It doesn’t matter how much experience you’ve had in the business world; when it comes to CV screening, the most important factor is relevance. And learning to be relevant starts long before you begin sending out the job applications. If you were a brand, your CV would be your strapline and your interview outfit would be your shop window; so every stage of the interview process needs to be refined to send out pertinent and applicable messages that make you a game-changing candidate.
With UK employment at a record high and more budget being pumped into HR departments, the employment theme for 2015 is skillset, knowledge and the right approach. Here are 3 invaluable tips to help you prep your CV for job applications this year.
1| Keep it Concise: Remove Irrelevant Experience
If your CV document runs over three pages, it’s likely that you’re trying to jam too much into it. In most cases, a CV should never be more than two pages long. But with more and more employers looking for honed skillsets and people they can take to managerial levels, the growing trend is to create a one page, punchy, easy-to-read document.
- Choose relevant experience: remove any unconnected pieces of information from your document if you don’t think it adds any value to this particular job role. If you’re going for a sales position, your one year course in HTML coding may not be very interesting to your interviewer, for example.
- Move recent experience to the top: many people make the mistake of listing things in chronological order, with school grades at the top. But the most recent and relevant information needs to go first. For instance, an occupational NVQ will be much more attractive than being the chairman of your school book club.
2| Make it Industry Relevant: Formatting and Styling
Now it’s not just the content you need to consider when writing your CV. What about the formatting and styling of your document? Should you go for a simple Times New Roman typeface or should it be all-singing all-dancing with fancy fonts and colours? The answer is that your CV needs to be industry relevant; if you are looking for an accountancy / finance position, simplicity is key but if you are applying to be a creative assistant, simplicity could be your downfall.
Not only do you have to hit the nail on the head with a curriculum vitae suitable for your industry but you also have to research the culture of the company you want to work for. If the business you are applying for promotes a fun and playful culture, a plain CV may be off-putting but if their website appears very corporate, thinking too far outside the box with your CV styling could cost you an interview.
3| Overcome Rejection: Get Constructive Feedback
If you have polished your CV to perfection and you’re still not getting invited to interviews, it’s important to ask why. To look at it positively, the more rejection you get, the bigger the data pool when it comes to finding out why employees don’t want to interview you. If your feedback tells you that other people with more experience got the job, it’s time to go out and get the relevant experience.
- Consider NVQ courses: NVQ courses are a great way of picking up those skills that have been missing from your school or higher education. Gain new vocational skills on a course that is targeted and relevant for the jobs you are applying for.
- Ask for more responsibility in your current role: one of the easiest ways of gaining relevant experience is to become hands-on and actually do it. If you need to boost your skills, talk to your current employer and ask to take on more responsibility within your role.
- Shadow someone you know: if you are trying to change roles, try work shadowing. This is a quick way to learn and gain work experience in your chosen area. The more people you shadow, the more contacts you build up too.