Why you need two versions of your CV to succeed in your job search!
My best advice for anyone uploading CVs online in response to a company’s job advert is use a simple formatting.
If you’re sending your CV to a person directly, for example, to the hiring manager or recruiter or employer, then format and make the CV visually appealing with either graphics or tables and optimise it for FIRST IMPRESSION.
Therefore, you must have two versions of CVs – a visually appealing modern one for when you’re sending to humans and a plain standard one for the ATS when uploading for job adverts (always as an MS Word format, thank you!).
Upload the appealing CV on job boards, however, when you’re responding to a specific advert, upload the plain standard version.
I love visually appealing CVs, and I specialise in writing them. I have almost 30 samples. And they’re astonishingly beautiful indeed.
However, this type of formatting would confuse ATS (applicant tracking system).
And many contents surrounding or within the formatting won’t get picked up by the tracker.
So, that creates the biggest problems for you… you won’t be passed on to the “picked for next round” pile of CVs for the human to read (i.e. to be read by the hiring manager or recruiter) even when you have all the experience, qualifications and skills!
So, follow my recommendations above.
With this in mind, let’s switch to the secrets for a job-landing CV.
Without A CV With A Wowing Factor, You Won’t Get Even One Interview in A Year.
So, can I ask you: is your CV wowing enough to compel recruiters, hiring managers or employers to speedily invite you for interviews?
Read on, let’s guide you today because 90% of job applicants fail to impress recruiters, hiring managers or employers with their CVs or résumés.
Meanwhile, CVs will continue to play an essential part in job recruitment for most people.
Whether applicants use job boards to apply for jobs or get referrals, employers will still want to see the candidates’ CVs.
If you have an excellently written CV, you’ll have a chance for an interview!
So, here’s how we can help you with such a CV today!
People have different opinions regarding what should be included or excluded from CVs.
However, when writing an excellent CV, candidates should know that adding the wrong things or too many things will stop them from getting the job interview they want.
I started recruiting in the .Net developers IT sector 26 months ago, and I have reviewed over 2,800 CVs so far, so I can tell you that recruiters quickly check for the following:
- Are you living locally (or did you indicate that you are willing to relocate)?
- Does the CV have the WOW factor?
- Do you have the relevant experience required?
- Are there gaps in your employment? If so, were they explained or not?
- How does the CV look (i.e., layout or formatting, visual appeal, etc.)?
I’m sharing here what I’ve learned are the essential elements of an excellent CV.
Note them and apply them. You’ll increase your chances of landing a job interview.
We can rewrite a professional CV for you if you want.
- When you move from one role to a similar or related role, you have a higher chance of being selected for an interview than if you are applying for a completely unrelated position. As much as it’s possible, focus on the same or similar roles and move only for higher perks, not different professions where you have limited or no advantages.
- Your CV should be no more than two pages (except if you’re a top executive with many years of work experience and are applying for an executive position).
- Use a top-to-bottom layout as opposed to left-to-right for your CV with lots of white space in the left column.
- Your top segment of the CV—that is, the visual centre—must carry your WOW factor, not an “objective statement.”
- My favourite and most successful fonts are Georgia, Merriweather, Constantia, and Gill Sans. Avenir, Helvetica, Arial, and Geneva are other good choices. See Others Here.
The WOW factor is the value you will bring to the company. For example,
- A significant, high-level achievement
- A successful project was done before
- How you generated money for a company
- How you saved money
- How you implemented a process efficiently to save time
[N/B: recruiters read CVs for only 10 to 17 seconds. That’s all you get. Let them see that WOW factor first!].
Here are some examples of how the WOW factor fits in. Learn from them to craft your CV WOW factor.
Use the opening or profile statements to highlight your WOW factor:
- The goal of the opening profile (statement) is to address the priorities of the role. For example, in my careers and employability field, if the keywords of the job description show that the employer wants a candidate to work with international students, highlight your experience in that area. If it’s working with postgraduates, highlight your works with postgraduates.
- Keep it short, punchy, tailored, and packed with keywords. It should be nine lines max.
- Highlight your professional qualifications with examples. For example, if the job is working with STEM students, emphasise your experience working with STEM students.
Read below to see how one candidate captured the concept described in the three bullet points above most beautifully:
“CDI-qualified careers professional with experience supporting different candidates, such as postgraduates and international students, achieve positive graduate destinations. Over four years’ experience in postgraduate student recruitment, employer liaison work, and career counselling and guidance. Proven skills in building relationships with employers and bringing innovative employability solutions, as shown in successful set-up and founding of the permanent role of postgraduate employer liaison officer at the University South Africa. Currently seeking a fixed-term guidance role.”
Any of the statements below can work for your WOW factor as well:
- Why are you suitable for the job?
- I have four years’ experience as a marketing manager in the marketing, advertising, and PR Industry. I have secured contracts and achieved an average of 180% of the sales target for the last three years.
- Past successes
- I have successfully secured 13 contracts valued at nearly £70 million in both the UK and Europe and generated … in the past three years
- WOW factor
- I have built and maintained strong business relationships with my former employers and current employer, which is relocating to France and has permitted me to continue working with these clients.
- Another example of a WOW factor
- Regrettably, my current employer is moving back to Canada and concentrating on its home market. The company many contracts worth £750,000 in net profit that will fall by the wayside. However, as a reward for securing these contracts, coupled with my strong relationship with the clients, the company has agreed in writing for me to continue servicing these contracts with my next employer.
An employer seeing this developed network will know you’re going to make her money!
Therefore, always aim to bring up your WOW factor on your CV and place it at the beginning so that it will be seen quickly.
The WOW factor answers the question, “What can you offer the organisation that is significant?”
Start building your WOW factor way before you write the CV.
Look for your WOW factor today if you want to land interviews tomorrow!
CV Format and Layout
A CV’s visual centre begins two inches from the top of the CV and stops two inches below that.
Recruiters and employers always have piles of applications to get through.
Thus, they often scan CVs to initially separate the boys (time wasters) from the men (potential hires).
If they look at your CV for 20 seconds, you’re among the lucky few!
When recruiters scan CVs, they usually concentrate on the top 30% of the first page of the document.
Therefore, experts advise that you begin your CV with a punchy personal profile (with your WOW factor, which could be financial gains or savings you’ve realised, time you’ve saved, or targets you’ve hit for your organisation) and a key skills section, which includes your most valuable (and relevant) attributes.
This approach is the key to passing the early scan.
You must tailor your CV to every role you apply for.
List the essential and desired skills, experience, and attributes from the job description and then try to work each one of those keywords into your CV.
By doing so, you’ll portray yourself as a uniquely qualified candidate for the position.
PERSONAL DETAILS SECTION
- Phone number
- Home address (Don’t forget to add “Willing to Relocate” to show employers you don’t mind relocating). Nowadays, you may not need to put your specific house number. Just the city and state are enough.
- Email address (use a professional email, not something like email@example.com. Try to use firstname.lastname@example.org or something similar.
- LinkedIn address (for example, https://www.linkedin.com/in/itajohn-employability-uk/)
Use these bullet points to showcase three or four outstanding achievements.
When employers read them, they’ll see that these past accomplishments strongly qualify you for the available role.
Writing it as prose is okay as well.
Here are some examples:
- Rather than writing “Expanded operations to global markets,” write “Expanded operations to 12 new countries in Europe.”
- Rather than writing “Led the engineering team,” write “Supervised the engineering team and accomplished 18% yearly growth vs. 0.7% budget.”
Showing Achievements on Your CV
Here are 17 core areas to shout your achievements on the CV.
You can boast about your accomplishments on your CV if you
- Achieved something, met a goal, or won an award
- Brought in partners, funding, or resources
- Changed or improved something
- Designed, planned, or organised something big
- Eliminated issues or reduced problems
- Envisioned and brought a project to life
- Increased efficiency, sales, revenue, or customer satisfaction
- Increased something (efficiency or a specific KPIs)
- Managed a team
- Oversaw, regulated, or enforced protocols or managed your department’s requests
- Saved the company time or money
- Spearheaded a project or initiative
- Supported customers
- Updated, changed, or restructured something
- Were a research machine
- Wrote or communicated
- Led a project or oversaw a project or initiative from start to finish
Outstanding CVs must incorporate achievements instead of merely stating responsibilities. But how?
For example, rather than writing “Led the engineering team,” say “Supervised the engineering team and accomplished 18% yearly growth vs. 0.7% budget.”
What specific areas can you highlight? That’s where power words come in!
Power Words or Action Verbs
Use any of these over 200 power verbs to drive home your bullet points more precisely:
Make every bullet point highlight your current or previous work experience indicating the following three elements:
- Transferable skill
- Technical knowledge
- Quantifiable result
I explained these three in my last article showing over 70 TRANSFERABLE SKILLS worth your shouting about:.
Make sure to include these points as well:
- Explain any existing date gaps—a one-line sentence is okay (e.g., “Took seven months off to complete a CFA III professional exam,”. “Took 18 months off to have a baby”)
- Show months and years of work experience (e.g., Jan 2015 – Jun 2017)
- Show you highest degree fist and leave out secondary and primary school
- Leave lots of white space—it relaxes the readers’ eyes
To preserve your formatting, save and submit your CV as a PDF.
This will ensure that your formatting stays the same no matter how your application is submitted.
If you’re uploading your CV to an applicant tracking system (ATS), use a Microsoft Word file to allow the machine to read your CV with no hassles.
You should also tailor your resume for each job application.
You do not need to include every experience you’ve ever had, especially if it doesn’t pertain directly to the role you are applying for.
If you are applying to companies based entirely in one industry, keep your resume largely the same.
However, if you are applying for jobs that span multiple industries, adjust your resume accordingly.
See related cv writing articles here. What do you think?
If you need any support to write an interview-winning CV, we have a tailored CV writing service for you.
Read some testimonials below:
An Addendum: The ATS-Compliant CV
It’s now advisable that you have a version of your CV that can pass the ATS test that recruiters use in weeding out poor CVs that don’t meet their criteria.
Kirsty Bonner lists the following as ATS don’ts and illustrates with a sample CV:
- Dates older than 12 years if you are 38 years or older
- Font size smaller than 11 points
- Horizontal lines
- Hyperlinks (including links to email and LinkedIn)
- Mixed fonts
- Multiple colours
- Profile pictures
- Text boxes
- Vertical lines (except tiny dividers)
- ® (Prince2, Agile etc.)
Standard bullet points (the black dot) are fine. Generally, ATS likes boringly simple CVs.
Remember to pack your CV with relevant keywords from the entire job description for each job you apply for via online portals.
ATS-compliant CVs are only needed when you’re uploading it via a portal, be it a job board or the company’s website.
When you’re sending your CV to a real person, usually via email, don’t bother with these restrictions.