Keywords/buzzwords and phrases
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘The cream rises to the top’. Well, in the case of recruitment and CV searches, it’s especially true. The cream of CVs are rich in relevant and appropriate keywords that are detected by sophisticated software and recruitment databases when recruiters conduct Boolean and other types of keyword searches. Let’s say I was looking for a ‘Finance Manager’ with ‘ACCA; logic dictates that I’d need one or both of those keywords in my search string in order to find suitable job-seekers. On the other hand, if the relevant keywords are not on the CV, then they will not appear in a search. Some recruitment search software has complex algorithms (to ‘enhance’ the search) and ranks CVs according to ‘relevance’, depending on how often search-relevant keywords appear (amongst other criteria). Nine out of ten times, a recruiter will use technical-skill keywords to conduct their search, so, with a little thought, it’s quite easy for you to pre-empt what their search strings might contain. Simply analyse job descriptions, person specifications and job adverts to pick out and select keywords that apply to you and include them in the body of your CV.
Analysing the details of job descriptions and picking out the keywords and buzzwords can help you decide whether or not to apply, because the recruiter is essentially ‘asking for’ particular skills and personal traits that are closely related to the culture and expertise of the organisation they’re recruiting for. So just be honest with yourself, and only apply for jobs within organisations that suit you. If you lack prerequisites, then you could consider training to fill your skill gaps.
The first third: your trump card
The first third is an area of your CV that cannot be underestimated in terms of its importance and the potential impact it could have on your application. The quality of content within the first third can make the difference between getting and not getting an interview, and indeed can determine whether or not your CV will be found by those sourcing job-seekers. But what exactly do I mean by the first third? Well, it’s the first third of the first page of the CV and is a prime area of your CV, because it is the first thing that the reader will see when they open the document. You’re probably aware that recruiters and employers make very quick decisions. Sometimes, they are able to decide within 15 to 20 seconds of seeing a CV whether or not the candidate is right for the job.
The first third of the CV contains the profile and either your most recent job and/or educational qualification – if you’ve opted to do a chronological CV – or your skills and achievements from selected jobs, if you decided that a skills-based format is more suitable. When writing content within your CV, particularly within the first third, ask yourself one simple question: have I demonstrated that I’m a good fit for this job by presenting relevant skills, attributes and achievements? If the answer is yes, then you’ll certainly be going in the right direction. Have a look at these examples and remember to look at for email course because I’ll be send you a CV template example that multiplied the rate and frequency of interviews for a recent client.
FIRST THIRD EXAMPLES: CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
I’d strongly recommend taking time on, and putting a bit of effort and thought into, writing a targeted profile, because it really sets the tone for what’s to come and inspires and motivates the reader to want to find out more about you, and hopefully to invite you for an interview.
I remember my first job as a recruitment consultant and just how quickly I had to make decisions on CVs. Not only was it reassuring to read a CV that was a good match to a particular job, it also made my job – which was busy at the best of times – much easier, because I could make sharper decisions. I was sometimes able to read the first third of somebody’s CV and decide instantaneously whether or not I wanted to contact them. If the information within the first third of the CV was interesting, relevant and appealing, I would often pick up the phone to contact the job-seeker immediately, without even having read the CV in its entirety. On the other hand, reading the first third of the CV made it possible to reject somebody just as quickly because they’d missed out a critical piece of information that was relevant to the job. The word relevant is key here, because everything that you write within the first third of the CV should be relevant to the application.
What’s the best CV style and format?
If you search the internet, there are literally hundreds of websites where you can download CV templates of all shapes and styles. I personally think that the plethora of CV templates means that it can be confusing for you to a) find one that suits your needs and b) understand which template would be the most effective. The style of CV you choose is an important consideration, because it helps to demonstrate the extent of your skills and career experience and can essentially help you to highlight the right information for the job you’re applying for.
Thankfully there are really only three types of CV that you need to consider: the traditional chronological CV, and the skills/achievements-based CV. You might find variations on, or different styles of, these formats (and in some cases a combination of the skills-based and chronological CV); or a new graduate’s chronological CV might list the Education section ahead of the Career History, whereas a more experienced professional, with, say, a five- or six-year work history, might prioritise their work ahead of their education. But, generally speaking, you only have three types of CV to consider. But how do you decide which is best for me? Well, choosing an appropriate format is a personal decision and depends on a combination of factors, such as the stage of your career and the skills and achievements you want to sell to the employer.
If you have a professional track record and your most recent job is directly relevant to the job that you are applying for, then the traditional format might be appropriate. On the other hand, if you have had a long career and/or want to choose skills and achievements from jobs other than your most recent role, then you could use a skills-based CV to cherry-pick the most relevant skills for that particular application. You’d then put them in a skills section within the first third of your CV so that you literally hit the reader with relevant information within seconds of them reading your CV.
Skills-based CVs are particularly useful when your most recent job is not directly relevant to the job you are applying for, because it allows you to prioritise information within the first third. Whichever format you choose, try to remember that job applications should be done on a case-by-case basis, so analyse each job description and job advert so that you fully understand what the employer wants, and choose a format that prioritises their needs and showcases your attributes.