At ETC Consult, we have been writing CVs for people of all ages and backgrounds for 35 years and we have seen that many skilled and capable people struggle to write effective and compelling CVs.
In this blog post, we share some useful tips from our experience that will help you to write a more compelling CV.
1. Quantify Your Impact with Context
According to research conducted by Graham Management Group, a lack of measurable accomplishments is one of the main factors that prompts recruiters to reject candidates. Below are some examples that illustrate the effectiveness of using numbers with context:
Sales Representative CV
Candidate 1: Significantly Increased sales in my region.
Candidate 2: Increased regional sales from €1.1 million to €2.3 million within 2 years, beating sales target by 30% in 2015 and 25% in 2016.
Senior Web Developer CV
Candidate 1: Led the development of a major Online Customer Service System
Candidate 2: Led the development of an Online Customer Service System which saved the company €300,000 per annum, beating savings target of €175,000 per annum.
Event Manager CV
Candidate 1: Significantly reduced event management expenditure
Candidate 2: Reduced event management expenditure by 20% in 2016, beating savings target of 12.5%.
Of course, it is easier to quantify your impact in roles such as sales and marketing but if you have quantifiable achievements that you can spotlight, it is critical to put them on your CV. However, it is best to only quantify your significant achievements. When evaluating candidates, recruiters will usually assume you are the average of your achievements rather than the sum so it is more effective to spotlight one strong achievement than three less impressive achievements.
2. Make Your CV Skimmable
According to a quantitative eye tracking study undertaken by The Ladders, the average recruiter spends about 6 seconds reviewing an individual resume. To make sure that your CV doesn’t get binned immediately, you need to make sure that the recruiter can quickly scan your background, career progression, achievements and education.
To make your CV easy to skim, use clearly marked headings and sub-headings to segment and introduce key information and add white-space or dividers between sections. Write short paragraphs of 2-3 lines or if you have to write more, create a short paragraph and a list of bullet points.
3. Associate Yourself with Authoritative Brands, Institutions or Clients
One of the quickest ways to build credibility is to associate yourself with trusted institutions, even if you didn’t directly work for them. Did any of your clients include major brands or Fortune 500 companies? Did you feature or write an article in a reputable publication? Were you part of a team that won any renowned awards? Given that recruiters tend to skim resumes, well-known brands and institutions are most likely to get their attention. Below are a couple of examples of candidates associating themselves with well-know brands:
- Strengthened relationships with a range of clients (including Google, Kerry Group and Barclays) through regular meetings with Senior Leadership.
- Was part of the team that worked on a leadership project that won the prestigious “Excellence in HR Leadership” award at the CIPD Awards.
The reason this is effective is because authority is one of Dr.Robert Cialdini’s proven principles of influence. If you don’t have authority, the easiest way to acquire it is to associate yourself with those who do.
4. Amend Your CV to Specific Roles
You may be a candidate who is capable of performing a number of roles but you need to tailor your CV to the specific role. At the screening stage, employers and recruiters quickly scan CVs to gather answers to the following questions:
- Does this person have the desired skills, experience and abilities?
- Does this person have the qualification/education I’m looking for?
Generalised CVs are often quickly dismissed as they won’t meet the specific criteria for the job.The key skills, experience and abilities that are required to do any job are usually given in the job advertisement, job description and/or person specification. Your CV should be targeted to the job you are applying for by demonstrating how you meet the specific requirements of the role.
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