Posted on 10/08/2021 by Matt Fox
Top Tips to Get Your CV Noticed
What are the main things you can do to get your CV noticed by recruiters? These are our tips!
Recruiters typically take less than eight seconds to scan a CV before putting it on the yes, no or maybe piles. That’s not much time at all to convince a complete stranger that you might be right for a life-changing career move.
That might sound brutal, but the fact is recruiters see a lot of CVs. Their reputation with employers also depends on putting forward suitable candidates. They simply don’t have time to spend on candidates who don’t make an immediate impression on the page.
So how can you make sure you’re in with a shout of getting onto the yes pile? Following our do’s and don’ts on how to get your CV noticed should help!
Keep it to two pages (or three for senior roles).
Our first top tip to get your CV noticed by recruiters assumes you’re not applying for a senior management or technical role where detail might be crucial. Even if you are, however, brevity should be a big consideration. For the majority of candidates going for every other role, a maximum of two pages will be more than enough. (You could even try for a single page if you think you can condense the info down enough!). And for more senior roles, stretch to three. Either way, though, it’s a good idea to get very clear about the key details you need, and cut everything else.
Start with your career story
A lot of ‘How to Get Your CV Noticed by Employers’ type of blog posts will tell you to open with a personal statement. But we like to see a career story. The big difference? The former works like a shortened cover letter, offering a summary of your experience, skills, and career goals. The latter presents a brief narrative of your roles to date, allowing you to draw attention to the specific ones you want the recruiter to focus on.
This is useful for a few reasons. For instance, when you’ve worked many different types of jobs, but want to highlight the common themes and experiences that make you suitable for the position you’re applying for.
Alternatively, let’s say you’re applying for a permanent position, but your recent roles have all been short-term contracts. You might want to steer a recruiter away from the possible perception that you’re fly-by-night by focusing on just how much of your career has actually been spent in permanent jobs.
Either way, a career story is designed to help a recruiter unpack the information in your CV, and make them want to read it in more detail.
Focus mainly on your current (or most relevant) role
Unless you’re switching to an entirely new career, the role you currently hold will be the most relevant to the one you’re applying for. That’s why it’s one of the things recruiters look for on a CV first.
Of course, there might be some exceptions to this – like if your current role is somewhat relevant, but one you did previous to it is a like-for-like match. Our suggestion either way is to pick the position that most closely resembles the one you’re going for and tailor your CV by making that section the most detailed.
It’s always a good idea to have a stock, generic version of your CV that you edit for different roles, and fleshing out the most relevant part of your experience in a way that’s relevant to each unique role can really be one of those quick changes that help your CV get noticed.
Discuss achievements over responsibilities
In terms of how you go about adding that detail, listing out the most important responsibilities of each role you’ve had is actually seen by consultants as a little lazy. What recruiters look for on a CV is punchy, impressive achievements, backed by numbers.
So, if you’ve increased Facebook follower numbers by 20,000 or improved operational efficiency by 50%, use those statistics to hammer home what you’ve achieved, and showcase what you might bring to your next role. It will help you stand out from the crowd- especially if you can then back it up by explaining how you got those results at interview!
Use specific keywords from the job spec
Lots of recruiters use tracking software to scan CVs for relevant keywords. One of the best CV tips from recruiters is therefore to take the words you feel are the most important and relevant on the job spec, and include them on your CV. Don’t do this to the degree it affects readability, of course. But definitely make the effort to include them where you feel they belong. It could be the difference between getting a call back, and chasing a recruiter on the phone to find out why you didn’t.
Clichés are easy to put on a CV, but one of our top tips to get your CV noticed is to avoid them as much as possible. (We’d say “like the plague,” but that would be a cliché!).
Every candidate we come across tells us they are “hard-working”. Many have “specialist knowledge,” and a good proportion of them also class themselves as “tenacious,” “energetic,” or “friendly.” But these are style words. What recruiters look for is substance. Instead, they want to be shown these characteristics – by the rest of your CV, and then ideally by your demeanour; on the phone, or in person. In every area, let your experience, achievements and personality do the talking.
Fill the gaps in your work history
Your CV is really a condensed form of your career story, so significant unaccounted-for time gaps between job roles can look like whole chapters are missing.
We appreciate that sometimes these things happen – and honestly, they’re not the end of the world. Maybe your old company went out of business and it took you a while to find the right fit for your next role. Perhaps you went travelling. Or you might have taken time out for family.
Whatever the reason, these especially large gaps are one of the things recruiters look for on a CV. Maybe don’t draw attention to the smaller ones, but explaining the more sizable gaps in writing can help your credibility and save you an awkward conversation when it comes to that first phone call.
Check for spelling and grammar!
As we mentioned at the outset, a recruiter’s reputation rests on the candidates they put forward. Professionalism is hugely important, and on your CV ‘being professional’ means making sure it’s flawlessly proofread and edited for spelling and grammar mistakes. It doesn’t take long to do, either. Simply press the ‘spelling and grammar’ button in Word and make those quick changes that help your CV get noticed.
Ready to apply for your next role?
If you’ve followed our top tips to get your CV noticed, you’ll be in with an excellent chance of making it past the first phase of the candidate selection process. And if not – maybe that’s because you haven’t found a suitable role yet to give you the motivation?
Check out our current vacancies then take a look back through this post to make sure your CV is the best it can be before you hit ‘apply’.
Or, for direct advice on sprucing up your CV, get in touch with us today.