Choosing a free CV template is the easy part. It’s now time to put pen to paper or fingers to keys, and write a fantastic CV.
To help you succeed in getting to the interview stage, here are our top 8 tricks to get your application noticed…
Use quality paper
There are certain times when handing a physical copy of your CV to the employer will get you noticed. A high street retail shop is a great example, but trying to get to see the CEO of Google is not. If you feel that handing a printed copy of your CV is the right choice, then don’t forget to use quality paper.
The standard density or thickness of popular photocopy paper is 80gsm (grams per square metre). This is very thin paper that is fine for printing out a report at work, but not so good for your CV. If you want to make a great impression when handing your CV to the manager, you need to go for thicker paper.
Around 100-120gsm is the right quality for your CV. The slightly thicker paper has a nicer feel to it, and the quality of your application will stand out. Don’t underestimate how effective the quality of paper can be when you apply in person. It says a lot about the lengths you’ve gone too in order to impress.
Keep to the point
The expected length of a CV for most occupations is 2 pages of A4 paper. There are a few exceptions to that rule, but two pages is the industry standard. It supplies the employer with just the right amount of information for them to make a decision. One page is clearly not enough, unless you’re using the Résumé format in the US. For all but senior roles, three pages could be too long and drawn out, and unable to catch the attention of the manager.
When it comes to utilising those two pages of A4, you should look to keep everything to the point. Be brief and concise, and only supply as much relevant information as possible. The employer isn’t interested in your complete work history and every single skill you’ve ever picked up along the way. They are mainly concerned with what you have to offer them in terms of what is relevant to the role.
Hobbies – be sporty and creative
What we would call ‘bog standard’ hobbies, like socialising on the weekend, going to the cinema and walking the dog, would not add any value to your CV. However, if you have a sporty or creative hobby, then include this to further bolster your credentials.
A sporty hobby could indicate to the employer that you are quite fit and unlikely to take off many sick days. A creative hobby could link in nicely to a creative role – especially if it is in a similar industry to your career.
Hobbies can also demonstrate many soft skills which could be important for the role. Communication is a great example. Leadership qualities could easily be seen from your hobby as the vice president of the fishing club. So don’t forget how valuable these types of hobbies could be for your CV.
- hobbies that show you are a team player
- hobbies that show you have a particular responsibility, eg secretary or treasurer or that you have taken on a leadership role
- as with your work experience, when discussing your extracurricular activities, include examples where you have been innovative or creative and turned round the fortunes of a club or society
- give specific examples: if you love films, say which genre or which director
- this can be an opportunity to give a nod in the direction of humour – for example supporting a less than successful football team can be used to highlight resilience and commitment!
Never moan about a previous employer
Badmouthing a previous employer or manager on your CV is a terrible idea. Even if you make a subtle hint that things weren’t quite right, you are showing a level of un-professionalism. It could mean that you are prone to arguments and may even badmouth your new employer at some point.
Always remain on good terms with your employers, managers and co-workers if possible. You never know when you might need a glowing review. Headhunting is still a thing, so having a bad reputation will block that avenue of opportunity off altogether.
Include a photo
Before we talk about this, you need to understand that caution is very important here. You should certainly proceed with it that’s for sure!
Adding a photo to your CV could make or break your chances. It really does depend on the role you’re applying for, and also how the picture looks. Not everybody is great at choosing a good picture of themselves, so always seek a second opinion.
See below for further guidance.
Use a good printer
It’s not just good quality paper that you need when printing out your CV – you also need a great printer. Your whole application needs to be wrapped in a bow and smelling like roses. Ideally you should role out a red carpet and have it hand delivered to the manager by Richard Branson.
OK, OK, so we took that a little bit too far. But you get the idea!
Line up the staple at the top. It’s a simple detail that won’t be noticed if you get it right, but stands out like a sore thumb when you do a sloppy job. A quick, but very simple and effective tip!
Don’t neglect your covering letter
Writing a cover letter is a great way to setup and introduce your CV. It adds a nice touch to your overall application, and tells the employer you are serious. Other applicants will not have written one, so you are already one step ahead of them.
However, it has to be professionally written otherwise you will actually damage your chances.
- Sample cover letter – Prospects.ac.uk
Choosing a photo for your CV template
If you decide to include a photo on your CV, make sure you’re wearing smart clothes and your picture is isolated on a plain background. Smile and look positive and happy. Avoid selfie-style poses and pouts that make you look self-interested – not a good trait for an employee! Here are three great examples that would work well on a CV: