How to get your CV on the shortlist

By Corinne Mills Corinne Mills is the Managing Director Personal Career Management, the UK’s leading career coaching company selected by SecsintheCity to provide PA and Secretarial candidates with specialist Corinne Millscareer coaching support. Recruiters make very quick decisions on whether your CV ends up on the shortlist or reject pile so here are some tips to help you make it as easy as possible for the employer to see your suitability.

1. Be realistic. Apply for roles where you meet all of the selection criteria and can provide lots of good examples to prove it. If you don’t have this, then accept that you are unlikely to be shortlisted.

2. Apply for jobs you genuinely want. Half-hearted applicants are easy to spot as their CVs often lack focus and impact and there is no point applying for a job you wouldn’t accept.

3. Use a profile. Positioned on the first page after your contact details, this is the earliest opportunity for you to show you have exactly what they are looking for. Include the key skills and experience you have which are relevant to the job. Avoid talking about your personal qualities or softer skills unless you can back them up with evidence eg instead of “strong commercial acumen” write “strong commercial acumen including identifying business opportunities for new revenue streams”

4. Show added value. Your employment history should not be written as just a series of dates and tasks you have undertaken. It should show how you have contributed to the team and organisation. This could include additional income you helped to generate, costs you reduced, improvements in quality or the introduction of new ideas. No matter what role you worked in, you must show that you had a positive impact on your team, organization or customers.

5. Impeccable presentation. Personal Career Management surveys have revealed that 9 out of 10 CVs have errors on them and applications are often rejected on that basis alone. Your CV must be error-free to reinforce the professionalism and attention to detail that employers want.

6. Watch your language. The use of jargon, clumsy expression or clichés can sabotage the chances of even the most capable of candidates. Instead of using the “I” pronoun such as “I did this...I did that....” use positive action words to lead bullet points e.g. “Initiated this…Created that...” which will seem much more dynamic. This will give a very energetic feel to your CV and help reinforce the message that you are an upbeat, “can-do” type of candidate. Online recruiters also use key words to search for CVs containing particular skills and qualifications, so ensure that your CV includes the relevant key words likely to be used.

7. Digital compatibility. When you apply online for a role, your CV is scanned by software before human eyes ever see it. Formatting options like columns, shading, boxes etc may look nice, but they could interfere with the software’s ability to store the information on your CV.

If you're unsure about your next move or not having the success you want in your job search, then working with a reputable career coach such as Personal Career Management can be of great benefit. Find out more here. To get head hunted on SecsintheCity ....


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