Hello bloggers and readers,
Today I received a huge amount of applications to our Company. When you have to look at so many CVs a day, you can't help but think “Jesus, who taught this person how to write up a CV? This is terrible!” or “Wow this person seems amazing for the opening we have”. So, I decided to write an entry focusing on some tips for you to improve your CV and get more interest and more calls when applying to a job.
Tip number 1 – Less is More
No, I'm not talking about make up. When people add information about their academic background to their CV, many of them commit the following mistake: they include every useless seminar they have attended, where they did their Kindergarten, and even where they were taken for day care . Well ladies and gentlemen, this is completely Irrelevant! When speaking about your Academic Background, provide only the information that will be useful for a job. How do you know what's useful? When looking at your CV, people will not care about your kindergarten, or about a seminar about wine catering that has nothing to do with your career. Several companies will not even care about your High School years. What matters the most here is your professional degree, what your thesis was about if it applies, and any seminar that added value to you as a professional, and anything that sets you apart from the crowd.
This tip also applies to your Work Experience. Here's a big mistake that I've seen on several CVs. People just add everything and anything they have ever done, from handing flyers or promotional material on the streets, to selling cosmetics, to wrapping up Christmas presents for a department store, to holding a managerial position. Well, let me tell you something. Think about the type of job you are applying to. If you are looking for a serious job, then dismiss the experience you have in babysitting kindergarteners. It will not give a good impression. If you are applying to a summer job where you have to promote a product or hand flyers on the streets or near beaches, then add your previous experience in this field. You may have years of experience in babysitting and sales, but if you're applying to a company that has no interest in this experience, it's better that you remove it. It's very likely that the HR executive in charge of recruitment will overlook your relevant experience if it gets lost within the irrelevant one.
Tip number 2 – Highlight your skills
During my experience in recruitment, I have also noticed how some people never put any special highlight on their skills. What do I mean by this? People limit their information to adding their work experience and their academic background. You should always focus on any particular skills you have that make you good at what you do, be it leadership skills, programming skills, people management skills or language skills. Perhaps you studied art, but you are really good at using financial software, and not just photoshop. Now, don't take this tip to extremes. If you're an Engineer, then the fact that you can use MSN Messenger well is irrelevant. Think about your previous experience and what you did best at. Perhaps you were really good and handling pressure and respecting deadlines. Maybe you had good communication skills and always managed to convey the information to your clients and supervisor. Or perhaps you were really good at problem solving and trouble shooting. There is always something to highlight that can interest an employer. Again, don't go to extremes and highlight things that make you a better professional and a better person.
Tip number 3 – Sell Yourself
This tip has proven to bring great results. People will reconsider your CV even if it has been rejected on a first round. How do you sell yourself? One very effective way is by adding a cover letter. A cover letter should include the following themes:
- Provide brief professional information . This includes your profession, your postgraduate degrees, and a brief on your previous work experience. Don't go deep into detail here, as that should be covered in your CV.
- Explain why you are applying to this position and why at this company. It's important to modify your cover letter depending on the job/company you are applying to. Having a standard cover letter that you can modify would be the best option. Show the recruiter that you have done some research on their Company by explaining what motivated you to apply there.
- Highlight previous achievements. Again, you shouldn't go deep into detail here, leave that for your CV, but be sure to highlight your greatest achievements at other organisations with relevant characteristics.
- Tell them how you'd add value to their organisation. Provided you have done research on the Company, be sure to show them how You could be an asset to them. You can back this up with your previous experience, achievements or your background. Be sure to elaborate on what motivated you the most to apply, mentioning personal and professional reasons.
- Finish the letter with a strong argument as to why they should pick you. Maybe you have previous experience in the field; maybe you have the qualifications they require, or perhaps you are a loyal and perseverant leader. Show them that they will not find the qualities you possess in every applicant. Show them why they should call you up for an interview, even if you don't end up getting the job.
Cover letters are important, but try to keep them short and interesting. One page is more than enough. If it's too long and complicated, the recruiter will skip through it and might miss out on important details about you. So be sure to catch their attention from the start.
Tip number 4 – Contact information and References
Believe it or not, I have received CV's from people who fail to provide a phone number and an e-mail address. Always put this information on the first page, either on the header or on the first paragraph. A phone number and a valid e-mail address is crucial if you wish to be contacted, as smoke signals aren't very popular these days.
Professional references are always welcome. It's not necessary that you provide a huge list of contact details for people you've been involved with professionally in the past, but two or three names and e-mails would suffice. You can also finish your e-mail with “References upon request”, and always have your list of verified references handy. Don't include friends and family, as their opinion on you will be biased. If you don't have previous work experience, then you can always provide information about your teachers and tutors at University. They will be able to highligh your skills and your performance while you were a student. This can help you in your initial quest.
Tip number 5 – Don't add a photo
Although it has been prohibited in some countries to add or request a photo on a resume, some people still include them voluntarily. Unfortunately, and to their dismay, a photo can ruin a good CV. I have seen CVs with the most awful photos, and as they say “an image is worth a thousand words”. If you appear half naked or drinking at a party on this photo, it doesn't matter how good the CV is if you are causing the wrong impression. I have received CVs where girls put full body pictures, as if they were posing for a magazine or something. Some people add angry photos that look as if they had just come out of jail. Now, I always try to ignore any prejudice when looking through a CV, but you might not be as lucky with other people. Don't add a photo unless it's a very professional one. You should ideally be dressed up, and the photo should be taken at a studio. Don't smile too much, but don't look angry either. Look professional without missing the You aspect. Again, it's better not to add a photo at all, but if you feel the need, be careful.
Tip number 6 – Don't add salary expectations.
This is also a very important aspect that you cannot miss. Adding salary expectations, especially when they are high, can mislead the reader. You have to be open to negotiate and always focus on your career growth more than the money you expect to make. Usually when I get a CV with high salary expectations I don't contact the person, unless they are applying to a role where the salary requested is within the range. Be realistic and don't overrate yourself. However, low salary expectations can also be misleading. If I receive a CV from a good professional who expects a very poor salary, it makes me think that they don't value their own work. This is why my best advice is not to include them in your CV at all. They will be discussed in due time during the interviews. Don't risk not being contacted because of this detail.
Well my friends, this are the first tips I'm giving you. I hope you can use them wisely, and be sure to comment after reading! Stay tuned for more on my next entry. I will also include a few interview tips.
Thanks for reading.