Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

6 Vital CV Tweaks to Help You Land an Interview

By Anthony Hughes | Dec 11, 2014 | Candidate Tips

If you’ve sent out hundreds of CVs, applied to endless job boards and strapped your resume to carrier pigeons, all without a response, it’s time to get real. There could well be something wrong with your CV, a simple problem that’s sending you straight to the ‘No’ pile.

Of course you can employ the services of a ‘professional’ CV preparation service, which often just farms out the work to would-be writers who were unemployed themselves until desperate jobseekers decided to line their pockets.

Or you could take a good, long look at your CV yourself. Are you doing any of these 20 reasons why your CV WILL be rejected? If you can apply a critical eye and actually read, rather than skim what you’ve been sending to potential employers, you might be surprised.

Here are six CV tweaks that will reap rewards and help you get the job.

1. Run a spell-check

It never ceases to amaze how many CVs arrive riddled with spelling mistakes. While a recent US study showed that only 17% of personnel managers will automatically bin a CV with a mistake, compared to 40% just a few years ago, it’s still cutting off an awfully large section of the market carelessly and needlessly.

Just because a CV is short and punchy, too, don’t think it gives you a free pass when it comes to the grammar. Word will help you out, so run the spelling and grammar check and make the necessary changes.

You might be surprised to learn that simply syntax has kept you from the job market all along.

2. Cut the dead wood

If you have a personal profile or an objective statement at the very top of your CV, then carefully consider what you put in it. If you don’t tailor the profile to each and every job you apply for then it may not make sense and could actually form a psychological barrier to employing you.

It will either be so broad and all-encompassing that it’s wasting the reader’s time, or it could show you’re after the wrong job entirely.

If you are to use one, a short summary is far more effective. But, keep it short and to the point.

Now go through the rest of your CV. You need to do this for every job you apply for, but analyse its content for relevance to the role you’re applying for. You might think your junior school swimming certificate is a vital qualification, but it won’t help you manage an office. Cut it or change it.

It’s the same for your former employment. You’ll need to accentuate the pertinent points in your past that are relevant to the role you’re applying for now.

A shorter CV that is absolutely tailored to the specific job will yield better results than a long, waffle-ridden Magnus Opus. Don’t assume the reviewer will diligently scour your CV for the salient facts, in fact one recent study showed that they can spend as little as six seconds scanning your CV.

If it isn’t tight and to the point, you might lose out on your dream job.

3. Cut the buzzwords

There is nothing more annoying to someone who spends their life running a business than a would-be employee sounding like a management speak comedy sketch. It’s easily done.

The other problem with a CV crammed with words like ‘motivated’, ‘results-orientated’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘inspired’ is that everybody says it. There are literally web pages devoted to buzzwords you can put on your CV, and very few of them actually mean anything.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

By their very nature, buzzwords are self-defeating. If everybody is using the same words in a bid to stand out from the crowd, they become the crowd. If yours is the 100th CV the employer scans that day and it gets six seconds of attention, the same old words will pop off the page and you’ll find your efforts filed in the bin.

So stand out on your own terms, cut the buzzwords and use that paper real estate to say something worthwhile.

4. Add numbers

Numbers are seductive, they quantify your achievements. Compare and contrast the following two statements that could well be found on a job applicant’s CV.

“Responsible for finding new business and increasing profits of the sales department.”

“Achieved 35% in new business during the first fiscal year, which contributed to a £2 million increase in profit margins, followed by a 20% increase year two while drafting in 12 new staff members to create a 30-strong salesforce.”

These two statements could come from the same person, applying for the same job. But the numbers stand out, they are concrete facts and they give the statement substance. Use numbers wherever you can, it will help you cut through your own dead wood and allow you to focus on real achievement, rather than simple preening.

Numbers that relate to money, time and people will all help your cause.

5. Consistency

It’s boring, but it’s all about the details and if you can’t get those right in your job application, it will set alarm bells ringing in experienced employers.

Make sure your formatting is consistent from job to job, make sure your dates match up and adopt an in-house style for job titles, dates and more.

This includes using the same font and font sizes throughout the document. This will give the impression that you are a competent individual who has a high attention to detail and takes pride in their work.

People who are like that are highly desirable individuals and funnily enough get asked for interviews!

Inconsistencies will rankle the reader and, in an intensely competitive job market, you simple should not give them a reason to dislike you.

6. Get Constructive Feedback

There are free proof-readers out there who can help you spot a glaring error you’ve glossed over because you’ve read this one document 100 times.

If you’re nervous of showing your CV to others, that in itself should ring alarm bells. If you’re embarrassed by a certain phrase, or the carefully constructed web of lies that passes for your working life, perhaps you need to go back the drawing board.

At the end of the day if don’t feel confident showing your CV to a close friend, then you shouldn’t be sending it to a professional recruiter.

A fresh pair of eyes can often be the best thing you can do in these situations – they’ll provide a completely different perspective and might give you ideas you hadn’t previously had on how to present your CV in a better way.

- Anthony Hughes

Anthony Hughes

Anthony is a recruitment veteran of 18 years and is also one of the original founders of Coburg Banks. He now trains recruitment consultants on the best methods to utilise when sourcing and assessing applicants for their clients. 


> More blog posts by Anthony Hughes

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