Imagine you’re a prospective employer. You have one vacancy, 50 CVs to read and only a few minutes till your next meeting. Where do you start and how do you figure out who to call for interview?
Here are five critical questions a recruiter will ask him or herself – and how to make sure your CV can answer them.
Who is applying?
The correct answer isn’t your name. A recruiter needs to have an idea about who you are, as quickly as possible so make sure that you include a profile of yourself. It can be called Career Summary, Personal Profile or Career Objectives.
How good are they really?
Listing universal transferable skills isn’t the same thing as proving you have them. Especially if you’re using the same laboured descriptions as everyone else. Avoid CV clichés (self-starter, team player, highly motivated). Show where you have made a difference in your most recent jobs.
Is this CV unique?
This doesn’t mean ‘is the CV printed on glossy paper and does it have a photo of the candidate?’ In recruitment, ‘unique’ means submitting a well structured and detailed CV that is specific to the job you’re applying for. Think about your strengths; what are you best known for? What is your point of differentiation? What can possibly make you an asset for the company?
Where are the achievements?
Experience isn’t the same as achievement. Don’t just list where you’ve been and what you’ve done, show the recruiter how you stood out. If you can include an ‘achievements’ section then it can make an instant and dramatic difference to the power of your CV, enabling you to distinguish yourself from other candidates.
Why am I still reading this?
This is not a question you ever want someone to ask while holding your CV. Thankfully, there’s a way around it. Give more attention to the first half page than any other part of the document. Say the things that matter early on, while you’ve got the reader’s attention. Your profile is the most important part of the CV and your current job is vastly more important than what you were doing five or ten years ago.