Catching the recruiter’s eye

Your CV is one of the most important documents you will ever write.  It has a key role to play in getting you a job that will be a stepping stone to a better future.   So it crucial to bear in mind that it is not – as the literal meaning suggests – the story of your life.   It is a marketing document.  

As with all marketing documents its prime intention is to awaken the interest of the buyer – the recruiter – in what you have to offer.   And the recruiter will make that decision in less than 30 seconds.    So how do you ensure that your CV lands on the short list rather than the “No thank you” pile?

Here are a few tips:

·         Use plain white paper and an 11 or 12 sans serif font.   You may think a fancy font makes your CV stand out.  Instead it annoys.  For emphasis use bold or italic but don’t overdo it.

·         Check for spelling and grammatical errors.  Then ask a friend or family member to check again.

·         Make the contents easier to read by splitting the information you are listing into blocks with headings.

·         A long list of jobs or even tasks is insufficient.   Highlight achievements and the underlying skills.

·         Provide evidence for those skills.  “Good communicator” is simply not enough.  With whom do you communicate?  What kind of information do you communicate? What are the results of that communication?

·         Provide some figures.  If you claim to have increased sales show by how much.   Give some indication of the size of the companies you have worked for in terms of turnover and staff levels.

·         Explain any gaps in your employment record.

·         Leave your photograph in the album.  Recruiters try to ignore photographs because they feel they may give an unfair advantage.

And if you are contacting recruitment consultants remember their remit is not to get you a job.   It is to find suitable candidates for the vacancy they are being paid by the employer to fill.   So make sure the skills, expertise and achievements you list mirror those of the job on offer.  Key words are a vital tool for that so make sure you analyse the details of the job for which you are applying.  Underline the key words and then use them in the CV you submit.

Following these tips will not guarantee you an interview.  There are too many variables for that.  And in a competitive marketplace that has to make sense.