Apparently on average, employers spend only 8 seconds looking at any one CV. While this gives you a very brief window of time to impress, it’s still possible to stand out amongst the crowd in those crucial 8 seconds. So to help get you that dream job, or any graduate job, we spoke to various employers and recruitment agencies to hear about the best CVs they’ve received and to give you some pointers.
The best thing to put on your CV is list of 4 to 6 examples of how you helped your employer measurably increase profits or reduce costs. Companies want employees who help them increase profits, so job applicants who list such financial accomplishments on their CVs stand out and get favourably noticed.
– Michael Mercer, Ph.D., author of book Job Hunting Made Easy.
Make an impression
The people I invite for interview are those who make me feel something in those first few seconds. I want to see individuality, passion, curiosity and genuine enthusiasm rather than stock phrases. Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear. Be yourself, be authentic, be honest. Bring yourself to life for me. Make it real. Tell me why it should be you that gets offered that precious interview slot.
Don’t forget to personalise. It takes only a moment to look at a company’s website and find the name of the MD. You’d be amazed at how many CVs are addressed to ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, or ‘To whom it may concern’.
There’s no question that presentation is important – I don’t want to see a wall of text. Make it easy to look at and read. Choose a good typeface, plenty of line space, adequate margins on both sides. Bring the thing to life with good headings: just because it’s a ‘formal’ CV doesn’t mean you can’t bring your own individuality to it.
I’m less interested in academic qualifications but I am particularly keen to see someone who has done something for themselves, who can show evidence of proactivity, travel, working in a team, people who have actively sought work experience or engaged in making a difference in their community.
All these things tell me that I’m dealing with someone who is prepared to strive for something, someone who understands something of what it takes to work in a team and how important it is to make a difference. These are qualities I value hugely in my team. Don’t bury this information at the bottom of the CV. This is the information I want to see prominently displayed, not necessarily your hard-earned qualifications.
– Hems de Winter, Chief Executive at de Winter.
Best thing you can do on a CV is to make sure you input the correct telephone number. It’s so easy to miss a digit that it can basically be the difference between getting a job or not.
– Joe Flanagan, Senior CV Consultant at Velvet Jobs.
A well laid out CV always successful. So at the top have your name, contact information and location. For the profile section have a bit about the candidates skills and strengths. For employment history, list the most recent first and more information about current or last role than any others. The education section should be brief and any additional information/ interests should only be included if you know the company you are applying for will appreciate them.
Something different with the style of CV is also good (if possible). For example, I have seen CVs that look like a google home page, have been laid out with technical skills in percentage form, used different colours in the text to make words or phrases stand out. If you have the skills to make a CV stand out (graphic designers especially) then you should do it.
– Fiona Cudworth-Elks, Account Management Team Leader at Easy Online Recruitment.
A CV is the first ‘first impression’ anyone can make to a prospective employer, and the more it stands out, the better. Obviously the personal information contained has to tick the boxes, but anything that lets us into the personality and creative ability of the individual will always warrant further interest, for example the cleanliness of the design, or beautiful typography perhaps.
Go one step further and give your CV a creative idea that truly demonstrates your understanding of your audience and the likelihood of a positive response from us is increased substantially. For example, don’t do a standard 3-page A4. If you’re an interactive designer, why not lay out your cv like a platform game?
– Richard Kenyon, Advertising Art Director at Wunderman.
Give your expectations
It helps to include what salary you’re looking for and when you’re available to interview and to start. Your contact numbers also help, it’s surprising the number of CVs without them.
– Kevin Robson, Managing Director at Capable Consultants Limited.
Say what you’re good at
An outstanding CV I’ve seen had a short personal profile but a straight to the point career objective, followed by key transferable skills highlighted in bullet points. The employment history was linked to the candidate’s key achievements that described how he added value at each company he worked for. It was only a one-page CV with all the information I needed to know.
We hope this helps you get that precious interview! If you have any other CV tips, let us know in the comments!