You've identified your dream job, found a vacancy, and are about to submit an application. So how do you go about putting together a CV which is will guarantee you an interview?
Most advertised employment positions are oversubscribed, and some are very oversubscribed, so never expect a recruiter to do your work for you. Your priority is to put together a document which rapidly communicates your suitability for a role. Do this well, and an employer will be only to happy to file you in the interview pile.
As recruitment expert John Lees puts it, the perfect CV is the one that gets you the job, but there are still some key elements which make a good CV great.
Proof read, double-check, and triple-check for errors. Before you dismiss this as an obvious point you would be amazed how many CVs employers receive with typos and spelling mistakes. According to a nationwide survey of recruitment professionals carried out by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, 47% said that out of all the CVs they received, over half (50%) contained grammatical errors, with the worst offenders in the 21-25 year old age group. For a recruiter with a mountain of Cvs to work through, even one little error is a welcome reason to file an application in the pile marked 'dustbin'.
Don't forget a covering letter. Suzanne Cameron, Senior Commercial Consultant of Carlton Resource Solutions points out, one of the most crucial parts of the application the covering letter is increasingly overlooked.
'The way we do things online often becomes the way we do things offline,' notes Suzanne, 'and because many online application systems don't require a covering letter, there is a growing tendency among applicants not to send a covering letter with hard copy submissions. As a result however, these candidates are damaging their chances of securing the positions that they really want. A covering letter is the first chance you have to impress make sure that you take it.'
Stand-out from the crowd. With three hundred black and white two-page CVs to get through a cleverly creative approach can brighten an employer's day. Examples which have made it through the door include a CV which was a box-doll of the potential employee marketed as a super-hero with their employable qualities written on the box. Whilst one creative applicant seeking work with an events company put together an "invitation" to employ her, complete with party poppers and streamers.
But don't get too creative. If you decide to opt for a more traditional approach, however, make sure you adhere strictly to expected forms. Broadly speaking, this means two to three pages in length with your most recent employment first. This format will make it easy for an employer to quickly understand your background. Also, almost every recruiter we spoke to begged candidates to keep their CV's short and to the point. When you have two hundred to get through, less is more.
Tailor to fit. Recruiters often imagine themselves objective, but the reality is they can be incredibly subjective with their preferences. Noel Marshall of recruitment agency Finance Professionals, for example stated categorically that a personal summary including hobbies and interests gives recruiters a flavour of your personality. Whilst headhunter Andrew Baber of Planning for People believes unequivocally that personal summaries are 'white noise' which no-one ever reads. You can't be expected to know the unique preferences of an employer in advance, but as much research as possible should help you gain an idea of company outlook. A CV should be re/written to suit every position you apply for. And never send an identikit version to multiple employers by email. Recruiters really object to being spammed by the cut and paste CVs.
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