Job Application: How to Write a CV That Stands Out to Employers

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Write to the job description

As a result, many of those whose CV is simply a basic year-by-year summary of job roles performed, may well be told by a recruitment consultant, that this is in fact far too basic a summary of a detailed career.

While it’s true that your recruitment consultant can help you remedy this, for instance via an extensive initial discussion, with additional detail provided by a customised cover letter. But still, the lesson is clear: take your CV more seriously.

These days the best idea seems to be to think of each high-priority job description as providing you with a set of must-haves that you should attempt to tick off through your CV. And as such, you should therefore try and break your previous roles into key projects and tasks, summarising the most relevant and positive ones.

Questions provide answers

Assuming you’ve landed an interview, now what? Carefully read through your CV and the job description again, and consider what jumps out the most. When you present it in person, you can amplify the CV’s plus-points, and speak to any relative weaknesses you anticipate.

Prepare for any major ones in advance: where a specific skill might be missing, consider showing evidence of how you’ve picked up new skills in the past. Or if it’s an area you don’t fully understand, read up on the subject now.

When you present it in person, you can amplify the CV’s plus-points, and speak to any relative weaknesses you anticipate. Prepare for any major issues in advance: where might a specific skill be missing?

Now that I’m in a position to conduct interviews myself, one thing that says a lot to me about candidates is the questions they ask me. Think about what you might like to know on the back of the interview: not only to try to get the job but also to work out whether you really want it.

Find out why the role is open. And ask questions that talk to the motivations of your boss. Assuming the skills match is there, one of the most important factors will be whether the two of you have good working chemistry — given that, the other gaps are fixable.

Lastly, when you’re doing your final review of all your materials — rechecking spelling and grammar, and making sure you have plenty of evidence of points you raised (links showing finished work can be invaluable) — also try to take a long-term view.

While you’re embarking on this moment of change, think about where you’d like that change to take you. Knowing what you want in life and the actions that will get you there can be the secret to making it happen.

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How To Craft Your Career Narrative

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John’s original Executive Summary was literally a wall of text riddled with motherhood statements that don’t actually say anything. The poorly formatted paragraph also repels hiring managers at first glance.

His new Executive Summary is far more concise, and embedded with various metrics. At a glance, you can tell just how significant John’s achievements are.

Include Your Most Impressive Achievements

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ResumeWriter Tip: Customise your CV for specific job ads by adding in 2 to 5 relevant target keywords from the ad you are eyeing. This ensures your CV can be read by ATS Scanners, and lands in the recruiter’s hands!

Craft a Powerful Opening Line To Each Work Stint

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Use Power Verbs To Write Great Work Descriptions

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Stand Out From The Pack – Highlight Your Achievements


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1. Start with a fascinating resume summary.

It’s common for fresh graduates to list their career objectives at the top of their resumes. However, for jobseekers with more work experience, a well-curated professional summary will be more effective in grabbing the recruiter’s attention. Career objectives are about what you want. By contrast, a professional summary talks about what you can do for the company.

When crafting your summary, it’s helpful to think about your “why.” What drives you? Why do you do what you do? Identifying your purpose, source of inspiration, or philosophy will help you make your summary more unique and personal.

It’s also helpful to put yourself in the shoes of the reader. What traits and skills do you possess that they might be looking for? Keep the job advertisement in mind as you write. At the same time, make sure your summary is no longer than 2-3 sentences.

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2. Keep it simple and professional.

When it comes to job applications, good first impressions are critical. Using a silly email address like “ [email protected] ” may make the hiring manager think you’re not serious. If you’re a fresh graduate, now is the time to create an appropriate email address using your first and last name.

Your resume should also be visually appealing and easy to skim. After all, TIME reports that “recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing an individual resume.” Therefore, limit your resume to one page as much as possible. If you have an extensive employment history, make sure not to go beyond two pages.

Take note that while most people use “resume” and “CV” interchangeably, they’re different in terms of length and use . While a resume is usually only 1-2 pages long, a CV is a more detailed account of your education and work history. CVs are generally used in academia or research and can go well beyond 3 pages.

Whether you’re writing a resume or CV, be consistent with your formatting. Use professional fonts such as Arial or Helvetica, and make sure your font is no smaller than size 12. When using numbers, recheck decimal places or the number of zeros.

Once you’re done, proofread your resume for spelling errors. You may also want to reconsider including your photo. After all, how you appear on your social channels may have more bearing than how you look in a photograph. Thus, provide a clean and professional result when employers conduct their social media search.