We all have been in a situation where we desperately needed a job. It could have been because we have recently graduated from college or university, because we were fired or laid off, or simply because we were in search of a better to place to work at. Either way, those of us that had to look for a new job know how much of a pain it can be. Writing the CV alone can already take a huge amount of time and effort. The process is actually very similar to being at work – exhausting and stressful!
Today I want to share with you something that has helped me tremendously in the process of searching for a job. On the Internet you will be able to find thousands of methods and techniques of presenting yourself well at a job interview. You will be told things such as: be confident, know your material, prepare, look in the interviewer’s eyes, ask questions, and many many more. All of these tips are valuable and definitely should be taken into consideration. But, there is one problem… HOW DO I GET THE INTERVIEW?!
While it is extremely important to know how to act at a job interview, it is just as important to know how to write a quality CV that will get you the interview. I personally have studied to become a software developer, and I must say that although there is much work for developers, very little of us are taken seriously right after the studies, just as with any other profession. And although it is up to the interviewer/employer to make the final decision whether you are the right person for the job, you can definitely make an impact on that decision before even arriving to the interview. As many of you have probably already noticed, I want to talk about writing the perfect CV.
The process of writing the perfect CV is no walk in the part I must say. It can take days to make a CV that will look attractive, and weeks or even months of ongoing corrections to make it suitable for many different job vacancies. Nevertheless, there are tips and tricks that each job seeker should know about before sitting down to write his or her CV.
Visual appearance of the CV
The first thing that an employer or whoever that is in charge of the process will be looking at is the appearance of your CV. In order to make the best first impression, the CV must look professional! This means that everything about it should be visually appealing. Margins need to be consistent, and content must be formatted well. Obviously capital letters, grammar and punctuation cannot be neglected. Everything must point out to the fact that you are a professional and know how to lay out your past experiences. And if you don’t have much experience, then the appearance is exceptionally important for you.
The content and writing style of the CV
Let’s suppose that you have taken care of how your CV or resume looks like. Now you also must ensure that your CV has the content that the person reading the CV is looking for.
One thing to consider here is writing a summary statement. This statement should be concise, should catch the eye of the reader, should make him or her want to keep reading. The goal of this statement is to sell you.
Doing vs achieving
One mistake that most of us, including me, make in writing the CV is referring to past experience in the form of doing, instead of achieving. For example, you may be describing your past job tasks with the following statements: I did this…, I did that…, this was done…. From these statements it is clear that you did something (captain obvious), but there is no passion involved.
The entire CV should be written a similar manner. You should be able to show the reader that you have made a difference in your working life. You must show that you are an achiever!
Avoid passive language
Avoid passive language and common verbs. Instead of “talked over with clients, sold goods, worked during the weekends”, make use of “I accomplished, I created significant sales, I managed and took under control, handled with excellence, delivered no matter what”.
CV and the software
Applicant Tracking System
One thing that I never thought about was the fact that many open vacancies receive thousands of CVs, and to filter out the ones that are not suitable, a special software is used. An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is often used by large corporations, but also can be found with smaller ones as well. As already mentioned, its objective is to filter out the matching CVs from the rest through the use of different criteria, such as keywords, years of experience, previous employers or any other that can come to mind.
Having my CV run through this type of software, I was very surprised to see that some of my least important skills were the ones to be noticed most. This motivated me to make immediate changes in order to make sure that I am noticed for the skills that are the most crucial, the ones that I aimed at using in my future job.
The document itself
Another aspect to consider is the CV document size and format. When applying at first, I used PDF format simply because I thought that it is the the most convenient to open and read, for a human that is. However, realizing that a software program may be in charge of the future of my career, I learned that PDF is definitely not the best solution. Many of the older ATS systems out there are not good “friends” with PDF files, and prefer standard Word files (.doc) instead.
Finally, have your file as small as possible. The CV that I then thought of as perfect had some spaced out text and a small photo of my face (2 mb altogether). Later I found out that my CV was 98% HEAVIER than all the other CVs out there!!! I had to make some serious corrections with the fonts, the image, and the general layout of the document. In the end I was able to significantly reduce the size of it.
As you can see, writing a CV is even harder than you might have thought. Not only it requires you to structure your past experience in a way that the reader could find it attractive, but you also have to keep in mind what software applications do and do not like in a CV. Finding the balance between the two can be a demanding task.
My past “best” CV is nothing in comparison to what I have today. In order to create a CV of top quality, I used the help of professionals. The results were very significant. The amount of adjustments I received allowed me jump from an interview once a month to two interviews a week! Don’t get me wrong, you can definitely make a great CV on your own, but if you are looking for something that could take your CV to a whole new level, you could ask the Internet for help. I did some research and found the following websites: My Perfect Resume, James Innes Group, Great Resumes Fast.
Some are able to help you master your CV writing skills, and some will even write the whole CV for you!!!
In conclusion I want to say that writing a powerful CV is difficult, but because its quality plays such a big role in your future, it definitely makes sense to spend some time making it as good as possible. It is a demanding task, but if all guidelines are followed correctly, your CV may be your key to glory and success (no joke)!
Please comment and let me know about your experience with your CV and how it did or did not help you with finding your dream job. I would be happy to hear about it. 🙂