibilities into a paragraph – it makes it look “too much text”.
Spell Checks - Incorrect spellings create a poor impression, hence a CV spell check is mandatory. You do not want to give the impression that you cannot spell or have not taken the time and effort to check your work.
Grammar – Use short sentences. This makes it easier for the reader. Do not use jargon or high-end words to show off. If the recruiter does not understand the work or feels you are using too many complicated words, then how would you work with the rest of the team.
Solution: Grammarly is a free tool I use to do spell checks and grammar usage.
Using the Correct Keywords in Your CV
Ensure that your CV contains the most appropriate keywords more like what an SEO keyword search is based on. Remember recruiters and Human resources people are very busy and look for the most suitable candidates in the shortest time. Most of them will use an ATS (Application Tracking System) and use a bunch of keywords that they need to find in the candidate's CV. For example, if I am looking for a sales engineer with a mechanical engineering degree, then I will search ("sales engineer" OR "field sales") AND ("mechanical engineer" OR "mechanical engineering"). OR and AND are called boolean operators used by all to maximize search results.
Solution: Words very industry or job-specific to your work will be great to incorporate in your CV.
Hence you must create your CV based on what you think recruiters will search for and meeting your areas of expertise. Do not misrepresent or falsify information on your CV. You will lose credibility.
Applying for a Suitable Position (and not just any)
I review 400 CVs daily for a job on average. Almost 85% of these applicants don’t mind doing the job but do not have the qualifications, skills, or experience. This leads the reader to believe that you are blindly applying without understanding the requirement. Of the remaining 15%, 10% are suitable but either has far more experience for the role (somewhat the same as the department manager) or very basic experience, much less than required to perform successfully. 5% are suitable candidates to contact. If you fall into this 20% category it is worth a try.
I recently had an experienced "Midwife" apply for a Senior Sales Executive (Fit-out and joineries) job and I did not even read the first line.
Solution: Do not apply for jobs blindly because you need one. Apply for the most suitable jobs. The more your experience, skills and education is relevant to the job, the better your chances. Concentrate on similar or same title jobs only - one level up or down is worth a try.
Recruiters look at the closest match for their client
Most search firms and even recruitment agencies will check that you work with the right type of company in a similar position e.g if you are employed as Sales Manager with GE Electric and the job you are applying for is a Sales Manager with RAK Bank, though you may have the right contacts and you are a salesperson and you believe that sales are sales no matter what you sell, recruiters may believe otherwise due to a higher product or service, learning curve when you shift the industry. Your CV would stand much less if no chance of being selected.
Solution: Pay attention to the industry and find out more about the company and the role you are applying for. You will understand your chances. Keep applying even if the industry if different. It is not always the deciding factor.
Recruiters even look at your social profiles
I use Social /Network Media a lot – LinkedIn mostly, just got a lot more into Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I look at people's profiles and link them to our database. What do you post? whom do you know? your interests, your travel are looked at. If I do it, others will too. You must be careful about what you post and what you support. It must be you and not generate more followers or create something you are not.
Solution: Keep updating your social media with positive, educative, inspiring posts, learning articles, research work, recommendations. Network with positive friends circle.
Internal Candidate Recommendations
While scouting candidates for different job roles, employers and recruiters also receive recommendations from experts to fill this role. These may be passive candidates recommended by team members and when interviewed the job is closed quickly and unfortunately if there is a huge number of applicants time restrictions create pave this way.
The position put on Hold
This happens a lot when a job has been put on hold or delayed by the client for whatever reason. This could range from a change of mind, recruiting budget issues, a delay in decision making, or a slowdown in company performance.
Solution: If this does happen, do call the recruiter directly or email them to check the status of your application. It shows your interest and keeps your name on top of the recruiters' minds.