In reading tons of job postings, I’ve come to realise that there are common threads in terms of what employers look for in their applicants, so I’ve listed some important points in my last blog post. I’m sure I haven’t uncovered every single common thread, and it differs industry to industry, but the jobs I was looking at were specific to the business and legal sectors.
If you’re applying for jobs, a great place to start is making a checklist of experience and qualifications you need for a specific job, type of job, and/or job sector. That way, you can gauge how strong your foundation is (and whether you need more education) and how you measure up against other applicants. But, that’s only half the battle. All applications require you to send in a CV, and in some cases, the application is just the CV, so I have some CV tips for you today!
I’ve always kept up my CV, which is good practice, but I didn’t realise how weak it was. It wasn’t necessarily the content of the CV that was lacking (although I do still have a long way to go), but it was how I sold myself, which is something I’ve always been really bad at and am working on. In the beginning of July, I read up on how to improve my CV, and the changes I made to it were drastic and it ended up being a huge improvement from what it was before. We’ll call the CV before the change CV1 and the one after the change CV2 (i.e. the current CV that I send out with applications).
Don’t just list out your responsibilities
In CV1, instead of detailing what I personally had done with a job, I simply listed out all my responsibilities. In listing out my responsibilities, I was merely listing out what was expected of me, instead of demonstrating I went above and beyond those expectations and make the role my own. CV2 does the latter – I describe how I’ve made a difference in holding a role, and what I’ve achieved as a result. This is how you stand out from all the other applicants; you have to show off your track record to people reading your CV. That’s essentially what a CV is for!
Don’t use passive language
Because CV1 just had lists of my responsibilities, it was full of passive language. My CV literally had ‘responsibilities included…..’ and then a list of my responsibilities. What I didn’t realise was that, simply stating my responsibilities didn’t mean I had actually fulfilled them and it didn’t give the impression that I was even proactive in fulfilling them. All it did was give the recruiter job descriptions for each position of responsibility I’ve held. CV2 now uses words like ‘demonstrated’, ‘consistently excelled’, ‘engaged’, ‘successfully executed’, and effectively coordinated’; these are all sprinkled throughout the CV so as to not annoy and overwhelm the recruiter with too many unnecessary adjectives. Here’s a handy list of active words to use in your CV!
Make sure it looks nice and is of a reasonable length
If you’re applying for a professional non-creative job, make sure it looks clean and professional. Try to keep it at one page; get rid of any extra or irrelevant experience/skills. If you’re applying to a more creative job, show your quirks in your CV! One to two pages should be good, but again, keep all the content relevant to the job you’re applying to. Naturally, use your discretion when deciding what your CV should look like, how much quirk to inject into your CV, and what experience and skills you should have on there.
Make sure you have buzzwords
Have buzzwords on your CV in the sense that, when people skim over your CV, your most important and most relevant skills jump out at them. I have a ‘key skills’ section on my CV and I have beginner- and intermediate-level skills. I put that on the first page so that the recruiter is able to immediately match up my key skills with that they’re looking for.
So that’s about it! These are the most important tips that I picked up from changing CV1 to CV2. These might seem really obvious, but when you look at your CV through a critical lens, you might find that you’ve made the same mistakes I did and didn’t even realise it! Do let me know if you have any questions – just comment below. I’m always more than happy to help out!
Sidenote: I used ‘CV’ 29 times in this blog post, and for that, I do apologise.