Build an outstanding CV to get noticed

Recruiters spend less than 8 seconds reading a CV before making a GO or NO-GO decision. Well, they don’t really read the CV; instead, they merely “skim” it for details. Now, if you’re thinking “did the recruiter even get to page 5 of my CV”, I suggest you stay with me on this one. Proactive has put together the best way to build a CV (résumé) to get noticed for you in this article. Recruiters receive many applications, the majority of which are irrelevant to the job. So, if you are unable to get past the CV screening, you may forget about the interview altogether.

What are recruiters looking for in a CV (résumé)?

A recent study by The Ladders sheds some light on recruiters’ decision-making behaviour. This research highlights the link between the quality of a CV and the job seeker’s chances of being noticed. Recruiters are looking for your work experience, education, skills, and achievements that relate to the specific job opening or application – all these within only 8 seconds.

Things to avoid putting on a CV to avoid it from ending up in the bin

If your CV fails to present your experience accurately and highlight your skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, then it is a poor CV. The hiring manager or recruiter will read that CV and may think that you need to work on your attention to detail and immediately choose to move to another applicant on the list.

You can be sure your CV will end up in the (recycle) bin if some of these are apparent:

  • Clutter
  • Poor layout
  • Confusing flow
  • Bad formatting
  • Too many pages
  • Unexplained gaps
  • Lacking keywords

Focus on the “must-have” criteria as listed in the job description; these are non-negotiable, and if you do not have them in your CV, then it is a NO-GO. Well, you shouldn’t even be applying for the position in the first place.

Six tips to make your CV stand out

Each time you apply for a job, you will need to adapt your CV! Start off by reading the job description; take notes and highlight everything you can satisfy, and all the bits you can’t. With the areas where you’re lacking, fill in the blanks by adapting the skills you do have.
  1. Two pages max. Keep it concise and to the point; no more than 2 pages.
  2. One size doesn’t fit all. Avoid using the same CV to apply for every single job. Consider adapting it to match the job profile, competencies, and experience.
  3. Use keywords. Ensure you use keywords that match the job posting (including jargon).
  4. Structure the layout. Organize the information (including the order of each section and the general information that you put in each of those sections).
  5. List your skills & competencies. If you have them, ensure you mention the skills and competencies that fit with the position you are applying for (as per the job description).
  6. Highlight your accomplishments. Instead of listing your duties and responsibilities, focus on your accomplishments in your role (preferably quantitative).

You can skip the part about your marital status, date of birth, or complete home address; the hiring manager has no intention to come to your home for tea. It’s okay to add a headshot (as long as it portrays an image of you that fits with the role/company’s culture and values).

CV templates and further reading recommended by Proactive

You can find excellent CV templates on Novorésumé; they are free to use. However, if you want to take full advantage of all their premium features – including personalization, and cover letter templates – then you’ll need to upgrade. Once you have updated your CV with our tips, you are now ready to send your applications on our portal.

Written by Ashish Khatry, CXO at Proactive Talent

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