As of writing, I’ve spent the last 18 months of my life mainly looking over CVs.

I’ve found that a lot of CV’s don’t earn an interview for a very simple reason:

There isn’t enough time spent on them.

Okay, this isn’t very helpful so I’ll break down my thoughts…

  1. You haven’t elaborated on your skillset

If your skills section looks like this, you need to elaborate:

Programming languages: C, C++, Java, SQL, FORTRAN, Haskell, Python, Matlab.

Instead, create a section for projects that you’ve done, tell me what the project was, what you did, and the technology that you used to do it. This will look a lot more structured and is therefore easier to digest.
(Brownie points if you include a link to your work)
(If you were working in a team at a hackathon, you should be specific about the role you played)

Also, despite common advice from educational institutions, there’s no general rule on CV length.

You shouldn’t sacrifice important information to fit the traditionally accepted one/two page criteria

2. I can’t tell what you want

The recruitment process is two way thing.

I state what I want to see in an applicant on a job advert.

When replying to the job advert, I need to know that it’s what you want.

In essence, I need to be able to see the match there.

If I can see that you’ve demonstrated your interest in the job and your passion for the field you want to go in to, I’m more likely to think you’re going to stay in the job longer. If that’s the case, you’re doing well.

By articulating your passion, interest and drive to succeed in your field, you’re creating positive signs for the company you’re applying to.

3. It doesn’t stand out from the crowd

This is important for graduates.

You need to think about what each CV will look like that goes forward for a job.

As most graduates receive similar briefings on producing a CV, from my experience, a lot of the resulting applications tend to look the same.

If you’ve done the same course, with the same modules as someone else and both are formatted it in LaTeX over one page, they’re going to look very similar.

If your CV looks the same as all of the others, it’s more difficult for it to stand out.

In the case of the example, where the majority produce a one page CV, make yours two and include a cover letter. If you decide not to format your CV using LaTeX, use it for your cover letter instead and you’re not losing out.

4. You’ve not tailored your CV to the job you’re applying for

A commonly distributed tip for writing a CV is to include in your professional profile section that you’d specifically like to apply for a job at the company you’re applying to.

If you don’t change that between applications though, it doesn’t look great.

If you send the same CV out to every company that you apply for, it’s likely that you’ll get fewer responses.

Be sure to analyse the detail of what each company is looking for, and emphasise your strengths accordingly.

E.g. If there’s a good chance you’ll be customer facing, emphasise any team activities, or other things where you can point out a need for good communication skills.

Focus on sending fewer CVs, but investing more time into each application.

5. You haven’t come across in the right way

Your CV is you on paper. It’s a representation of you going through the education system, into the world of work and it will be the basis on which you are judged in the application process.

It’s important to make sure that you have a professional email. It should scream the word “Adult”.

You need to spell and grammar check everything. If you’re going to be working in software you will need attention to detail in your work and avoidable spelling mistakes can look lazy.

Getting your CV right is crucial in landing your first role. Once you’ve overcome your interviews and you start on day one, the journey really begins.

If you enjoyed this post, here’s some more below!

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