5 Top Tips to make your CV stand out from the crowd

The last blog looked at what NOT to do on your CV, so let’s now look at what you SHOULD do that will help you stand out from the crowd.  For many roles in Housing at the moment, you can expect upwards of 40-50 applications, so it is absolutely critical that you do everything you can to ensure you make the shortlist for interview.

perfect CV

According to Google, you have on average 6 seconds to get an employers’ attention (I had also heard a stat which was closer to 4), so it is vital that you give yourself the best chance of being shortlisted.

How do we do that, Barry?

I’m glad you asked.  The simple answer is to follow these 5 steps and you won’t go far wrong.  For the acronym lovers amongst you, this one is slightly more memorable than the previous blog- KROPP (is that Danish for “to trip over”?)

  1. KISS- Keep It Simple Stupid– okay, you’re not stupid- in fact, you are obviously very clever as you are reading this! If you have only 6 seconds to get the employers attention, it is absolutely vital that your CV is easy to read, easy to find the relevant information and easy on the eye.  This is where your format and font is important, but also that you keep the information simple and concise.  You don’t need to go into minute detail- you just need to demonstrate your experience in particular areas and peak the employers interest- if you leave them asking some questions, then you are more likely to be invited in to interview so they can ask them.
  2. Relevance– Some people are worried about changing their CV, but they really shouldn’t.  Remember- the CV’s sole purpose is to convince the employer that you are worth interviewing- it is NOT a story of your life.  That is initially where people get it wrong.  The most important word here is RELEVANCE.  Every piece of information on your CV should be relevant to the reader- otherwise it is pointless.  Tailor your CV in line with the JD/Job advert and align your experience with what they need.  My advice is to have a master CV which can be as long as you want (but that never gets sent out), and then select the relevant information from each role and send that out to the role.  It takes a little more time, but it will not be as fruitless as sending out the same generic CV to every job.  We’ll go into more detail on this in the next blog, as this is the MOST important aspect of CV writing.
  3. Output focus– This is the area that many people get wrong. They will describe their job tasks rather than their impact on the business.  By illustrating your achievements/outputs, you are clearly demonstrating what benefits the employer will get if they take you on.  See the differences in the example below:
    1. Responsible for Rent Arrears Management
    2. Reduced arrears by 3.4% year on year through implementing a pro-active approach from officers and establishing a clear business process for the team, backed by KPI’s.

Not only does the latter show the impact that you have had, but also clearly demonstrates that you know how you achieved it.  Equally, the figures will draw the eye in, and so immediately stands out when initially scanning the CV.

  1. Positioning– As mentioned above, you have 6 seconds to get their attention, so you want to make sure the employer can find the relevant, concise and output focussed information as easy as possible. A little trick I like, is to ensure that the really key information is in the 2nd quarter of the first page.  This is where many people start to read a CV, so you are getting off to a flying start.  They assume that the personal details etc are in that top quarter and that doesn’t matter to start with.  If the first few bits of information they read match their requirements, you will seldom fail to make the shortlist.
  2. Personalise the Profile– If you align your personal profile with what they are asking for in the advert, you will:
    1. Demonstrate your suitability for the role
    2. Demonstrate that you have given your application due care and attention.

Use the same language that they use, and clarify why you demonstrate those attributes.  Also, it is often a good idea to align yourself to the organisation and its values for the same reason.  Please, please, please don’t use the old and tired phrases that mean nothing like, “I work well in a team or on my own initiative”!  I see it soooooo often it is starting to sap my will to live!

In the next installment, I’m going to go into some more detail on how best to tailor your CV so check it out!