Yes it really does!

In today’s market your application could be one of 200+ other applications; the recruiter receiving this volume of CVs needs to be ruthless, quick and focused on the most professional, easy to read, targeted and relevant applications. So what do they look for?

Whilst writing your CV, make sure you put yourself in the seat of the recruiter and think about how your document is going to be perceived within that first 30 seconds – what information have you put at the top of your CV and does this truly reflect what you consider to be the most relevant in terms of what you can offer the role and the organisation?

Think about it, if you value your marital status, date of birth and nationality higher than you place your strengths, key skills and achievements then this is all the recruiter will learn about you – you really do only have a matter of seconds to gain the attention of the recruiter, and selection processes are tough.

So what are the common mistakes responsible for the main rejections with a CV application?

Spelling and Grammar
Most common mistake is failure to personally proof read. A computer can do so much, but with many variations on words, phrases and technical jargon you must never rely on ‘spell check’ alone; always get someone else to proof your CV, you can’t always spot your own mistakes and you will tend to read it as content as opposed to how you have spelt and presented it.

Layout & Content
Another error is where each section is placed. If you put your key information on the second page of your CV, don’t expect it to be read. Lead your CV with relevancy and key information. Recruiters are interested in easy to read, succinct, highlights and not, who in your family was ill in 1991. Keep your content relevant to the role you are applying for and always consider how it will be perceived, does it look aesthetically pleasing, is it easy to pick out the key words and phrases and does it sell ‘you’.

Writing Style
So do I write in the 1st or 3rd person, how should each point start, what is the recruiter going to be looking for? Firstly, a CV should never contain the letter ‘I’ anywhere, where you want to use ‘I’ use ‘A’ or insert action verbs to commence each point.
I am a highly resourceful, pragmatic and professional Project Manager… Wrong
A highly resourceful, pragmatic and professional Project Manager… Right

Action Verbs bring an action to your content and support writing in an achievement style;
Attained, Administered, Achieved, Developed, Evaluated, Implemented, Orchestrated etc…

Personal Information
It is no longer necessary to include personal information in relation to your Date of Birth, Nationality, Marital Status, Gender, and Birth Place. In fact by including them, could very well damage your application as they are deemed very much a ‘CV faux pas’. Your application needs to be judged on your ability to carry out a role and provide a value to the organisation you are applying to and all of the information outlined above is of no relevance – do not include!

Key Words and Phrases
Get technical with your CV and directly place your application in conjunction with the role. If you look at any job vacancy there will be a set outline of essential and desirable criteria that a recruiter is looking for, you need to have these key words and phrases in your CV – one, it may be found in a database search that you are a ‘match’ to a recruiters requirements and two, when the recruiter quickly scans your CV they will see a ‘match’ to their list. Your CV may not be seen, initially, by someone who knows your role, they may well simply be looking at a list of words and trying to match them in a CV.

Targeting your Application
A common failing is that a CV is submitted without any thought as to the relevancy for the role being applied for – look at the vacancy, look at your CV, are you the person in the advertisement and does this show; if applying for a Project Manager role and your CV says you are an IT Manager, change it! Recruiters like to see an application that looks as though it has been prepared in direct relation to the vacancy they are looking to fill – if your CV is dated, remove the date, you may forget to amend the date on the CV and it could show the last time you looked at it was 3 years ago! Check each and every application very carefully.

Job Descriptions and Quantifiable Information
Anyone can write a job description, all you need to do is look up a job title on the internet and you have a description of the role and its responsibilities but this does not allow you to stand out from the other applicants, as you can all do the same job. What you want to write is what you have achieved from carrying out that role, how you have added value in your career to date to ensure you stand out from the other candidates. Quantify your experience, if you claim to have improved sales then say how and by how much – keep your detail to highlights so it can spark an interest in the recruiter to want to find out more in an interview setting.

Reason for Leaving
Never inform why you left each role on your CV; it is not relevant at this stage in the application process. Recruiters like to see how an applicant has developed their career and can spot promotional and progressive moves without wasting valuable space outlining it. Additionally if your reason for leaving was in anyway negative then you do not want this to be known at this stage – any areas of concern can be raised, if asked, at an interview when you have the platform to explain in full and answer any questions.

Number of Pages
Do not try to cram all of your information into 1 page and also, do not spread it out over 6 pages – keep to a standard guide of 2 pages, depending on your role and industry this can be pushed to a maximum of 3, but this is rare. Ensure plenty of information is contained across the page, do not have everything on one page and 2 lines on the 2nd page. If using the right format, layout and content structure your CV should flow across the space allocated.

Remember your CV will change over the years of your career. As a school / college leaver your focus will be on your school exams, participation, work experience, leisure interests and career aspirations through to as a Senior Sales Manager your CV will focus on your strengths, skills, abilities, experience and achievements. The amount of space you use will stay the same even though your content will change.

The purpose of a CV is to gain an interview, it is a document that you need to spend time and energy on to get it right, even though it may only be read in a matter of seconds or minutes – any time you can spend on your CV is never wasted, but if you don’t spend any time on it then the application process itself could well be a waste of time.

Your CV, at the end of the day, is only as good as the person who is viewing it, perceives it, and if you match what they are looking for at that time. You will rarely appeal to all recruiters, but what you want to ensure is that you appeal to most recruiters. Looking for a new job can almost be a full time job and it takes energy, willpower, and strength to overcome any rejection, keep pursuing the next application opportunity and not to give up.