Careers Advice, Recruitment tips

Stand Out from the Crowd – 5 Top Tips for CV Writing

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​I hear all the time from candidates that the most frustrating aspects of looking for a new role are the lack of detailed responses to their applications and the sheer number of applications they have to make in order to get to an interview stage. 

Meanwhile employers and recruiters are having to review higher numbers of CVs more quickly to short list; in the months since the Coronavirus pandemic hit and lockdown started, we’ve seen applications for our open roles increase exponentially.   

There has been a serious shortage of suitable candidates in engineering, manufacturing and technology skillsets over recent years so you would think we would be happy about this, but it is concerning just how many highly skilled people are finding themselves having to look for something new.  We want to ensure that during the current pandemic, we do not lose these valuable skills and experience from the sectors as happened back in 2009. 


One size does not fit all

When you are registering with an employment agency, it is fine to have a general CV to share with them but if you are applying for a specific role, your CV is your “representative” and unless it answers the requirements of the job advertised, you may not get the opportunity to sell yourself at an interview.

It doesn’t have to take forever to do this effectively.  Use the advert to identify the key skills or requirements the recruiter is looking for and prioritise them in your CV, listing them close to the top or in your summary.   Make sure you have updated your LinkedIn profile too so that it reflects the skills you are listing on your application.

Presentation matters

If your CV is too busy or wordy, it can be hard for the recruiter to quickly pick out the skills and experience they are looking for. With increased applications, most recruiters are skim-reading CVs at the first stage of sifting.   

  • Rather than writing long paragraphs about previous jobs, put key information in bullet points.

  • Leave some white space, even if this means your CV extends to an extra page. 

  • Be concise, pick out key responsibilities and achievements for each role you’ve held.

  • List core skills that you bring and also key tools and knowledge that reflect the role requirement.

  • Spelling errors show a lack of care and attention to detail. It’s important to check and double check before pressing send.

  • Don’t repeat yourself

Show flexibility

One of the most important attributes that has been brought to the fore due to the pandemic is ability to deal with rapid change. Whether this is managing change, innovating to overcome problems of remote working or just maintaining the right mindset in a changing work environment.

With smaller workforces, employers are looking for people who are adaptable, willing to get stuck in and work flexibly to meet the business needs and who bring a problem-solving, positive and proactive attitude and approach. 

It is worth highlighting these soft skills, if you have them of course, and thinking of how they can be demonstrated on a CV; through a project at a previous employer or perhaps as new training or skills that have been acquired during lockdown. 

Don’t paper over the cracks

If you’ve had a period where you have not been working (a gap in your CV), don’t gloss over it.  There can be many reasons for taking a break but if there is no explanation, potential employers may wonder why.  

It’s important to demonstrate that you have kept yourself positive during any down time.  Highlight any study, training or travelling done during these times; maybe even volunteer work or personal projects that demonstrate you’ve been productive.  

A word of caution; don’t invent things. You may well be caught out later in the process.  It is important that your CV is an honest representation of you and your experience.

Get your personality across

It’s easier said than done sometimes to get your energy and personality to shine in a written resume, but it can be the difference in getting to the next stage.  Avoid clichés where possible and make sure your personal summary really reflects you, your interests and how these contribute to making you a rounded and employable individual.

There is a balance to be struck though, don’t be too wacky or off-the-wall, remember it is still a professional document.  It is possible to be professional without being boring.

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