DOs and DON’Ts of CVs
To pass the 7-sec scan to Shortlisting!
How to ensure your CV catches the eye of hirers, particularly given that many only spend less than 10 seconds “reading” each CV before determining whether or not a candidate is suitable to proceed to the next stage.
- The first page is all important – view it as an executive summary of your full CV:
Page 1 is the most visible page of a CV, (and so most read), it provides an immediate ‘first impression’ – considerations include – does it provide a professional image, is the content constructive, informative and succinct? Is it reader-friendly and does the structure assist the reader / hirer gain maximum and pertinent information in a ‘quick grab’, eg. a table of employers / organisations, role titles and month / years of service
- Layout / format of your CV is critical – well-structured and highlighted clear headings that enable the reader to quickly identify aspects of content such as Professional Profile - Key Expertise, Capabilities and Attributes – Career Summary (table) – Qualifications & Professional Training – Career Experience (more details about recent roles) – Community Leadership & Involvement – Hobbies / Interests (not essential, of variable interest to others!)
- Font style and size are important – common selections include Arial, Calibri, Georgia, Helvetica, Tahoma, Times New Roman (considered a bit ‘old-fashioned’), Trebuchet MS and Verdana. Size will vary depending on type – generally 10.5 to 12 for Times.
- Remember a Header & Footer - with your name and contact number in the Header, on every page (to assist memory of you!) and page numbers in the Footer.
- Relevance of Content is also important. The best CVs are relevant not only to the candidate – ie. it depicts them, their skills and capabilities, achievements and career experiences succinctly but are also relevant to the potential employer and role on offer. So, they should be tailored to ‘speak’ directly to the job opportunity. So, tweaks of CVs are advised for each application submitted.
- Include achievements and ‘value-add’ skills or experience eg. additional (not essential) qualifications and training, certificates, Committee or Board involvement, awards, external professional community based responsibilities.
- Vaccination status is now commonly referenced – which, if required for the role eg. health, aged care etc or seen as desirable – may result in shortlisting over an applicant where it is not mentioned.
- With many CVs viewed electronically a little colour through headings, side bars or divisional lines, can add appeal. But be careful to not have colour or font that ‘screams’ out at people.
- Regarding page length, ‘just right’ will depend on role seniority, sector / industry, length of career and type of role. Usually, somewhere between 2 to 4 pages is safe and sufficient, but on occasions longer CVs may be apt particularly for academic positions. Often, a really well-structured summary first page is the ‘attention grabber’ and if the reader is interested, it’s turn over for more information, and that will likely be scanned for a little more ‘crunchy’ detail!
Common Mistakes include:
- Spelling mistakes, poor grammar, poor CV structure, too hard to read or find the desired information, content repetition / duplication, waffly writing and a ‘narrative’ of a person’s role or career (blah, blah, blah!).
- Also, a mismatch between the candidate and their experience and the role on offer. No logical connection with the job and organisation – a CV submitted for the sake of it, a ‘tyre kicker’ or just giving it a go without real consideration of one’s suitability!?
- If there is a closure date for applications – ensure you submit it prior. Where no date is listed try to submit your CV within the first week or two, as the recruiter / hirer may commence short listing and interviewing when they like and when they consider they have a sufficiently strong candidate base. They can also keep it ‘open’ until they do.
- Scant information that does not ‘tick enough boxes’, untruths / inaccurate / overly vague information, ‘fudging’ or leading the reader to an incorrect presumption, found to be untrue.
- Incorrect information in a cover letter or email regarding company details, recruiter / receiver name or role title. Examples of lack of attention to detail and poor proof reading are generally ‘put offs’ and ‘in the bin’ applications!