Now things have changed and it’s a buyer’s market. It’s estimated that there are now around 70 applicants per job in many industries. That means to stand any chance of success, your CV has to work hard to stand out from the crowd.
There is no magic CV that will get you noticed, as there are no hard and fast rules. The idea of a good CV is to provide the information a recruiter needs as quickly and as concisely as possible. While you’re doing that, you also have to create interest and provoke questions about you, and what you can offer.
A CV is about selling, in this case, you’re the commodity. You have to identify the need by reading the job advert, then tell the recruiter exactly how you fulfill it. You have to answer all the questions they might have, while provoking enough others that they call you. That isn’t easy to do.
There is no mandated length for a CV, but it should be no longer than two pages. That’s the one thing everyone is agreed on. A CV longer than two pages is either going to bore the recruiter before they finish, or end up in the bin.
Recruiters say they like to see a neatly formatted CV, ideally over two pages, with standard fonts, and plenty of white space. If you have 25 years work experience, you’re going to have to do some compression. Bear in mind that they will only be interested in the last 5 to 10 years, depending on your field.
Those who have just left college or university might have trouble filling two pages, so don’t. The last thing a recruiter wants to see is waffle to fill up space. If you only have enough information to fill a single page, it doesn’t matter, as long as the content addresses the advertisement. Use whatever academic projects or extra-curricular activities that relate to the role. If it isn’t relevant or doesn’t add to your story, don’t put it on there.
The trick to selling anything is to identify the need and show how you can fulfill it. Gone are the days when we could produce a CV and send it off to any job we applied for. Now we need to target the specific advert and answer all the requirements it demands. If the role specified particular skills, identify them and address them directly.
The ideal CV will quickly answer the questions the recruiter has in their mind. Can they do the job? Do they have the skills? Will they need further training? How quickly can we make them productive? Are they reliable? Are they worth the money? Most importantly, are they the best of the applicants I have?
If you can produce a CV that answers those question quickly, while provoking others, you’re on to a winner.