Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) is most often the first impression you make with your job application. The CV is the first document a recruiter will look at after receiving your job application. Your CV is not only your first impression, it is the first chance to promote yourself and to stand out from other applicants. This is why it worth it to spend some extra to write and design your CV. Here are 10 ways to make your CV stronger and improve your first impression at your job application.
1. Customize your CV for every single job application.
This may sound like a lot of work to some, but customizing your CV for every job application is crucial to increase your chances of success. Each job advertisement and job description gives you specific information about what a company thinks is important for a candidate to be suitable for the specific role. Job advertisements are packed with little hints that you can use to fine-tune your CV. Look for keywords within each job description. These keywords will be on the recruiter’s shortlist when they are scanning all the CV’s. Make sure to use these keywords where possible in your CV. Make sure to highlight the experience or skill that they think is needed for this job.
2. Treat your CV as the one and only chance to impress a recruiter.
A recruiters spends an average of just 7 seconds to scan a CV. They often make a first selection based on this short scan. If you don’t pass this first selection, your excellent cover letter will not even be read at all. Your CV is not only the first impression you, it is your ticket to pass this first selection. Traditionally the cover letter is the designated place to tell about your personality and personal skills. Nowadays you have to include this information in your CV. Don’t split up important information between your CV and your cover letter. In your cover letter you have more room to elaborate about your personality, personal skills and motivation, but make sure to mention all crucial information in your CV as well.
3. Add a personal profile or personal statement to your CV.
A great way to add information about your personality to your CV is to add a personal profile or personal statement. In this personal profile you should mention your most relevant personality traits. Write in a couple short sentences the keywords of your personality, experience, ambition and motivation. Even just mentioning the keywords can be enough. Position this personal profile at the top of your CV, even before your professional experience. The personal profile is like a summary of your application in a couple of sentences. Read more about how to write a personal profile / statement here.
4. Bullet points keep your CV easy to scan
- Bullet points are easy to read
- Use bullet points to sum up your tasks, responsibilities and achievements to keep your working experience readable
- Avoid big chunks of text on your CV by using bullet points
- Bullet points keep your CV easy to scan
5. Use plenty of white space in between the elements of your CV
Keep every piece of information easy to read by separating each section with some white space. It is better to use two pages for your CV that are easy to read than to cramp all your information on one page. Cramping the text on your CV will make your CV look like one big piece of text that is difficult to read and to scan quickly.
6. Use fonts that are easy to read
A font can make a huge difference for the readability of your CV. Pick a font that is easy to write and doesn’t distract the reader. Don’t use more than two different fonts in your documents (one for titles/headers and one for body text).
7. Use a clear structure to build your CV
A CV consists of different elements. The most essential CV elements are: contact information, personal profile, working experience (employment history), education and courses, skills (language skills, computer skills or other work related skills) and personal interests or hobbies. Make sure to create a format for your CV that has a clear structure that clearly divides the elements of your CV. This will make it easier for a recruiter or hiring manager to quickly scan your CV and to find the information they are looking for. On average a recruiter only spends 7 seconds scanning a CV for the first selection, make sure they can find your information quickly.
8. Highlight the keywords of your CV
You can actively point the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager to the most crucial information on your CV by highlighting the keywords of your CV. Highlight the words that match the job description and that will show them you are exactly what they are looking for and that will distinguish you from other candidates.
9. Show your achievements
When writing about your work experience, don’t just sum up all your tasks. Add relevant results to your CV; successful projects, campaigns, new customers, special awards etc. Use numbers and percentages where possible, but be careful not to use any competitive sensitive information.
10. Get rid of the irrelevant information
As a starter you are desperately searching for information to punt on your CV. You put every information you can find on your CV, every internship, every weekend job you had as a student, every extracurricular activity. As a starter in the competitive job market this is okay, it is necessary to stand out from other starters. But after, let’s say after 5 years of working experience, you have to start wondering what information is still relevant. You can start to get rid of the student jobs and some of the extracurricular activities on your CV. Your recent working experience is much more relevant. Irrelevant information on your CV will only distract the attention from the relevant information. Only when there’s a direct link to the job application and the student job (same company for example, or perhaps it is your only link with the industry you are applying to) you need to keep it on your CV.
11. Don’t be modest, but keep it real
When you are applying for a new job, it is not the right time to be modest. You should draw explicit attention to your skills, your experience and your best achievements. It is tempting to blow up the information on your CV just to fit the job description better. But be careful not to exaggerate too much or even lie about your experience and skill levels. A background check or good questioning during your interview will expose your lies and put you in an awkward position.
12. Get your cv noticed
A better way to stand out from other candidates is to work on the appearance of your CV. You can give your CV a professional look by just adding some small graphic design elements. You can use a CV template, like the ones in our shop. But even small adjustments like adding some colour or adding a bigger title to your CV, can make your CV stand out from the basic CV.
13. Don’t go overboard
It is tempting to go overboard when you are trying to get noticed. Be careful not to make your job application too quirky. A subtle joke will surely get you noticed, but not always in a good way. There is always the danger that you will lose your professional appearance, keep your job application professional. Recruiters take their job very serious and they expect you to do the same.
14. Let a friend proofread your CV before your send it out
The most common mistakes on CV’s are still typos and lost words in your text. Make sure to ask someone close to you to proofread your CV before you send it out. You have spent a lot of time writing and fine tuning your CV, after all those hours of working hard on your CV, it is easy to overlook some of those small mistakes. Two pair of eyes see more than one!
15. Double check the (e-mail) address, and your own contact information
This last tip may seems as knocking an open door, but believe me that this one goes wrong more often than you might think. Check, check, double check all the contact details. Not just the address you are sending you job application to, but also you own contact details. You want to make absolutely sure that they can always reach you by e-mail or/and by phone.