QR_ Careers: Get your CV to the top of the pile
These are challenging times and many people are finding themselves in the market for a new job, sometimes for the first time in years. Unfortunately, we can’t offer everyone the perfect job, but we may be able to help with a few lessons we’ve learned from the past 10 years of sourcing top talent to join the Quick Release_ team.
Get your CV to the top of the pile
When job-seeking you need to take every opportunity to stand out from the crowd. This has never been more relevant than right now, with every available (good) job receiving hundreds, if not thousands of candidate applications.
Any company that receives large numbers of applications will have a “CV filter” element to their recruitment process. Invariably, the aim of this filter is to reduce large number of applicants down to a reasonable number of the most relevant candidates, as quickly and efficiently as possible. Realistically you have 1-2 minutes to get the recruiter’s attention and up to 90% of applications will be rejected at this stage. In own experience it’s often the formatting rather than the individual’s spec that is lacking, so a little attention can go a very long way to improving your chances of success.
Here's our quick guide to making sure your CV stays at the top of the pile, every time:
1. Introduce yourself
Start your CV with a brief overview section. This should be three or four sentences that sum up who you are and what you've achieved in your career. You could finish by explaining what you’re looking for next, but make sure it’s relevant to the role you’re applying to.
The next section should be a well-presented overview of your academic record and other relevant qualifications. Always include your scores or grades even if they were low. If you don’t include them, the recruiter will likely assume that this is for a reason and reject your application. For higher level jobs include A-levels and summarise GCSEs.
Only list your last three or four jobs. Always include dates and a one line overview, before bullet-pointing the three most important elements of each role. Research shows that recruiters tend to scan anything longer, so you increase the chance of them missing important information if you give long descriptions.
Make any internal progression clear and include a reason for leaving after the job’s dates. Include a ‘previous jobs included X, Y and Z’ section if you think earlier roles are relevant.
4. Key skills
We recommend you follow your nice and concise ‘Experience’ section with a table showing your ‘Key Skills’. This is where you include all that good stuff you didn’t have space to include in your three-line job descriptions. Limit it to relevant skills that you can back up with good examples (and prep these for your interview!)
Remember that you’re looking to stand-out, so “travel, reading and 5-a-side” doesn’t really cut it. Recruiters are looking for evidence that you’ve got a passion for life, that you make things happen rather than letting life happen to you and this is your big chance to prove it. We know from experience that most people come up with great examples when pressed in interview, but far better you get these down on your CV. It may be the difference between progression and rejection!
Don’t worry too much about this unless they’ve been requested. “References available upon request” is fine.
7. Finally, and most importantly
There are many ways present your CV successfully, and points one to six are just our suggestions. There are, however, a couple of hard and fast rules that will have a binary impact on recruiter’s decisions:
At all costs keep your CV concise, to the point and never more than two pages; anything longer will disadvantage you. If the recruiter doesn't reject you immediately, it's unlikely that they'll read all of it, so you need to make sure that all that good stuff is accessible and easy to read.
- Never go smaller than font-size 11 for paragraph text.
- Don’t leave gaps in your timeline (or explain any career breaks).
- Always include your contact details. Email, phone number and address are essential. If you’re on-top of your LinkedIn account, include that too.
Actually, one last point…
Many job applications are made with one-click, through job sites like Indeed or LinkedIn. These sites also provide the very tempting option of automated CV creation. Think very carefully before choosing this option and certainly double check what your auto-CV looks like before submission. Increasingly we’re receiving CVs of five or more pages and very little formatting that have obviously been created this way. At best they look generic and a bit boring, and at worst they’re so long that they get rejected at first glance. It’s also worth a reminder that recruiters are increasingly viewing your CV on mobile devices too – so even more reason to keep it short and sweet!
Your CV is the most important tool you have in your job-seeking toolkit and we guarantee that spending just an hour on it will significantly increase your chances of success. Make use of all the resources, guidance and templates out there on the web to create a CV that you can be proud of; one which really makes you stand-out from the crowd, helps you successfully navigate recruiters’ filters and ultimately lands you the perfect job.
Ready to apply? You can view all current opportunities with Quick Release_.