On the Importance of a Good CV
According to research, a single job opening can receive up to 250 different CVs. For some, this might make applying for jobs even more daunting than it undoubtedly already is. However, it also highlights the importance of having a good CV which can stand out from the competition.
The importance of a good CV cannot be overstated – it is undoubtedly the single most important document you will ever put together during your job hunting endeavours. That’s why we’ve put together a guide on how a CV can make or break your hopes of getting hired.
One CV or more?
Should you have one CV which you use for every application? Definitely not, your CV should be slightly different for each job you apply to, or at least for every industry you plan on applying to.
Before sending out applications, make a shortlist of jobs and tailor a few different CVs according to each broad job category on the list. This means ensuring each CV emphasises the skills and competencies you have which are most relevant to that position. Of course, some transferable skills such as communication skills will stay on your CV no matter what position. However, the main focus should be on the specific skills which you know the employer is looking for in that particular role.
Slightly tweaking your CV for each job you apply to and removing anything irrelevant will help it to make more of an impact with hiring managers. This bring us to the next point: knowing your audience and how to appeal to them.
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Writing for Hiring Managers and Recruiters
Your CV should be just like any other document you write – it must be written with a specific audience in mind. People in this line of work aren’t only highly versed in identifying important points in what they read, they will often use automated search tools to look for relevant keywords to the current role.
As such, it’s important that you tweak your CV to include keywords which link to the role you’re applying for. A good place to look for these is in the job description; if you use similar language to what the employer uses, not only will this help your CV be flagged by search tools, it will help you stand out to the hirer because it shows you know what you’re talking about.
Making your CV as legible and straightforward as possible is also a major selling point for anyone looking at it. It doesn’t matter how strong a candidate you might be, if the person assigned with screening applicants is put off by the way in which information is presented, you’ll never be shortlisted.
In order to help hiring managers out and increase your chances of getting selected for an interview your CV should:
Be legible and easy to follow
Be organised in reverse chronological order
Emphasise the skills which are most relevant to the role
Not include any general, superfluous information
Engage the person reading it and convince them that you’re the right candidate
We have dealt with the specifics of making your CV more appealing in our other post on how to make your CV stand out in 5 steps.
One of the points made there, which we can expand upon, is how to personalise your CV. It should be personalised enough to stand out without being confusing or unclear. Because this is generally the employer’s first impression of you, you should make sure that it represents you and shines a good light on your career so far.
While there is a lot of wiggle room when it comes to how your CV can look, it is generally good to:
Present headings so that they are clearly visible
Use bullet points to allow employers to quickly get to the part they’re interested in
Remember, clarity and conciseness shouldn’t be sacrificed, no matter how you decide to personalise your CV.
Focus on outcomes
The natural instinct is to just jot down everything you did while working in a particular role. While listing your activities will certainly give the employer a good idea of what your previous responsibilities were, companies will want to know how those roles have helped you grow and how they have shaped you into the professional you are today. Focusing on outcomes means emphasising how different work activities have contributed to your development and enhanced your current skill set.
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The importance of a good CV goes beyond using it to land an interview
The importance of a good CV doesn’t only stem from the fact that it is your first, and often only point of contact with employers. It can also be a great tool for:
Orienting yourself in your job search by having a clear picture of what you’ve done so far and where your career is heading. Your CV should always be kept up to date anyway, but especially if you want to use it for this purpose.
Helping you prepare for your interview by identifying potential talking points and questions your interviewers might ask based on what you’ve written down in your CV. In fact, your CV will in many cases set the agenda for your interview, so keep this in mind when writing it.
So, while your CV is written with your potential employers in mind, it is also a tool you can use to both track your progress and boost your interview preparedness.
The importance of a CV during the hiring process is huge; it is often the only document managers and recruiters have to go by to decide on your worthiness as a candidate. We hope this article has alerted you to some previously unknown uses for your CV as well as illuminating how to create a good CV.
Once your CV is taken care of, you can start preparing for the next phase of your job hunt: the interview. Our job interview checklist in 4 steps gives useful pointers for both pre and post-interview techniques which can be used to impress employers. Furthermore, completing one or two mock interviews before each actual job interview you have will help you tremendously – if you’re unsure how a mock can help you, check out our previous post where we answer the question ‘why are mock interviews so important?”.
Another tool you might find useful come interview day is our guide on how to explain employment gaps. It is a well-known fact that such gaps are looked upon with suspicion by employers – knowing how to properly justify yours could mean the difference between landing a job and walking away disappointed.
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