Job hunting is an exciting (and stressful) process that requires a great set of skills and constantly being at the top of the game. Whether you’re a recent grad seeking for your first full-time job or you’re looking to spice up your career and change your current workplace – competition is harsh out there. According to BeHiring, there’s an average of 250 resumes received for every job position. If this hasn’t been a strong enough eye-opener for you, here’s another piece of the information provided by TheLadders: when a recruiter skims through your CV, it takes him only around 6 seconds to decide whether or not you’re fit for an interview. Add the fact that only around 2% of the people who apply for some job actually make it to the interview and you’ll probably want to crawl into a hole and never come out again. However, these facts are not supposed to scare you or make you curl into a fetal position on the bed while contemplating the value of your diploma on the market (although we’ve all been there). Instead, you should use this data for motivation to become the best player among other job seekers and guess what – it all starts with your CV.
School programs the schooled to type a CV. Life inspires the unschooled to type a business plan.Mokokoma Mokhonoana, philosopher, social critic and graphic designer
Your professional resume is your first encounter with the potential future employer: wouldn’t it be just peachy to know exactly what you should and shouldn’t do? Chances are that you have what it takes – you’re just might not be communicating it the right way. While you probably know what content to include and what is the basic structure of an average CV – there’s a rookie mistake right there. You don’t want it to be average – you want it to be extraordinary and stand out among other applications. Keep in mind that if you personally think it looks good, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the HR officer will share your opinion. There’s a lot more to it than balanced and appealing design. Take a few minutes to read through the insider info we’ve prepared and learn all about how your CV is seen through the recruiter’s eyes.
Lying is not a way to stand out
While you might be tempted to embellish your resume a bit, holding a garage sale in your yard does not really classify as “retail experience”. Stretching the truth this way may seem as a quick solution but it can backfire big time. Firstly, you are suggesting qualifications that you don’t have in reality and you might find yourself in an unpleasant position if you do get hired, i.e. you won’t have a clue how to do your job. Secondly, if the HR officer catches you lying, you’ll likely to be instantly eliminated.
Around 56% people choose to lie in their CVs: do yourself a favor and don’t join this group, even if you think you’ll get a chance to prove yourself after being hired. Job seekers overlook the following: interviews aren’t just about assessing your professional experience or checking if all the information you’ve provided is true. The recruiter will try to figure out whether or not you share the values of the company and how well would you fit into the company’s corporate culture. Understand that recruiters are hiring you as a wholesome person, not just an employee that knows how to do a certain job properly.
It’s a misconception that only the candidate is in a vulnerable position here: recruiters represent the employer’s side and they want to make a good impression, too. Today’s companies know the importance of friendly office environment and they are well aware of the ways it can affect their business. Reputation is everything and hiring processes are a piece of that puzzle.
An increasing number of employers seek candidates that have impressive soft skills, such as assertive communication, ability to be persuasive or easily socialize with others, ability to teach and learn, take initiative when needed, etc. According to the Executive Summary: Future of Jobs (World Economic Forum), these qualities will become crucial by 2020 – even more important than technical skills which can be learned. This change in recruitment processes is noticeable already, so there’s really no need to lie in your CV: work on communicating your strong sides instead and show ambition for progress.
Watch out for beginner’s mistakes
You may think you’ve polished your CV up to perfection but business trends are constantly evolving and you have to keep up. For example, switching jobs too often has been considered to be a bad trait in the past since in that economic climate – it was thought to show incapability of holding a job and a lack of clear career focus. Today, with the new generation of Millennials, the attitude towards job-hoppers has severely changed: it’s healthy, desirable, and essential for learning new skills and raising your value on the market. To make sure your CV is on the point in the eyes of the HRO, go through the following checklist and answer the questions sincerely:
- Does your CV contain a photograph?
- Are you positive there are no typos and misspellings?
- Is your email address professional?
- Did you adapt your CV to the position you’ve applied for?
If you’ve proudly answered “yes” to the first question, you may want to reconsider your decision. If you take a look at the results of research regarding recruiters’ on-the-job behavior, you will see that the aforementioned 6 seconds of their time need to be cleverly directed. Although attaching a photo seems reasonable so they can connect your accomplishments to your face, it’s a two-edged sword. Statistically – it might backfire. Visual elements such as photos take around 19% of the recruiter’s time. That percentage could be used for reading other important information. In addition to that, HR officers don’t typically like seeing photos in CVs as they can easily be blamed for being biased or even worse – racist or sexist when choosing one candidate over another.
There is a place for your photo, though: on your online profile. LinkedIn is considered to be a form of an online CV where you have more room for details regarding your education and experience. If you want to be professional, you must include a link to your profile in your resume. Things function a bit differently in the virtual world. Job seeking platforms such as the Magnet.me encourage you to fill in your profile to get more relevant results when browsing for jobs. Also, a completed profile with a personal photo helps companies get a full, clear, and thorough sense of your past experience and future career direction.
Excellent grammar and an appropriate email address are mandatory. Even though you might think it’s not that big of a deal, oh yes – yes it is. According to CareerBuilder, an astonishing 61% of the surveyed recruiters said a single typo in a resume would make them instantly discard a candidate, while 35% reported the same in case they spot an unprofessional email address. Use free online grammar checkers to eliminate errors from your CV or give it to your friend for a review.
In addition to all of this, you have to tailor your CV according to the job you’re applying for. One size does not fit all: it’s a mistake to use a generic CV and send it everywhere. Study through the job requirements and exclude all of the irrelevant info. If you’re a recent college graduate, it’s advisable to include your GPA, but only if it’s at least 3 or higher.
Impress them and land that interview
In order to get a chance to be in the top 2% of applicants that get interviewed, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the HR officer. While avoiding the four mentioned mistakes, you must organize the structure and form of your CV so that it leaves a good impression and guides the reader’s eye. Keep in mind the following:
- Be clear and concise while minding the form
- Adjust the language and use savvy keywords
- Provide scannable content
You have to treat your CV for what it is: an overview of your accomplishments and a clear pointer of where you plan on going with your career. It shouldn’t be an overly detailed life story but a skillfully organized set of arguments of why you are capable of doing a job you’ve applied for. It should be maximum two or three pages long – otherwise, you risk of being eliminated at the very start. You have to take the recruiter’s time resources into consideration. As for the form, use action verbs to describe your previous roles: they are best for displaying the way you’ve contributed to a positive end result.
Did you know that Google gets around 1 million job applications per year? Even a lot smaller companies choose to use software that scans submitted applications and searches for keywords to ensure the candidate is suitable for the next step – human review. If your CV gets to that phase, an HR officer will dedicate as little as 2 seconds of their time in search of the words that match job requirements. This means you have to bold them to make them eye-catching and be strategic in displaying them the right way. That leads us to the last, but certainly not the least important point – providing scannable content.
Recruiters will spend most of their time (around 80%) assessing the following six things in your CV:
- Your name
- Your current position
- Your previous position
- Starting and ending dates for the previous position
- Starting date for the current position
- Overview of your education
I want to work at Airbnb. I realize thousands of other very talented people do as well, so to show the kind of value I’d bring to the team, I’ve decided to be proactive and have analyzed the global tourism market to give you my two cents on where Airbnb should focus next.Excerpt from Nina Mufleh's resume submitted to Airbnb
Your job is to give them what they search for in an easy-to-read manner. Use a simple font and don’t include too many colors. Consult a graphic designer. HR officers are efficient and they want key information optimally organized so they can scan through your CV as fast as possible. If you really want to capture their attention, start your resume with a short summary of your accomplishments: keep in mind it’s only to highlight your career direction. That’s what’s bound to impress them: a feeling of clarity and simplicity.
As the last takeaway: a great CV doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have the right kind of enthusiasm and determination to succeed. You have to create that go-getter mindset! Have you heard of Nina Mufleh? She desperately wanted a job at Airbnb and she found her way of catching the attention of the company’s CEO. These stories are inspirational as they show the importance of persistence and just how true effort pays off in the end. It’s certainly useful to understand what recruiters expect from job candidates. Now, go rewrite your CV and best of luck finding a rewarding job you’ll enjoy!