As you spend hours carefully crafting your CV, you might be horrified to learn that many hiring mangers spend just 10 seconds deciding whether to shortlist your application or reject it outright.
The good news is that once you know this you can use it to your advantage and make sure yours is one of the CVs on the ‘Yes’ pile.
The key thing is to clearly differentiate yourself from the other applicants and show how and why you are the solution to whatever problem it is the hiring manager is trying to solve.
The hirer is asking one simple question: Why should I hire you?
Here’s how to answer.
To work out the best way to answer the question you need to think like the person doing the hiring. As well as making sure you have a thorough understanding of the specific role, do your best to understand the organisation you are applying to. What are their particular strengths, working styles and current challenges?
You can then assess which of your skills best match what they are looking for. Is it increasing sales, meeting deadlines or improving morale for example?
Write a summary at the top of the CV setting out your keys skills. This is to make it immediately clear why they need to carry on reading.
If there is a relevant figure which will really drive the point home, include it. If you increased sales by 37% in your last role, say so.
Using the knowledge you have gained from your research, keep a strong focus on the skills and experience the hiring manager will be looking for.
Don’t be afraid to selectively use basic text effects like bold font and sidebars through the body of the CV to highlight key phrases.
You have ten seconds to communicate all the information that will make it clear that you need to be invited for interview.
Nothing is less interesting to a hiring manager than sheets and sheets of paper.
A long CV makes you look long-winded and insecure. One or two pages is enough to get the necessary information across.
Avoid gimmicks designed to make you stand out. It should be your skills and experience which sell you, not an eye catching stunt. Keep it reasonably traditional.
Make sure your contact details are clear and avoid using any dodgy personal email addresses.
Or, to put it another way, show, don’t tell.
Avoid jargon and cliché. How many candidates do you expect to say that they are ‘highly motivated’? To stand out, show how you are motivated.
The same goes for all the other well-worn CV favourites such as enthusiastic, passionate and good team-player.
‘Soft’ skills such as public speaking, mediation or presentation experience could all be of interest to a potential employer. Include them if they are relevant.
Although the focus should always be primarily on your work skills and experience, don’t ignore things outside of work if they help paint a picture of who you are. Don’t list generic hobbies like reading and walking. If you’ve completed a Tough Mudder or charity bike trek they can help demonstrate desirable qualifies outside of the nine to five.
Check and double check your spelling, grammar and punctuation and then ask someone else to check for you.
When your chances of being invited to interview depend on a ten second scan of your CV, errors can undo all your good work. You may have all the skills they are looking for but if you can’t get the CV right, you won’t get past the first hurdle.