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Making the right first impression: Top tips for producing a strong CV

Written by Dave Cullen

One of the most common and fundamental mistakes candidates continue to make is not ensuring they have produced a strong CV. For a recruiter, it is naturally a frustration to receive a poorly constructed and error-ridden CV from an otherwise qualified and suitable candidate. Your CV is one of the most important documents in your procession. It outlines your professional experience and should be structured in such as a way so as to showcase your talents, achievements and skills.

With so many CVs received every day, a recruiter spends an average of only about 20 seconds reading each one. This means that it is vitally important you keep it concise but also eye catching. CVs that contain spelling mistakes, sloppy editing, inappropriate fonts and extraneous details will quickly be ignored.

The following is a list of some top tips to help ensure that you have a CV that will stand out from all other applicants and give you the best possible chance of being considered for an interview.

• Customise your CV to each job you are applying for, this makes it clear to the recruiter / hiring manager that you are interested in working for them specifically.

• Your past experience should be written not as a list of duties and responsibilities but as achievements. Responsibility-based CVs fail to demonstrate how you went above and beyond the requirements of your role. They also don’t give employers any insight into what sets you apart from everyone else and what you bring to a company.

• Avoid writing whole sentences like: “I coordinated and managed all of the day-to-day operations of the east coast sales department”. This statement should read: “Coordinated and managed day-to-day operations of east coast sales department”. Not only is this sentence punchier, it also helps to reduce your CV’s word count.

• Try not to cram your entire CV onto one page. Many candidates attempt to find elaborate ways of condensing their professional experience onto one single A4 page. For example they might try reducing the font size. Such techniques are counterproductive and will only make your CV a challenge to read.

• With high volumes of applications being received every day, recruiters have begun using automated keyword search algorithms to filter through CVs. Make sure that your CV is Search engine optimised by including keywords related to the job opportunity you are applying for. Such keywords can be found in the job ad description.

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