CV Hints and Tips
Written by Matt Gibbs, Senior Consultant - Interim Internal and Change Communications
I’ve now been a recruitment consultant at VMAGROUP for two years and to mark the occasion I thought I’d write a blog detailing my CV hints and tips to help job seekers secure their next role. No matter what the seniority or experience required, I believe there are some fundamental factors that many people overlook when job searching.
Some may seem basic, but you’ll be surprised at how many of the below even the most experienced communications professional may forget when sharing their CV with the team here at VMAGROUP.
- Personal profiles make a difference – be unique and creative
A CV should contain some form of introduction/ personal profile to give the hiring manager or recruiter an insight into who you are as a person, what your key skills are and what you’re looking for in your next role. This is your chance to sell yourself and make the reader want to read on. It’s surprising how many people disregard this important aspect of their CV, but when we receive 10, 50 and even 100 applications for every job we share, it can be something as simple as a creative and engaging personal profile which secures an initial call or face to face interview.
- You don’t have to stick to two pages
There seems to be a myth that a CV should never exceed two pages. This is of course hugely subjective but through my experience over the past two years there has never been an issue with a three page CV. After working with hundreds of clients across every sector you can think of from charity to professional services, not one has criticised a candidate’s CV for exceeding two pages.
However, when I receive CVs that are five, six and sometimes even 12 pages, I do advise to edit down as it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep the hiring manager’s attention for that long.
- Quantifiable achievements/ ROI sets people apart
We advise that each of your most recent roles on your CV should be broken down to ‘responsibilities’ and ‘achievements’. Within the achievements section it’s important to include quantifiable evidence of what you personally did in that role to generate success. Any percentages or statistics where possible always go down well. As an example, an increase in engagement scores is a good one here!
- Tailor your CV for each role you go for
If you don’t tailor your CV for each role you go for you may end up missing out key pieces of experience which could secure you an interview. Take the time to focus on the job responsibilities and match up your most relevant experience to catch the hiring manager’s attention.
- Interests can be interesting
Again, this is rather subjective, but through my experience I’d advise to include your interests at the end of your CV to add a little more personality to your application. This can not only be an ice breaker at interview but can lead to finding common ground/ mutual interests with a hiring manager. One example we recently had was a candidate’s interests section including their passion for horse riding; this just so happened to be the interviewer’s favourite hobby which led to a 10 minute conversation, building rapport before going into detail about the role and their experience.
- Include recent courses/ personal development
Our latest survey of over 650 internal communications professionals shows that less than 50% have been on a training course in the last 12 months. If you’re doing extra-curricular work and attending courses to further your knowledge then I’d certainly recommend adding this onto your qualifications or interests section as it’ll set you apart from the majority that don’t.
- Don’t forget your proofreading glasses
As we work with communications professionals who are often incredibly detailed and thorough in all aspects of their writing, this isn’t as much of a problem for us as recruiters compared to other areas. However, we do come across typos and spelling mistakes which will immediately put hiring managers off. I’d advise to always ask someone else to proofread your CV before you share it just to be on the safe side. A recent example of overlooking a typo was a very experienced communications professional spelling the word ‘communications’ incorrectly on their CV resulting in an instant rejection and a slap on the wrist for me for not proofreading beforehand!
Due to the sheer volume of applications, hiring managers will reject CVs if programmes such as SharePoint are written with a lower case ‘p’ in the middle, so put on those proofreading glasses before applying for that next role!
- Aesthetics can make the difference
Finally, similar to the previous point, attention to detail is key. CVs should be easy on the eye to make the reader want to read on; it shouldn’t be a challenging to find information. We’ve seen examples of CVs containing multiple font types, irregular spacing, dates missing or out of place and uncoordinated font sizes throughout. This may seem minor but it shows an unstructured approach which could make the hiring manager think it’s the CV of an unorganised candidate.
I hope you find these tips useful and can put them into practice when you next edit your CV and apply for that dream job!