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Simple CV Writing Tips to Get Your Resume Read

Recruiters Flip through your CV in 7 Seconds

Recruitment managers can receive hundreds of CVs for every advertised post and discard most of the applications. CV writing can be a challenge. However, there those common mistakes that job seekers make that get them rejected. When drafting your CV, remember recruiters have hundreds of CVs to read through and they spend as little time as possible on each.

Keep in mind that your CV is what will secure you an interview and if recruiters are not reading it, you will not move to the next step. This is your first impression, make it count.

Here Are Some of The Things That Recruiters Look At

  • Format

If your CV format is complicated and needs translating or explaining, you will keep waiting for that interview call. Your CV format should be simple, easy on the eye and avoid of clutter and unnecessary information.

  • Sections

When a potential employer looks at your CV, their eyes rush over your name, email address, qualifications, and previous work experience. Ensure that these sections are on the first page of your CV. In the work experience section, it is wise to quote the period of time you were with a certain company. Also in work experience, do not list your job description, rather list your achievements in that role and how you helped your department attain its goals.

  • Role Titles

The potential employer will go over your previous job roles looking to see your relevance to the current position they are looking to fill and your career growth over the years. Ensure that you state your previous titles clearly.

  • Turn-over

Your potential employer will be highly interested in knowing how long you lasted with your previous employers. It is wise to separate the permanent jobs from the part-time ones to avoid the illusion of job-hopping tendencies.

  • Little Obvious Things

Issues like typos, bad grammar, poor formatting and wordy sentences are a turnoff to anyone reading your CV.

Why Recruiters Bin CVs

Below are the main reasons, given by hiring managers, on why your ‘perfect’ CV is not helping you secure the all important interview.

  • Your CV Contains Irrelevant Information

CV information

Remember, a Human Resources Manager quickly skims through your CV in 7 seconds. This means that you have a very small window to capture and retain their attention. Avoid including unnecessary information such as marital status, religion or age in your CV as these tire the recruitment manager before they move to the most important parts. Irrelevant information also lengthens your CV and this might make the recruitment manager avoid reading it.

Keep it brief

How To Correct This:

Optimise your CV by staying relevant. Leave out unnecessary personal information unless such information has expressly been requested. Read through the required skills and competencies for the job and only point out what is relevant to the job. Your CV should also not be a dumping ground for everything you have ever done. Above all, keep it short and precise.

  • Lack of Keywords

Technology has literally revolutionised our lives. Hiring managers are, thus, using computer programs to skim through your CV and pick out the best candidates based on certain standards. If your CV lacks certain keywords, the hiring software automatically eliminates your CV from the recruitment process even if you have all the necessary qualifications; and this means that your CV will not be read.

How to correct this:

Keywords help the hiring manager to closely fit a candidate to the advertised position. Read through the skills, competencies and main duties and responsibilities and map your skills with keywords you feel are the most relevant. This will help the hiring software to quickly pick up keywords in your CV for short listing. If your title or key responsibilities do not use the exact words as those used in the advertisement, then tweak them a little bit so that they are as close as possible to the terms used to get your CV to be read.

  • You Do Not Highlight Your Accomplishments

Proper structure

When conducting a recruitment drive, the human resource manager is looking for a result-oriented person. Too many job seekers only highlight their responsibilities and fail to point out what they have accomplished. For example, if you are in customer service, you can say “During my tenure at company X, the customer engagement improved by 50% due to timely and personalised responses.” This will show your actual value and you can get an interview to further discuss your strategy.

How To Correct This:

Your accomplishments should be your main selling points. State what you accomplished in your position without going into details. You may, for example, say, “Improved customer satisfaction by promptly responding to queries via email.” This shows that a particular action on your end improved the company’s operations. A failure to state accomplishments often leads to CV binning as the hiring manager is not sure of what you can bring on board.

  • Poor CV Structure

This can never be over emphasised. Although there is no standard formatting, there are certain guidelines on how to write a good resume as pointed out in our in-depth guide here. If your CV lacks a chronological flow of dates and experience, the employer rejects it as they do not have the time to figure out your experience.

How To Correct This:

Ensure that there is a chronological flow of ideas and information on your CV that correlate with your cover letter. This ensures that the recruitment manager can follow your skills and experience with ease and make a decision based on the available position.

  • You Do Not Qualify for The Advertised Position

Finding a job has become hard in the current economic climate and as such, most job seekers apply for open positions even if they just meet the basic qualifications for the job. This is one of the main reasons why your CV will not be read, as recruitment managers will consider you incapable of handling the job. It can lead to frustrations as you constantly feel rejected despite having some skills that you find applicable to the job.

How To Correct This:

Ensure that your skills and experiences fit the job’s requirements as closely as possible. Narrow your job search to only those jobs that match your qualifications closely to avoid rejection.

  • Failure to Customise Your CV

Every job advertisement is unique as different companies look for different skills and experiences. However, most job seekers have a standard CV that they submit for every job advertisement.

A HR manager quickly skims through each CV and if your CV does not immediately sell you as a good candidate for the job, chances are very high that it will not be read thoroughly.

How To Correct This:

Once you read through a job advertisement, go through your CV and remove any information that is not relevant to the job. Tailor your CV to suit each job application so as to improve its chances of being read. This also shows focus and attention to details.

  • Lack of Contact Information

Believe it or not, some candidates submit their CVs with no contact details. It often baffles employers how a well-written CV can lack such vital information as there is no way of reaching out to the candidate. CV writing is a critical undertaking that requires close attention. Candidates who provide unprofessional email addresses also leave a hugely negative impression. No one is looking to hire the next candy_princess@gmail.com.

How To Correct This:

Pay close attention to contact information, apart from ensuring that your CV is bespoke. Ensure that your contact information is accurate and correct. Provide a logical email address and a phone number that you can be reached on anytime. Ensure that your email address is professional. A fancy email just does not show seriousness.

  • Spelling and Grammatical Mistakes

Surely, sending a CV with grammatical, spelling and formatting errors will definitely reduce its chances of being read. One crucial skill that employers look for is attention to details. Mistakes communicate carelessness and laziness. You do not want to be qualified for a job and lose out due to avoidable mistakes. Recruiters hate carelessness so do not give them an excuse to bin your CV effortlessly.

How To Correct This:

Mistakes are the surest way to ensure that your CV is not read. Avoid falling victim to this error by carefully going through your CV before submitting it. This will give you a chance to weed out any grammatical, spelling or formatting mistakes you may have made. You can also enlist the help of professional CV writers to review and rewrite your CV for you. This is your chance to dazzle so do not take any chances with it.

For more information on CV do’s and don’ts, watch the video below and share your thoughts in the comments. 

https://www.facebook.com/BrighterMondayKenya/videos/1822918371135195/

How to write a Professional CV 101

  • Personal Information
write a professional CV

This section contains your official names, email address and phone number. Make sure the number provided is active and belongs to you. A recruiter will want to communicate to someone who is available when reached out to. Your age, areas of residence and marital status are not necessary when writing a professional CV. Keep it clean.

Pro Tip: Never use an email that does not sound professional. A sexyprincess96@yahoo.com is not something that should appear on your CV. Create a new Gmail account if you have to.

  • Career Summary
write a professional CV

Give a brief summary of your professional history. This should include an introduction of your key skills and qualifications, as well as specific keywords that are relevant in your work industry. Avoid generic descriptions like ‘goal-oriented’ or ‘hardworking individual’. An example would be this:

Strategic and highly efficient Accounting Professional with an academic background in finance and accounts management. I have over 6 years of extensive expertise in financial analysis, budget control, business accounting, risk assessment as well as staff capacity building. I can define strategic goals, build relationships and provide high-level solutions gained from my working experience as shown.

  • Work History

List your most recent role first, stating your duties and responsibilities. Focus on the most important roles that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Not all duties should be listed in the CV. Do not forget to include achievements, especially for the most recent roles that showcase your strengths.

Pro Tip: An employer will likely pick your CV if the duties listed correspond to the position they are hiring for. Always tweak your CV to capture the job requirements.

  • Education
write a professional CV

It is easy to write a professional CV when you understand the format that works best for you. For an experience-based CV, your education is as important as the role you are interviewing for. A recent graduate will list his/her primary and secondary school certifications, while a qualified professional lists tertiary education. An employer will not look at what you did in your primary school if you have 3 years of experience. Focus on the most recent and relevant education qualifications.

Pro Tip: A captain role in your high school is not necessary if you are currently leading a team at work. Stay updated and relevant. If you have attended any trainings workshops, this is the section to include them in. Add any professional certifications you have attained too.

  • Referees

Any referee that is listed on the CV should be aware that their names are up for recommendations. Most referees have no idea that someone listed them, until a prospective employer calls and they have to mentally prepare in the spur of the moment. Ensure that the referees listed are relevant to your line of work, and years of expertise. Your lecturer can not be a referee when you have 2 years of work experience.

write a professional CV

In conclusion, always ensure that your CV is as short and as precise as possible. Recruiters, according to BrighterMonday survey reports, take only 7 seconds to skim through your CV. Make the seconds count. With the tips above, we hope you get to write your professional CV better, and land that interview you always wanted. Another sure of way of getting your CV stand out is reaching out to professional CV writing services at BrighterMonday!

More on What Do Employers Look For In A CV At First Glance?

I have been in the recruitment industry for eight years now. That is 8 years of short listing and reviewing CVs to gauge whether an applicant is eligible for the first interview with us, before we can recommend him/her to our client or not. Most job seekers want to know what do employers look for on a CV, as they want to have their CVs read.

In my experience, many job seekers underestimate the role that a CV plays in searching for a job.

This is the deal ,as long as it’s a total stranger reviewing your CV to decide your fitness for a given  role, it’s  very crucial that you rethink of this one very important document when applying for jobs- The CV!

Of importance to note is that this document has the potential and power to dictate the course of your career life.

In this article, I have shared simple yet very crucial insights and truths that recruiters, like myself and other employers in general, look for in a CV at first glance before they decide whether to delete or proceed and call you an interview.

For your information, it takes less than a minute for the person short listing to decide whether you’ll move to the next stage, at a slight glance at your CV.

Listed below are some sections that are of great interest to recruiters, employers and employees alike.

  1. Relevant work experience

Relevant experience touches on industry, location, experience level, specific skills e.g. knowledge of an ERP etc. Unless an employer is willing to train or is open to other industries and sectors, relevant work experience is crucial.

If, for example, am hiring for the NGO sector and I make it clear that nonprofit experience is crucial, then it is not advisable for you to apply if you don’t come from such a background. The keywords are ‘relevant work experience’.

  1. Employment Status

Are you currently engaged or not working? This could work for /or against you. Some positions require immediate placement while others are willing to wait for candidates to serve notice.

It is, therefore, prudent that you pay close attention to the details of the advert to avoid missing such important information. If you’ve been out of a job for a long time, this raises very many serious questions as to why you left your previous job and the reason why you’ve not been absorbed elsewhere yet.

Employers are generally suspicious of candidates who are not working. Some employers will actually be hesitant to hire such candidates. If you’ve been searching for a job for long with no success, I advise you to consider volunteering or interning to close this gap.

  1. Referees

If you have worked for 3 employers and none is listed as your references, this raises doubts as to how you left previous employments.  Always indicate some of your previous employers or colleagues as referees. This shows that you have nothing to hide. Unless you are fresh from college, remove your former lecturer and anyone who is not work-related from your list of referees.

  1.  Achievements

We are living in an era of a very competitive job market where the demand for jobs is high and supply low. To thrive in such an environment you need to demonstrate your uniqueness. Marketers call this USP (unique selling point), to do this, don’t just indicate your duties in the CV but rather, go a step further and list some of your achievements. List achievements in figures or percentages to drive the point home e.g. cut operating costs by Ksh 5.2M or increased sales by 23% in a span of 3 months.  3-4 achievements will do in that matter. The point is to demonstrate that you can deliver and employers want someone who can do just that.

  1. Gaps

Are there gaps in your CV? If they are too many, you might be labeled a job hopper. To avoid this, always explain in your CV why you left each employment and what you were doing in that period. The danger with gaps is if they are too many and especially if preceded or followed by short stints in employment. Such a CV communicates that you don’t stay long in employment and employers don’t want instability since recruitment costs a lot in terms of time and money.

The danger with gaps is if they are too many and especially if preceded or followed by short stints in employment. Such a CV communicates that you don’t stay long in employment and employers don’t want instability since recruitment costs a lot in terms of time and money.

  1. Duration of employment with current employer

If you were hired in May this year and you are already applying for other jobs know that few or no employer(s) will take you seriously. While it’s expected that candidates will seek greener pastures employers look down upon those who look unsettled by changing jobs within a short period. This is related to point five above.  In such a case,I advise you embark on networking. With networking, you can get a chance to explain yourself even before you share your CV with a potential employer.

This is related to point five above.  In such a case,I advise you embark on networking. With networking, you can get a chance to explain yourself even before you share your CV with a potential employer.

  1. Education

Those who have studied claim that they are trainable on any job. And those with experience but no qualifications are quick to point out that experience triumphs all.

Different employers look at the education part differently. For some it is mandatory for you to have achieved a certain level of education e.g. graduate or MBA, for others what matters is whether you can deliver, and yet for some employers, the more ‘educated’ you are the less absorbable you become i.e. some employers will not hire you if you have an MBA etc.

The job market has many twists and turns and you need to read between the lines. For example, you don’t need a CPAK, B.com and, MBA to perform as an accounts assistant. Chances are high that an employer will consider CPA holders only before they can look at the ‘overqualified’ candidates.

  1. Others

How appealing is your CV to the eye? From how you’ve formatted your CV, spelling, presentation etc. Just like any other formal document, you will be judged on presentation. It even becomes more critical as you advance in your career. I might forgive you for some careless mistakes if you’re an entry-level job seeker but trust me, the same won’t happen if you have been in the job market for more than a year.

I always advise candidates to always make it easy for the person short listing by packaging  their CVs in such a way that the recruiter will get as much information as possible at a glance, and without any struggle.This will enable them  to make a quick decision about you.

Secondly, always ensure that your CV is ‘marketing’ you. You can as well share your CV with a trusted friend and request them to critique. Alternatively, have a professional review your CV.

WRITTEN BY
Mueke Katwa
I have two years experience in Business Support which covers Human Resource as a function; and a lifelong passion in creative writing.
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