Career centre

10 tips for the perfect CV

By Breda Graham

Often times perfecting your CV can be the toughest part of job hunting.

Most hiring managers will spend just a few seconds scanning each CV before deciding whether it belongs in the yes or no pile so the pressure is on to make an impression with a good CV.

In order to grab the hiring manager’s attention there are certain things to stick to.

Here are 10 top tips for the perfect CV to secure that interview.

1. Keep it short and simple

A CV should never be more than two A4 pages long. When scanning through a lot of CVs, hiring managers will only spend on average mere seconds looking over each one so you need yours to stand out and read well.

Writing an essay or attempting to tell the hiring manager your life story will land you in the no pile straight away.

So keep it short, simple and only include main points, skills, relevant education, experience and interests.

2. Tailor to the company

It’s very easy when job hunting to send out lots of copies of the same CV in a desperate attempt to find employment. The reality is, the more you do this the longer you will be unemployed.

Be sure to tailor your CV to the company and specific role you are applying for. Research the company itself and read the job description and use key phrases and words from there.

Have an idea of the company’s culture and know the skills and personality that best suit the company and the role itself and play on that.

Hiring managers will notice the extra effort and will appreciate it.

3. Be personable

It may not be obvious to the hiring manager how your experience or skills alone relate to the specific job you are applying for.

Although you do not want to waffle, it is a good idea to include a short personal statement that explains why you are the best person for the job.

This shows that you are confident and able. Your cover letter is an opportunity to be more personable in your job application also.

4. Avoid leaving gaps

If you have been out of work for some time or if this was the case in the past, do not try to cover it up but instead put a positive spin on it and explain why.

Did you complete a course? Did you travel? Volunteer?

Be honest and do not leave gaps in your CV without explanation as a hiring manager will become suspicious and will wonder why you were out of work when in actual fact it might work in your favour ir them to know why you weren’t employed.

5.Keep it current and relevant

You should keep your CV up-to-date whether you are job searching or not.

Every time something significant happens in your career, record it so you don't later forget something that could be important.

It is harder to sit down and write a new CV with information to be added that goes back a long time as it is easier to forget the relevant information that could be what secures you your next job.

6. Proofread

Hiring managers do notice mistakes on a CV and will in fact look out for mistakes on your CV.

Make sure to re-read before sending and have someone look over it for you as it helps to have a fresh pair of eyes that will notice mistakes that you could have missed.

7. Be honest

As CVs go, this should be the number one rule. Do not lie on your CV.

In an attempt to impress, it may seem like the easy route to take but a lie will catch up on you.

Employers can and will check your background before the interview stage and if it does not match up to the information on your CV then you could land yourself in some trouble.

The last thing you want is to lose out on the job opportunity over a silly lie. Moreover, you don’t want to lie about particular skills or experience and then get the job and not be able to perform to the company’s standard.

Remember during the interview also that employers will have the questions at hand, however, you do not always have the answers at hand and if a question is asked that you cannot answer because you lied, then things can get very awkward, Avoid the hardship and just be honest.

8. Use facts and figures

When giving an account of your working history, impress the hiring manager even more by using figures to backup the fact.

If you increased traffic to a website in your previous role, for example, state how much traffic was increased by.

Traffic was increased by 40% over a five month period will sounds much more impressive and professional than just stating that traffic increased. This also leads to a topic open for discussion during the interview stage too so have facts and figures at ready.

9. Structure

Visulas are everything and that goes for your CV also.

Take the time to structure your CV well and make it look slick and professional, while tailoring it to the role.

Don’t be afraid to be a little brave when it comes to tailoring the structure of your CV, just like when you are tailoring the contents of your CV to a specific role.

For example, if you are applying for the role of Social Media Manager, why not structure your CV to look like an online LinkedIn profile?

Not only does this show creativity but it will also show the talents you possess as a creative before the hiring manager even reads the first sentence of your CV.

10. Make it keyword friendly

Nowadays, it is a done thing to upload your CV to a job site so recruiters can find you.

If you are job hunting this way, keywords are essential as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will pick your CV from the pile.

This is why it is important to use the keywords found in the job description of the specific position you are applying for.

SEO finds keywords associated with the job and will bring to the hiring manager’s attention your CV if it includes these keywords. Simple!