Our most popular commission is for CV Writing Services and understandably so. Job-hunting can be a thankless task, especially if you make little progress over a number of weeks. Try sprucing up your resume with these simple but effective tips to help you stand out from the crowd.
1. Be Contactable
This may seem like an obvious one, but I can’t tell you how many job applications I’ve assisted with that have been lacking in the simplest of details. Full name, email and contact details is best practice, along with the area in which you live (this doesn’t need to be a full address as this would be requested upon appointment) and your driving status/access to transport.
2. Punchy Personal Statement
Hook your prospective employer in with a brief (very brief – there’s time for elaboration later in your covering letter) outline of your character, strengths and skills. No need to go into job history here as this will be covered in the body of your CV, but a summary or bullet point list of your expertise is enough to set the ball rolling before launching into your job history.
3. Relevant Jobs Only
On the subject of job history, when breaking down your previous employment avoid the temptation to list every duty you’ve ever had down to that college tide-me-over nightclub position, collecting glasses and unfortunate hosing down of communal areas. While you may be able to use these sorts of roles to demonstrate your affinity for teamwork, how well you respond to direction and ability to use a mop and bucket, there really is no need to include the minutia of every role unless it has a direct pertinence. Stick to a list of your work history (briefly explain any gaps) and elaborate only on the positions that are relevant.
4. Concision without Compromise
As someone who has sifted through countless resumes in her time trying to find the right candidate in the haystack, I can promise you that before long the hollow jargon blurs into one and reading intently quickly becomes more of a skim. Hit your potential boss right between the eyes with short, punchy summaries of your previous duties in concise and well-structured lists. A good tip is to emulate the composition of the job description in question as the employer clearly has affinity with the format (and you will very often find them broken down into manageable bullet points). Anyone browsing your CV will appreciate the brevity and will glean the most salient points without too much work.
5. Number of Pages
We hear the advice a lot that your CV should be no more than two pages of A4, however this is not always the case. While we certainly recommend you stay as far from War and Peace as possible, many careers and professions simply require far more detail from candidates than two pages will allow. If you have an extensive job history, all of which is relevant and pertinent, and are applying for more technical, senior and specialist roles, naturally you will have more information to put across. It isn’t unusual for resumes of a certain calibre to reach 7 pages plus, as long as it is well written, concise as it can be and is not repetitive.
6. No Padding
On the other end of the scale you may find you have very little experience in much of anything and that part time college job really does need to be elaborated on if you’ve any hope of filling a page. In which case, avoid the temptation to string it out or exaggerate your duties. Instead focus more on your personal attributes and skills and state with confidence what you can bring to a team. Don’t undervalue your street smarts – an impressive career history is no prerequisite for common sense and you can outshine in many different ways. Acknowledge gaps in experience head on and explain how you intend to compensate for them if you are successfully appointed.
7. Harmonise with your Profiles
The days of the internet have left few hiding places for the yuppy on the job hunt. When it comes to your personal social media profiles, do your best to keep them clean and tidy or if nothing else, closed to the public. When it comes to your professional profiles, be it LinkedIn, Indeed or specific recruitment sites, ensure the details of your job history, qualifications and expertise are simpatico with your resume – if only to reinforce your claim of having exceptional attention to detail!
8. The Whole Truth and Nothing But (some light embellishment)
We are not so naïve as to assume absolutely everything on those proud, boastful pages would stand up in court, but be careful not to over embellish. Generously stretching your skills in one area to show how they may fit a specific requirement of the job description is one thing but claiming to have beaten Jeff Bezos into orbit might just be seen through. Employers are generally far more receptive to head-on acknowledgement of no direct experience but your being willing/able/keen to learn etc, etc, than a tortured contortion of the facts.
As tiresome as it may seem, unless you are applying for absolute carbon copy roles each time, it is useful to tweak your CV to each position you apply for. Tailoring your personal profile to tie in with the specific person specification, and cleverly borrowing from the job description when describing your previous experience, will create a natural link between yourself and the role. Be sure to paraphrase rather than plagiarise and trust the recruiter to connect the dots.
10. Make Referees Available
In an ideal world your current employer will be aware you are looking to move onwards and upwards, be perfectly supportive and will be poised to reference your character. However, it’s not unusual (and quite understandable) to play your job-hunting activities close to your chest until you’ve secured a new position. Either way, it is good practice to include all of your referees at the foot of your resume. Many new employers will not offer a firm contract without having secured two or three references and these details being readily available will speed up the process for both parties. If you aren’t willing for them to be written immediately simply caveat the section clearly and request further authorisation before they are contacted. The transparency shows forthrightness and a level of trust, setting a good tone with a prospective employer.
And a little bonus tip – keep your CV up to date with every job hop as you make it and you should never again face the mammoth task of filling an intimidating blank page. You can also send us a copy of your CV for assessment and we will provide you with up to 5 addendum suggestions free of charge. See our full list of services here.
Very best of luck on your hunt for that dream job!
The Copycat Team.