Before you even get to meet potential employers, you have to pass the first test – the CV test. With an average of 52 applications per graduate job, according to the High Fliers graduate market survey, they are looking for every chance to eliminate you from the process.
Here is a guide to make sure you stay at the front of the pack:
Spelling and grammar – It sounds so obvious but one mistake will relegate you to the bin. It destroys their confidence in your attention to detail and infers that you’re illiterate. If you’re no English whizz, get a friend or acquaintance that is to help you.
Tailor your CV – Sure, it takes ages and can make applying for jobs seem pedantic; news flash – job searching should be full-time! What else have you got to do? If you make one CV and send it out to every employer, chances are, you won’t meet the job spec they’re after. It’s the same story for cover letters. Read the requirements of the job and get something on your résumé that fits each point, taking out what isn’t relevant. Even if you’re a rocket scientist, if you’re applying for a retail assistant job, it isn’t applicable. (Note – if you’re a rocket scientist, don’t apply for a retail assistant job…)
Be concise – Recruiters look at each CV for an average of six seconds, before deciding your fate. So all waffling and drawn out sentences do is prolong your unemployment. Get to the point and put the most important things, like key skills, high up in your résumé. For example: “I have sales skills garnered from a wide variety of retail experiences in a range of market sectors” vs “I have sales skills and retail experience”. Get the point?
Leave out the ‘hobbies’ section – Sure, they tell you that you’re interest in ‘etymology of Afrikaans’ makes you stand out as a well-rounded individual but it’s extremely rare that any hobbies are relevant to your job. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of accountants that are marathon enthusiasts with a taste for prog-reggae-euro pop (I made that genre up) but neither of those hobbies make them better at their job. Even worse is the generic ‘I like music, sport and reading’ – who doesn’t?!
In short, simplicity and accuracy is the key to getting through to the interview stage. Save what makes you unique for when you meet them – it’ll wow them far more than reading it on paper.
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