How to write a CV: 10 steps to success

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According to Glassdoor, a job posting will get over 250 applications, each with good CVs (short for curriculum vitae) attached. Generally speaking, around four to six of the applicants will get an interview. But, of course, only one of those 250 applicants will be lucky enough to get the job.

So, how do you make your CV, which is normally the first thing employers will read about you, stand out from the 249 others?

1. Tailor your CV

It is so important to tailor your CV specifically to the job that you are applying for. You should not be just sending a generic CV around.

For example, if you are applying for a sales consultant role, really highlight the areas in which you have shown both sales experience and have the relevant skills to be a consultant. Whereas, if you were applying for sales manager roles at the same time, you would highlight in the CV attached to this job application that you have both sales experience and management and team leading experience.

2. Make your CV keyword friendly

This leads on nicely from tailoring your CV to the specific role.

AI-based software is becoming increasingly popular in the hiring process, aiding recruiters in sifting through hundreds of applications. When writing a CV, using action verbs such as “outperformed”, “accelerated”, “negotiated” or “transformed”, are thought to be essential for appealing to the bots.

It is also important to replicate the keywords written in the job application. For example, if the application specifies “three years of sales experience”, make sure to put these exact words in your CV.

However, it is important to not cram your CV purely with keywords that the bots will love because, if successful, your CV will still be read by the recruiter, and they will see through these tricks of the trade!

It is commonly advised to only repeat key phrases said in the a maximum of three times, to pad all keyword attempts out with other industry specific terms and to place these key phrases and your keywords around your CV separately (e.g., one in ‘work experience’ one in ‘skills’ section).

3. Be specific with what you did

The key to writing up your ‘relevant work experience’ section is to include specific bits of success, and use numbers to show this!

For instance, instead of saying “I was responsible for the company’s filing system” say “I streamlined the company’s filing system and saved them $6,000 in temp costs”. If you’ve increased the revenue of the company, say exactly how much. Or, if you’ve worked in sales before, say exactly how many sales you’ve made and how much money that equates to.

It’s hard to argue with numbers, so use them to your advantage.

4. Tell the truth

It is thought that a staggering 85 percent of job applicants lie on their CV. And it is tempting to do. So, if everyone is doing it then why shouldn’t you?

Employers will background check you and contact your references. Therefore, you are likely to be found our if you lie on your CV. You don’t want to lose the job before you’ve even started! It is also embarrassing in an interview to be asked about a forgotten lie!

5. Keep your CV simple

The key to writing a good CV is to keep it short, sweet and simple.

Recruiters spend a lot of their time reading CV’s and there is absolutely no doubt that they will get bored and lose concentration. So, you need to write a short CV that grab their attention quickly, and keeps their attention.

As a rule, a CV should never be more than two pages of A4, and the shorter the better. Generally speaking, For most of us, it should be typed as a neat word document. However, if you are applying for a creative position, you might want to showcase your talent by creating a visually appealing CV using a software.

6. Include key information

This might seem blindingly obvious, but we can get so focused on the hard, complexed stuff that we miss out the simple stuff!

When writing your CV, always start by putting your name, contact number and email address at the top. I mean, how else are recruiters supposed to contact you to tell you how AMAZING they think you are if they don’t have your contact details?!

7. Showcase your achievements

Most people only outline their basic duties and responsibilities in their CV. However, your CV is your time to shine and the time to blow away the recruiter.

When writing your CV, think really hard about what have you done that you are proud of or that sets you ahead of everyone else?

These achievements can be work related and added to the ‘work experience’ section of your CV. For example you won employe of the year or got promoted in a record time. Or, they can be personal life related, as this shows commitment and additional interests, and added to an ‘achievements’ or ‘hobbies’ section. For example, mention that you won a sporting race, raised X amount for charity or achieved a certificate in sailing.

8. Avoid errors

There will be nothing more off putting to a recruiter than a CV riddled with mistakes. Once you have done a first draft of your CV, ensure that there are no grammatical errors, spelling errors or typos by going over your CV time and time again with a fine tooth comb.

Top tip: even ask a family member or friend to check it for you.

9. Always include a cover letter

It is ever so common for job seekers to just attach a CV and be done with their job application. However, employers are looking for people who actually want this specific job. And how do you show you want it? Spend some additional time writing a cover letter specific to the job, as this shows your commitment to the application.

It also works in your favor, as you can highlight to the employer exactly how your skills match with what they are looking for.

10. Keep your CV up to date

Finally, make sure you include all your recent work experiences in your CV and keep your achievements up to date. When writing your CV, try to avoid leaving too many gaps in your employment history. Leaving gaps may cause recruiter to question why you were unemployed for so long.

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