Will your CV pass the 5 second challenge?

As the world begins to return to normal, competition between candidates for jobs is set to explode as a post-pandemic boom comes into play. Not only will we likely see a plethora of newly created roles estimates suggest that the ending of the furlough scheme could see an additional ¼ million people entering the jobs market – competitors!

The ability to ‘sell’ yourself as the applicant of choice has never been as great as it is now and the first opportunity you have at your disposal is your CV. But in many industries, hiring managers and recruiters can receive hundreds of applications for each job, and so they need to get through them quickly to sort the wheat from the trough.

With most recruiters spending an average of only 5-7 seconds looking at your CV, you need to make your stand out…. and fast. So, how can you make your CV stand out?

Don’t forget the basics

Your personal details should always be at the top of your CV so recruiters can easily get in touch with you. Make sure to include your email, phone number and a link to your LinkedIn profile. Spelling and grammar mistakes are common turn-offs for recruiters. Check and then check again. It’s also a good idea to ask a few trusted friends or family members to proofread for you.

Start with a short profile

Start your CV with a short profile of yourself that gives recruiters a sense of who you are and your career goals. It should be a statement both of proven ability and intent. By this we mean that when considering a CV, the hiring manager wants to know ‘How will this person benefit our business, what can they offer that’s different to other applicants and what we already have?’

Avoid the temptation to simply talk about what you have done in your most recent role – that won’t make you stand out if all you’re doing is stating nothing more than your job description. Focus on the So, what? Factor. Did you increase sales by 25% year-on-year? Perhaps you identified a problem within the company and found a solution that reduced costs and boosted productivity?

Remember, employers want to see tangibles – the things that you did which positively impacted your current or previous employer. Don’t forget to make reference to why you are looking to change jobs – this is the first thing an employer will be asking. Think carefully about your answer which could be along the lines of: “Career opportunities with my current employer are few and far between and I feel my ambitions will be better met elsewhere.”

Your profile should only be two or three sentences, but it needs to be memorable and pack a punch to catch the hiring managers attention.

Keep it simple

Keep the layout simple and easy to navigate. You might think fancy formatting will help catch a recruiter’s eye, but in reality the most successful CVs are very basic – Ariel 10 or 11. One or two pages is the standard length for a CV. Keep it concise and focused. Using bullet points for each section helps make it easy for the recruiter to read and avoids any unnecessary waffle.

Tailor to the role

A recruiter can spot a generic CV from a mile away. It is time-consuming but tailoring your CV to the specific job you are applying for is one of the best ways to stand out. Be specific, not general – you need to show how passionate you are about this particular role. Respond directly to the job description and relate your accomplishments to the elements of the job role. Make sure you only focus on relevant skills and experience, instead of listing everything you’ve ever done.

Don’t undervalue achievements.

It’s easy to undersell yourself, but there is no room for modesty in CVs. Now is the time to shout about your achievements and success. Highlight skills you’ve gained in previous roles and include what you have achieved rather than just listing your duties. A CV is a marketing document whereby you are the seller, and the employer is the buyer. So, make your application appealing to them because they need to feel confident that the investment they make in you is the right one.

Include soft skills

Soft skills have proven their worth in 2020 and are now at the top of hiring managers wish list in 2021. As the workplace adapts, unique human characterises, such as initiative, emotional intelligence and resilience will be prioritised. Sprinkling your skills throughout your CV shows you are aware of their importance and is often preferred to having a separate skills section.