You’re absolutely brilliant.
Yet... there seems to be a disconnect between the value that you know you can bring, and the message employers seem to get about what you can bring to the table.
Although you sent your CV to many openings, interview invitations are few and far in between – if they even come at all!
Something is wrong. You’re wondering where the disconnect is.
Why can’t they see how awesome you are?
Many times, the disconnect happens in the way your value is communicated on your CV.
Here are 5 easy changes you can make to turn your CV into a golden ticket to interviews.
Stop trying to cram everything into one page because someone told you that’s how long a CV should be. If it’s difficult to fit your work experience and education into one page, you should probably go to two pages – maybe even three if you have a longer work history.
Your CV should be as long as it needs to be in order to show how you are an amazing fit for the role.
That's it. Whatever you do, avoid facing the person reading your CV with a block of small text that is difficult to scan – and I chose the word ‘scan’ very deliberately, you’ll see why in point #2. If you want an interview invitation, annoying the person on the other end is not a good start. Keep them happy and engaged, and you’re more likely to get a favourable outcome.
Recruiters / hiring managers will initially scan your CV (they usually have a lot of them to go through!), and then decide if there’s a point to reading your CV in detail. If you clearly don’t have the required qualifications – or if you do have them, but they can’t see them on your CV – what’s the point in diving deeper into your work experience? Make it easy for the reader to scan your CV, and this will work in your favour.
How do you make it easy for the reader to scan your CV? You take advantage of the natural F- or E-shaped pattern which we naturally use when scanning documents; making sure that the most critical and enticing information about your qualifications, information which is directly relevant to the opening, is right where the reader’s eye naturally goes and spends time. Here are two resources to help you achieve this:
You need to customize your CV for each job opening. You might have heard of the importance of ‘keyword optimizing’ your CV – you’ll hear it a lot in the context of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). You can learn what ATS are here. Long story short, it’s a good idea to identify the keywords in the job posting which refer to the required / desired qualifications (think ‘Machine Learning’ or ‘Time management’), and make sure they are also included in your CV. This ensures that whatever ATS the company uses (that is, if they use one), and however they choose to use it, you have the best shot at being noticed as a great candidate for that job opening. Even if the company does not use an ATS, it’s still very worthwhile to use these keywords in your CV; these will be the kinds of words that recruiters and hiring managers reading your CV will scan for and expect to see. Including these keywords is also your ‘safety check’ to ensure that you have included all skills in your CV that are relevant to the role (and that you actually have!), thus increasing your chances to be invited to an interview.
Customizing your CV for each job opening might sound like a cumbersome task, however, I have good news! There are websites that can evaluate your CV against the job opening and tell you exactly where you need to make changes. Two such websites are Jobscan (this is an affiliate link and it will give you 10 bonus CV scans) and Resymatch (free). Do take advantage of these websites, as they can save you a ton of time and effort!
Show, don’t tell! So, the role that you are applying to needs someone who is great at persuading stakeholders. Don’t just list ‘Persuasion’ as one of your skills, show it by giving concrete examples under your previous roles of when your persuasion skills were important or even critical to achieving a business goal. And get specific. Who did you have to persuade, how did you do it, what business goal did you meet, did you meet this business goal in a special or extraordinary way? (e.g. did you exceed expectations in any way, did you bring in a lot of new customers, did you achieve the goal weeks ahead of schedule?). Furthermore, quantify these examples whenever you can – within the limits of your confidentiality agreements of course. Give a sense of your impact, of the magnitude and scope of your achievements. Be as specific as you can, while only giving the details that are relevant for the role. Specificity sells.
Lastly, get yourself an opening paragraph at the beginning of your CV. Remember what I was mentioning in point #2 about how people scan your CV? Visualize the first page of your CV. Now, focus on the first third of that page. This is an extremely important area where the reader’s eyes will definitely go and spend time reading.
So make it count.
Include a short 3-4 sentence paragraph that will serve as your ‘sales pitch’. Think of this as a summary of your experience, from the lens of what this specific position needs. As such, this paragraph will always be a little different, depending on the job you are applying to. If you only had 30 seconds to impress, what would you say? Write it down, and don’t be modest – include your biggest and most relevant achievement that is the exact kind of thing the employer will expect and value in this role.
Not quite sure what the employer will expect and value in this role? There’s many ways to find out what the role needs, and how to position yourself as an awesome candidate for the role. Most candidates will invest very little time and effort finding this out, and that is great news for you. It means you have the chance to stand out even more amongst hundreds of other applicants, giving you an incredibly strong shot at being one of the few candidates to be interviewed. Find out how to do it here.
PS: If once you make these 5 changes on your CV, you’d like a second pair of eyes on it to make sure that it’s the best it can possibly be, I’d be happy to review it for you.
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