Hiring managers in the UK spend only 8.8 seconds looking at a CV to decide whether the candidate should be considered, says a recent study by The National Citizen Service. With the recruiters’ attention span falling, a modern CV must have this ability to make an immediate impression.
So what a modern CV should look like? How to optimise it for an automated applicant tracking system? What to exclude or include in the CV? You may have many more questions. So here are 6 tips on how to update your CV to make it stand out in the crowd in 2016.
1. Leave out the objective statement
If your current CV starts with a generic objective statement, such as, “Looking for a challenging job to utilise my skills and experience,” – delete it right away! Hiring managers care less about what you are looking for and more about what value you can bring to their organisation. So replace your objective statement with an executive summary. Talk about your relevant skills, professional experience, and achievements.
2. Make it easy to contact you
Hiring managers are pressed for time. Make it easy for them to contact you by adding a live link to your email address. That way, you can help them get in touch with you at one click. Also, hyperlink your website and other relevant social media profiles. Do not include too much contact information. Just one active phone number and one email address would suffice. You don’t even need to provide your full mailing address. Simply provide your city, state, and postcode.
3. Use the right keywords
Most recruiters now use applicant tracking software to filter out irrelevant CVs. If you do not optimise your CV with the right keywords, your CV may not even reach the hiring manager. If you are not sure which keywords to use, consider simulating the language of the job posting, as much as possible. You can also have a look at the company website, especially the “About us” and “Career” sections, to get an idea of the type of keywords they use. For instance, when you are applying for a managerial position, you may want to use phrases like ‘leadership skill’ and ‘team player.’
4. Focus on the future
While your CV should have a mention of your past experience, the focus should be on the future – or how you are going to use your experience in the next job. Think of your CV as a sales presentation, rather than a chronology of your past achievements. Customise the layout to your current career goals. For instance, a fresh graduate should highlight her academic credentials with dates, while an experienced professional should focus more on her relevant work experience. If you changed your profession recently, you don’t need to provide details of your earlier work experiences with dates. Just a recap of your previous career would suffice. The focus should be on your current career goals and future plans.
5. Keep it short
Ideally, you should have a one-page CV, with only the most essential information included in it. If, however, you have a long career history and varied work experience, you can use two pages, but remember every word counts. Avoid stating the too obvious, such as, “references available upon request.” Also, leave out filler phrases, such as, “responsible for” or “roles and responsibilities include….” One good idea would be to use bullet points, wherever possible. Also, consider starting each point with an action verb. Rather than using adjectives like result-driven, use real numbers to substantiate your claims. Also, present the numbers in a context. For instance, rather than saying, “Achieved an annual turnover of $50000,” say “Achieved an annual turnover of $50000, up 30 percent from the previous year.”
6. Don’t ignore design and formatting
Making your CV visually attractive is also important. Keep enough white space and leave out space between paragraphs. You can use colours, charts, and graphs as well, but make sure they go well with your industry standards. Also, format your CV to enhance readability. Hiring managers skim rather than read a CV. So consider using bolded words, short paragraphs, headings, subheads, and enough bullet points in the text.