On average, a hiring manager will look at a CV for six to seven seconds and take less than 30 seconds to make a decision on it. So, what could they possibly be looking for in those 30 seconds? Each hiring manager is looking for something different, scanning for key words and proven experience. While these factors are important, hiring managers are also looking for a cultural fit and searching for what makes each candidate unique. Here are some tips to make your CV stand out amidst the blur of endless resumes.
1. Use a clear and logical layout, and a sensible font
Your CV will contain a lot of information, so it’s important that this information is organised. Before the reader even has time to scan the text, the look and shape of your resume is the first thing their brain will process. Having standardised margins that aren’t too narrow (for example, one inch) is the safest choice for readability. The length of your CV is also important, with short and precise content the best for entry to mid-level professionals.
Times New Roman is the preferred font for professional documents. Details like colours and pictures really all come down to the personal preference of the reader — which is impossible to guess — and the type of job you’re applying for. Ultimately, go with what you think looks good and professional but keep in mind that usually, less is more.
Use a summary and incorporate meaningful industry keywords.
The top one-third of your resume is what the hiring manager or recruiter scans to see if they will read the rest. Besides your name, phone number, and email, the first third of your resume is where you should put a powerful summary that defines who you are, what you can bring to the table, and your career goals.
Use powerful, active verbs to describe your past experience, such as ‘designed’, ‘developed’, ‘produced’, ‘planned’ and ‘oversaw’ instead of repeating the same words.
2. Control your timeline
Your CV should be a selection of your most relevant work history, so old babysitting jobs and every place you have volunteered is taking precious space. Exclude any experience that dates further back than 10 years unless it relates to the job you are applying for. Also, leave out graduation dates to avoid having the hiring manager pass over your resume based on your age, or your years in the workforce.
3. Include a reason for leaving previous positions
Why you left a job is commonly one the first questions asked in an interview. If there are any abnormalities in your timeline, you should be upfront in your CV and include a reason for leaving a previous position. For example, if you job hopped after 6 months or 1 year in a position, which could make you look flaky, include an open and honest reason why. By being upfront, you can stop a hiring manager from forming false judgements by assuming you're not committed, and overlooking you.
4. Tailor your CV to the job you're applying for
You may have come up with the perfect CV but this doesn’t mean it’s the perfect CV for the job. It may seem easier just submitting the same CV to numerous jobs, but the hiring manager can usually tell if you didn’t make an effort to tailor your CV to the position. Read the job description and highlight the points that seem important and that you can match with your experience and skills. Once you know what the hiring manager is looking for, curate your experience based on what would excite them the most.