Could your CV pass the 30-second test? According to research, this is the average time devoted to first reads which makes it imperative to include relevant, easy-to-find information which will secure your place in the “invite- to-interview” file.
“A CV is your sales pitch to an employer, so make sure that you make the most of this opportunity”, says careers expert Mike Morgan from recruitment giant Hays.
Grab and hold their attention by tailoring the “sales pitch” to the job description, and to the employers’ expectations.
For example, at the flight crew services division of Resource Group, senior resourcer Louise Dixon says her clients have specific information needs, such as the ranks held during flight hours (pilot-in-command hours for example) and the craft flown. “Some people list day, and night-time hours but they are not as relevant”, she says.
Other specifics for flight crew CVs include type of licence, date of the last flight, level of proficiency in English (ICAO) and employment history by month, not just by year.
Ground based technical roles, however, demand a CV which shows: “that potential employees have a balance of qualifications and experience, and can really demonstrate their added value to a company”, says Morgan, who is director at Hays Engineering.
Meanwhile, at the Civil Aviation Authority, which recruits professionals who can interpret technical knowledge as regulation advice, resourcing consultant Kelly Turner looks for “clear and concise” employment and education histories, and a short opening summary which shows people “who are influential can relate to and live our values, and work in a collaborative style.”
Aside from these nuances, there are certain conventions which give your “sales pitch” appropriate professionalism. Read on for our experts’ seven steps to a standout CV.
Recruiters often skim through CVs, so use titles such as Profile, Education, and Employment History to sign post your attributes and keep them reading.
2. Tailor to the role
Keep a master copy of your CV to capture your qualifications, skills and work history, but be prepared to tweak it to illustrate how you meet the competencies required by the vacancy. “Don’t just have one generic version”, says Turner.
3. Start with a summary
A short profile at the start of your CV, emphasising specific skills which match the role, grabs the recruiters’ attention. Keep this even briefer if you are including a covering letter (which should also be tailored to the job description).
4. Showcase success
The employment history section should highlight one or two achievements from each previous role. Illustrate your drive for excellence.
5. Keep it simple
Recruiters prefer two-page CVs. Do not exceed this length because there is no need to detail more than 10 years’ employment history, or waste space on marital status and family details. Personal photograph? Usually only for flight crew roles, says Dixon. You should include contact details, but make sure your personal email address is professional, not jokey.
6. Keep it clean
Your CV should be a truthful document, in a clear type face, without spelling or grammatical errors. Be prepared to explain in interview any gaps in employment.
7. Maintain your profile
Your CV is not a standalone document anymore, so check that your social media presence does not alarm recruiters. As Morgan points out, most employers conduct background checks, so use LinkedIn and Facebook wisely.