MAKING sure you've got a killer CV should be the first thing on your checklist if you're applying for a new job or thinking of changing career.
Your CV is the first thing a recruiter looks at to decide whether or not you'll be suitable for the role.
To help you get started, we've spoken to recruitment experts to find out what it takes to make your CV stand out from the crowd - and what you should avoid at all costs.
1. Create a layout that stands out
The first impression your potential employer will get of you is from the layout of your CV, so be sure to make yours stand out.
It should be clear to read, with appropriate headers and in a decent-sized font.
You should also avoid "fun" fonts such as comic sans as they're hard to make out and aren't very professional.
But Russell Smith, managing director at recruitment firm Hunter, warns unless artistic creativity is an essential skill in the role you're applying to, "now is not the time to show off".
Mandy Watson from recruitment agency, Ambitions Personnel adds: "Making a CV stand out can go too far the other way.
"Reconsider any overcomplicated fonts, design features or unnecessary elements on your document.
"Remember one or two sides of A4 equivalent is all that is needed, any more will likely not be read, imagine all the CVs that employer will be looking through."
2. Don't waste space
Your CV should include only essential information about yourself in a concise way, so don't waste space by giving it a title like "CV" or "curriculum vitae".
Treat your name and contact details like the title and put it at the top of the page.
Don't bother with an interest and hobbies section if you haven't got anything to put in there that is relevant to the job that you're applying to.
No offence, but a recruiter doesn't care about what books you read unless you're applying to be a book editor.
The same goes for including part-time jobs that are no longer relevant to the position that you're applying for.
For example, if you're applying to work in IT in 2020, there's no need to talk about that summer in 2004 when you worked behind a bar.
3. Use the right words
According to jobs site Reed.co.uk, you'll want to use words that are appropriate for applying to a professional role.
These include describing yourself as:
But at the same time, you want to avoid clichés such as "always go the extra mile" or "works well independently or in a team".
Words and phrases like these will only make your CV blend in with the hundreds of other applications from workers who also claim they do the same thing as you.
Mandy from Ambitions Personnels points out that clichés in your CV may cause you to be filtered out of the recruitment process altogether.
She explained: "Remember that some applications are now automated and will be dealt with initially by technology.
"Tailor your CV further by ensuring you consciously use keywords in your document to increase its optimisation in online job sites’ search engines or an ATS (Applicant Tracking System).
"It could mean the difference between landing the job you want and being rejected before you get a chance to really impress."
Hunter's Russell added: "Don't try to cram information in.
"Fillers are obvious to most professional recruiters and no substitute for facts."
4. Be polite in your covering letter
Always include a covering letter or introductory email when sending off your CV - otherwise you'll seem rude and come across as presumptuous.
Remember, this is your first step towards getting an interview so you should treat it like you're meeting your potential employer face to face.
"A memorable and courteous introduction can take you far," says Mandy.
5. Avoid including a photograph of yourself
There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to whether you should include a photograph of yourself when you apply for a job.
Many say that it's an outright no, while others aren't convinced.
There's one thing for sure though, employers shouldn't be assessing whether or not you are capable for a job based on your looks, unless you're a model or actor.
"Ultimately, the purpose of a CV is to convey your skills and attributes - not your appearance," said Daniel Ball from creative recruitment firm Wiser.
"A high quality employer won’t hire based on looks, so why include a photo?"
6. Make sure your social media profiles are up-to-date
Social media profiles can add extra valuable information to your CV without you having to include it in your application.
But remember, if you do link to your social media, make sure that it's up-to-date and that there's nothing on there that could jeopardise your chances of getting the job.
Your LinkedIn profile may show off your impressive career progression but your Instagram might give off a completely different impression.
Making personal profiles private is one way of keeping work separate from your social life.
Mandy from Ambitions Personnels added: "If you have a professional social media profile, make sure it’s up to date.
"Do a swift self-edit and perhaps add to recent activity with insightful information.
"If you have an online portfolio, now is the time to review it.
"Not updated your blog or news section in a while? Take stock and be brutal with editing."
8. Make use of free tools to help you
There are a whole host of free tools to help you through writing your CV to help you land your dream job.
For example, the Department for Education (DfE) has launched a new scheme to offer furloughed workers free online courses to help improve their CVs.
There are also a range of free templates online to help you make your CV pop - see the box above.
"Whether the job you're applying for or not requires excellent written skills, it is crucial to ensure your CV is typo-free and thoroughly proofed," says Mandy.
"Even if English "is your thing" proofreading your own writing is very difficult. So get as many eyes on your CV as possible before sending it out. Tools like Grammarly are free and easily downloadable, so don't let typos on your CV give your potential employer the impression you don't want to make the effort".
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