Recruiters and HR professionals scan through hundreds of applications to identify the best fitting candidate. Studies and surveys have shown that HR professionals spend only 6 seconds (!) on average on each individual CV during the first selection stage. In large companies, the initial selection is often automated and occurs through Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). Your CV requires special attention to be picked out by this software. In other words: it is important to have an outstanding CV highlighting your main successes briefly, but complete. This article outlines 5 key elements for preparing your CV, and will help you increase your chances of being invited for an interview
5 key elements of your CV
1) Tailor your CV
It is essential to always adapt your CV to suit each application you make. Prepare generic templates that highlight your specific skills and experience for a particular job position. These should effectively communicate your key performance indicators (KPIs) and illustrate your unique strengths and professional experience. You can then choose from these templates to quickly create a CV that ticks all boxes of any specific job of your interest
2) Catch the reader’s attention right from the start
The top third of your first page is the visual centre of your CV. This part is the first impression you give to an HR professional, and therefore, you have to make strong impact here. Not much can be scanned in 6 seconds and this part will be looked at for sure. Include as a header your name, contact information, and a professional photo of yourself. Your CV should start with a summary of your major accomplishments and successes that are relevant and add substantial value for the position, team, and company you apply for.
3) Don’t bury the lead
Always mention the most important information at the start, for example in bullet points in your CV, or when you list your major accomplishments at the beginning of your CV. This principle ensures that your main message reaches the reader. This can be achieved by stating the result first and only afterwards providing additional information that strengthens the respective skill, experience, or success
4) Use the right keywords
Using the right keywords is essential to pass the initial stage when recruiters are picking highly potential applicants. When tailoring your CV to a specific role, you should align the keywords specific for that role. This is especially critical when applying to large corporations that are likely to use automated software systems (i.e. ATS) to select applicants. Software systems will scan your CV only looking for keywords that match the job posting. Don’t be afraid to use the wording of the job advertisement.
5) Clear and Appealing Structure
Your goal is to increase readability of your CV. As said before, an HR professional only spends 6 sec to decide whether to continue with you or not. Your goal is to make a strong impression of your fit in only 2 pages. Make sure you use a consistent font scheme and align your bullet points. Short and wellflowing sentences ensure clarity in your communication. A focused, clear structured, and pleasant-to-read CV also illustrates your ability to communicate effectively – a skill that is highly valued in corporate culture
Summary & Conclusions
An outstanding CV is always accomplishmentfocused, leading the reader to the conclusion that your expertise, experience, and added value for the team and company. In the summary of the first part of our CV, quantify your achievements, and give the most impressive ones pride of place. Underline your skills by giving examples of successful accomplishments and strengthen these by quantified results.