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How to Make Your CV Stand Out From The Crowd By Jivan Dempsey

The lockdown, though critical in helping the country through the early days of the pandemic, has left us economically vulnerable with many organisations announcing restructuring and redundancies. According to the Office National Statistics (ONS), 650,000 people will have lost their jobs during the pandemic and many people have seen a reduction in their hours and […]

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The lockdown, though critical in helping the country through the early days of the pandemic, has left us economically vulnerable with many organisations announcing restructuring and redundancies. According to the Office National Statistics (ONS), 650,000 people will have lost their jobs during the pandemic and many people have seen a reduction in their hours and pay. With the furlough scheme set to end in October, the British Chamber of Commerce is reporting another 29% of businesses looking to cut jobs in the next three months. 

A big change from 2019, when only 7 percent of companies were cutting jobs. The reality will be an increasing number of job seekers on the market trying to secure a fewer number of available roles. So what can you do? Especially with recruitment agencies being bombarded with CVs? It’s imperative you can make yours stand out from the crowd. 

So if it’s time to dust off that CV, here are a few things to start considering. 

Structure it right 

Face it, recruiters get hundreds of CVs every day. Whether it’s manual or a digital process, the experienced recruiter is expecting your CVs to provide information that will help them quickly decide if they want to bring you in for an interview. Your CV has to catch their eye in seconds and match keywords and phrases from the role if you don’t want to end up in the “no” pile.  There’s never a right or wrong structure but there are some common areas that are always needed:

  • Contact details – trust me it needed saying! Getting the basics right is essential 
  • Personal statement – this is your opportunity to tell the recruiter something about you and why you fit the requirements for the role. Keep it short and snappy, no more than 2 paragraphs and save any information about your skills for the work experience section 
  • Key achievements – include any work and personal accomplishments. 
  • Qualifications and education – be proud of what you have done 
  • Work experience – try to word your experience so it’s relevant for the role. Think about what you delivered and what were the outcomes. If you don’t have much experience add in any placements that you’ve done or voluntary work as can be invaluable in your job search
  • Skills – everything from communication, technology, being part of a team, problem-solving, speaking other languages – these are all relevant!
  • Personal hobbies and interests – its good to know you have a life outside of work and what that is. Highlight the things that show off skills you’ve gained, for example, being part of a sporting team or organising events. Don’t include passive or solitary hobbies that might be construed that you prefer your own company. Make yourself sound really interesting.

Remember to keep it brief! Try not to go over 2 sides of A4 as most recruiters will make a judgement quickly. The recruiter’s eye will naturally fall in the upper, middle area of the first page – the CV hotspot – so make sure the most important information is there.

Tailor it to the job description

Structure your CV to the job description. The clues to what the recruiter is looking for are there so make sure you read it thoroughly. There’ll be bits that you can easily demonstrate with the experience you have but there’ll be other bits of the job description you might feel are missing. That’s OK. Think about all the roles you’ve done – even the small ones – as they demonstrate skills that are transferable to other roles. Get to grips with the valuable skills and experience you have gained from past work positions.

  • Tailor your CV to the words used in the job description – there is no such thing as a generic CV and it should be tweaked and adapted for every role you apply for so it’s relevant. By using key phrases in your CV you are matching the criteria the recruiter will be looking for
  • Use positive language such as “resulted in”, “created”, “delivered”, “organised” focusses the recruiter to the things you have accomplished rather than just the tasks you did. For example: “As a team leader we were successful in …”, “I introduced new clients to the business generating sales of …. “,I reorganised the department and we reduced the administration by … 
  • Create bullet points, in your CV that highlights the experience that matches the job description 
  • Be creative with the bits of the job description that you may not fulfil by thinking how you can draw from other work experience, for example, if you are applying for an administration role fill in any gaps by adapting work experience and emphasise the working to deadlines, coordinating aspects of the role. 

Your cover letter

Your cover letter is a fantastic opportunity to summarise your skills and experience and why you are a great fit for the role. Ensure you tailor your cover letter to the role as it’s the first impression the recruiter will have of you. Do some research on the company you are applying for and reflect some of this in your cover letter.

Keep your CV updated

Review your CV on a regular basis and add any new skills or experience as you gain them, for example, after completing training or gaining new experience such as completing a project. Make sure it’s on the CV and ready to be tailored to fit the next role.  Getting some professional feedback from a career coach can help you to think through how your CV can be adapted and structured for your job search 

Recruiters are always impressed with candidates whose cover letter and CVs look as though they have gone that extra mile and really understand the role they are applying for. It’s the well- researched cover letter and great looking CV that will help you to really stand out from the crowd. 

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