When I’m asked for my top CV tips I always recommend that you edit your CV for every application. If you consider that vacancies can attract on average 250 CVs and the employer will take between 5-7 seconds to make an initial scan of your CV, even the smallest tweak can give you an advantage and make the difference between an interview and a rejection.
The key thing to remember is that you are editing your CV to make it easier for the employer to see the information they need and how you match it, not to tell them about the role you most enjoyed or excelled at.
Recently, clients have been asking me what is the best to approach editing their CV, so I’ve put together my top tips for CV editing.
- Read all the job information available. This might seem obvious, but it is surprising how many people send off a CV based on the advert alone. At the very least, read the job description and person specification if they are available. Try to form an opinion about what skills, knowledge and experience are most relevant to the employer.
- Once you have read all the information, ask someone else what they think the employer is looking for. It might be very different to your opinion. This is because it is only human nature for job applicants to focus on how they match some of the criteria on the job description and pay less attention to others. This means you may lose sight of what’s most important to the employer.
- Pay particular attention to essential and desirable skills. Different employers might call them different things, but in essence, essential skills are what the employer has decided are needed for you to do the job successfully, right now. If you don’t have all the essential skills, it is very unlikely you will get an interview. A simple way to help the employer is to re-order the information on your CV, so the essential skills come first.
- Don’t forget to re-order your profile as well so that essential skills are first and foremost.
- Have a look at the company website or literature, and pay attention to the type of language they use. For example, do they use customer or client, supplier or contractor, accountancy or finance? Wherever possible, adapt your CV to incorporate their language and terminology, always making sure that the CV still reads sensibly. This is a very subtle way of indicating that you are already a good fit for the organisation and culture.