How to Optimise your CV to Make an Instant Impact

This week Leap29’s Principal Consultant, Rob Day discusses how to optimize your CV to make an instant impact.

In today’s job hunting marketing it is best to ensure you have two CVs; one optimized for job boards, and one for applying directly for jobs.

As I’m sure you know, your CV should be tailored for every job you apply for; this the first step in making sure you make an instant impact.

So what does your CV need to make an instant impact? It is an unfortunate fact that recruiters and hiring managers do get inundated with applications, and unfortunately many of them aren’t relevant. According to research, us recruiters spend a tiny 6 seconds reviewing your CV for suitability. Whilst I’m not sure how true this is, it is true that most CVs are skimmed through as we pick out pieces of information that will immediately qualify you for further consideration.

To ensure that your CV passes the six second test, it needs to contain enough detail to do your experience justice whilst being formatted in such a way that the reader can assess your suitability quickly.

Below are some tips on how you can make sure the first read of your CV makes an impact.

The First Read
In the majority of cases, the information I am looking for when a new CV passes my desk is;

  • Job Title
  • Companies you have worked for
  • Educational background
  • Key skills

You can make it as easy as possible for the reader to pick out this information by doing the following:

  1. Consistent formatting
    Make sure your CV lines up throughout. If the reader needs to look in different places for information every time you have changed job (for example), things get missed.

    Also, if you have a heavily formatted CV it is wise to PDF it before sending to ensure the formatting is not altered by different document viewers.
  2. Put the good stuff at the top
    Write a short opening summary. State your highest qualification and then start your career history on the first page. Soft skills and long lists of certificates/training courses should back up this information further down your CV.
  3. Stand out
    Make the important bits stand out. Don’t be scared of using bold, underlined and different coloured fonts to make key information such as job title and company stand out. Just don’t go overboard.
  4. Bullet points
    These are much easier to read than large blocks of text. Use them to your advantage and highlight the key skills or standout information relevant to the job you are applying for. Like with all formatting, just don’t go over the top with them.
  5. Order
    Order your career and educational history in reverse chronological order to ensure your most recent experience first.
  6. Job Titles
    This seems obvious, but make it obvious from your job title what your job is/was. If your company has decided to call you something obscure, it can make the reader question if you are under or overqualified. Go with the industry standard for ease of explanation.

With every CV you write, get someone else to proof read it. As well as checking your spelling and grammar, ask them to be honest with what bits of information they could easily pick up and adjust your CV where necessary.

You can follow Rob on LinkedIn for more hints and tips on your CV. Alternatively, If you would like more assistance with your job hunt contact the Leap29 team today.