With some job adverts continuing to attract hundreds of applicants, and competition for roles still fierce in some areas, standing out amid a sea of CVs can be a challenging task. So what key points must your CV address to catch the eye of a prospective employer?
- The reasoning behind your interest in this job, company and industry
- The value you can bring to the role
- The potential you have to succeed now and in the future
Your CV is your first point of contact with an employer and the strongest asset you possess
Think of your CV as your own living, breathing, personal marketing pitch – it must address all the questions your audience (i.e. recruiters and hiring managers) are wondering about you and it must answer them clearly and succinctly. Remember, your interview invitation hinges on the degree to which your CV provides them with the information they want to hear. Ensure that what you write is strong, relevant, and tailored.
The three areas your CV should cover:
1. The reasoning behind your interest in this job, company and industry
Above all, the reader wants to know that you are genuinely interested in this job. And, when reading your CV, they are essentially seeking assurance of this in the language and words you use. They are looking for signals that indicate genuine interest, and if they don’t get them, they will likely assume that you have just submitted a blanket application.
So, before you go to tailor your CV for a specific application, identify what it is about the job that made you want to apply to begin with. Do the organisation’s purpose and values particularly strike a chord with you? Does the skill-set required especially align with yours? Researching the company and industry can help you to articulate this.
Once you have worked out your reasons for applying, make sure to tailor your personal statement and cover letter and weave in some of your research. Demonstrating that you understand the company’s unique mission will make a positive early impression on your audience.
2. The value you can bring to the role
Jobs are advertised because there is a need for a problem to be solved or help to be provided. Therefore, when reading your CV, the recruiter or hiring manager will be looking for clear evidence of the value you would bring to the specific role and organisation.
If you’re thinking about the best way to do this, look to your employment history. Ensure that under each entry you are not only focusing on your responsibilities but the value you added to each role. These entries should not simply read like job descriptions, but tell the story of your unique strengths and accomplishments.
Remember to support these points with evidence – identify your biggest standout achievement for each role, no matter how big or small, and focus on this and the difference it made.
3. The potential you have to succeed now and in the future
As the world of work evolves, potential is becoming a more common gauge or indicator than years of experience when assessing the suitability of a candidate. Take advantage of this by clearly evidencing what you are good at now, and how well this equips you to do the job in question. The recruiter or hiring manager looking at your CV needs to be in no doubt of your ability not only to do the job competently, but how you fit into the company going forward. Does your role have the capacity to evolve – or do you have the potential to advance? Your enthusiasm and ability needs to be left in no doubt.
Whilst tailoring your employment history goes some way towards showing the value you bring, there are a couple of other things you can do to show that you’re thinking about your upward career mobility:
- Articulate your ambition and future plans in your personal statement, linking back to the job in question and the opportunities you think you would gain from it.
- Evidence your commitment to continuous upskilling by tailoring the skills section of your CV, weaving these skills into your employment history.
However important it is to ensure that your CV addresses the three key points listed above, all of your hard work will be wasted if you submit something that is littered with mistakes. By making the effort to ensure that your CV is 100% error-free you are not only delivering on the promise of a proactive and committed attitude, but also eliminating the possibility of your CV being rejected on the basis of a simple mistake, an all too common occurrence when competition is high.
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About this author
Maureen joined Hays in 2000 where she specialised in Senior Accounting and Finance recruitment. With over 17 years’ experience, Maureen is the Director for Cork, Limerick and Galway along with over overseeing the Banking and Construction & Property operations in Cork. She also provides training expertise in the area of candidate screening and interviewing.