As a job seeker, your CV is almost always going to be the first impression you make to any prospective employer. And you surely know, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression – so it’s essential that your CV represents you in the best possible light.
As professional recruiters, we’re pickier than most – we screen hundreds of CV’s a day in order to ensure our clients only meet with the very best candidates for their open positions. Unfortunately, so many times we’re forced to discard a potential candidate for their CV alone; if our client is looking for a candidate with good attention to detail (and trust me, almost all employers look for this skill) we’re not going to suggest they hire a candidate whose CV was full of errors.
The same goes for cover letters. I’ll let you in on a secret; I almost always go straight to the CV first. If your CV is great, I won’t even need to look at the cover letter before calling you – you’ve already won me over. If you’re applying for a role where writing skills are essential, a good cover letter can make you really stand out from the pack – but a bad, poorly written one can almost undo your chances. If you don’t have the time to tailor your cover letter and ensure it’s impeccable, don’t include it.
Not sure if your CV is helping your job search? Here’s a handy checklist to make sure you impress us:
Format and Length:
Your CV should be anywhere from 1-4 pages in length; 2 pages is best, 1 page is perfect for recent graduates/entry level, and 4 pages should be reserved for more senior candidates. If this is proving tricky, look over your formatting: make columns and bullet points your friend.
This should always be easily found at the top of your CV. Include your first and last name, phone number, email and physical address. No need to over share: we don’t need to know how old you are, your marital status, or how many pets you have.
We are not fans of the skills-based resume – please list your previous employment in chronological order. When it’s not in order, we’re either going to have to ask you to re-do your CV, or (and this happens VERY rarely), kindly re-do it for you ourselves. Always start from your most recent employment and go backwards – if you do it in reverse, it’s confusing and at first glance it looks like you haven’t worked since the end date of your first job.
Include this information if you have space to spare, but it really isn’t necessary: we will always ask you if we need this information. A written reference letter included in your application can give entry-level candidates an edge, but otherwise, this isn’t needed either.
Sometimes I’ll have candidates act surprised when we ask for references. If you are in final stages of the interview process with one of our clients, you will need to provide two professional references, no exceptions. These references will need to be colleagues you have reported to previously.
There is no excuse for typos in your CV. None at all. Double check, triple check your CV and then have someone else look over it. A fresh pair of eyes will pick up mistakes much more easily than you – especially if you’ve been writing it in the middle of the night, in a hurry.
Please do not:
Highlight random aspects of your CV. I frequently receive applications where some parts of sentences are highlighted in yellow. Unless you’re highlighting information that shows you meet the job requirements, please don’t do this. It creates unnecessary mystery. No need to include track changes either. And no need to use coloured paper – white is perfectly fine, thank you.
Use CAPSLOCK. WRITING IN UPPERCASE GIVES THE IMPRESSION THAT YOU ARE VERY AGGRESSIVE OR ANGRY. IT’S AS IF YOU’RE SHOUTING AT US. We don’t want to be yelled at, so please stick to lower case.
Lie on your CV. We interview all candidates thoroughly. For some clients we also do testing – technical tests, grammar tests, etc. We also perform background checks and we always perform reference checks. Lying on your CV is a waste of your time and ours. If you haven’t used a certain technology is over 5 years and wouldn’t feel comfortable using it again – leave it off the CV.
It’s always such a thrill to receive applications from great candidates. When we see a CV that really stands out, we will always hold on to your information and give you a call, even if we don’t have a suitable position for you right now. Following our advice will help you improve your first impression.
Want to hear from us? Send us your CV!