“Recruiters only spend 6 seconds reviewing an individual resume”.
This sort of statistic can be very disheartening for any jobseeker but there are easy lessons to be learnt from it. Unfortunately, recruiters can get hundreds of applications and very little time to process them all. Once you embrace this reality as a jobseeker, you can start radically improving your chances by tailoring and designing your CV appropriately.
A Clear Layout
The reader shouldn’t have to work to understand your CV so make sure everything is clearly sectioned and laid out. There is a lot of information in your employment and education history and it can be a challenge to display this well but some thought can make a huge difference. If you’re struggling, give it to your friends and family for their initial reactions.
Use a Traditional, Relevant Structure
With the exception of the creative industries, your CV is not the time to challenge convention and rebel against the system – stick to the traditional sections. Also unless you’re applying for a graduate job, your skills are almost always more important than your education so put employment history first.
Use Key Words and Phrases
A lot of applications now get filtered by computer programmes looking for specific keywords. Even if it doesn’t, recruiters then routinely skim for keywords themselves. While you can’t always know what these words will be, you can make clever guesses. The job title is always a good place to start, as are the top required skills or experiences. Numbers also help as they draw attention to hard facts.
Once your CV has made it through the first stage, it will start to be read more thoroughly. Your summary lets you put all of your experience and education into context, as well as talking about what you are looking for. Had a career change? Gap in your employment? This is the time to explain it and form a coherent narrative of your experience.
Include the right personal information
Your address is important to gauge commuting distance - you don’t need to include your exact address but don’t be too vague either. “Basingstoke, Hampshire” is fine but “Bristol” is a much bigger area and you will need to be more specific.
Don’t include a photo!
While it may be common on the continent, it’s just not done in the UK. The only exceptions to this are if your appearance is relevant to the job or a photo was specifically requested.
It’s still surprisingly common for people to have a silly email address on their CV. We understand, you made it when you were 14, but you need something simple and professional for job applications. If you’re concerned about missing any replies on a different email address, here are some quick guides to setting up email forwarding on Outlook.com, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail.