Spending time refining your CV is one of the most important things you can do to help you stand out in the jobs market and land you an interview. Whether applying speculatively or via a recruiter, you need to ensure that you give yourself the best chance of being noticed. A lot can be gleaned from a CV, but what can you do to make your personality shine?
Showcasing your personality
One of the toughest things to get across on a CV or résumé is your personality. Yet we know only too well that employers are increasingly looking beyond technical skills – your experience and track record to do the job plus any industry qualifications you may have – and placing far more importance on interpersonal or ‘soft’ skills. In other words, they want to know if you’ll fit into their culture, if you’re a team player, a good communicator, have a good attitude, get on with people etc.
Recruiters and hiring managers can often reach the wrong conclusion about you based on your CV, which can be detrimental to your chances of success. For example, you may be the most organised and tidy person in the world but if your CV is littered with spelling mistakes or is visually unappealing, you’ll give out the impression that you’re probably not very efficient and the quality and thoroughness of your work may be questioned.
Before we go into more detail about the CV itself, the top reasons why new hires don’t work out are all linked to the big personality dimensions: conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, neuroticism and agreeableness.
According to a Leadership IQ Global Talent Survey, these were as follows:
- Coachability – taking on board feedback and making changes to improve
- Emotional intelligence – understanding your own and others’ emotions
- Motivation – how likely you are to be driven and committed at work
- Temperament – whether or not you have the right character to fit in
Where possible, demonstrating these attributes in your CV will help stand you out from other applicants.
Creating a powerful CV – top tips
Here is some practical advice to make the right first impression with your CV:
Use a conversational tone to grab the interviewer’s attention from the off. You can achieve this by including a short introductory paragraph to provide a quick snapshot of you as a person and your achievements. If you’re a salesperson, you might want to focus on ‘hitting targets’ but also how much you ‘love talking to customers’.
Is your formatting consistent throughout? Are all the important sections neatly separated out? As a rule of thumb, you want to keep things simple. A few pointers:
- Keep it short and no more than two pages long
- The last 10 years’ experience is sufficient
- Don’t use fancy colours, photos or design elements
- Use bullet points to break up the text
Include previous jobs and relevant industry experience. If you have any relevant qualifications or training, add that in too. Be careful not to just provide a long list of job responsibilities, select your most relevant achievements. You must tailor your CV to the job in question, so go through the job description carefully and tick off all the essential requirements one by one.
Remember also to quantify your experience but don’t overdo it, just pick out the key highlights:
‘I researched and found a new IT outsourcing provider that saved our company £10k’
‘I won a brand new account that was worth £50k in sales for the quarter’
- Personal brand
Employers will probably want to check out your social media presence on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Make sure you don’t have any comments or pictures that people might find offensive or inappropriate. Depending on the role and industry, include these links in your CV, as well as your website/portfolio as the case may be.
When listing your previous roles and responsibilities, it’s easy to fall into the trap of regurgitating a job description. Make it more human, mention using your initiative, a desire to learn, that you enjoy working in teams. Employers want to know that you like collaborating with others.
This is so important. Resist the temptation to send an email without printing off and going through your finished document first. Competition for jobs is already tough enough as it is, so don’t make it easy for the hirer to ignore your candidacy because you rushed and didn’t do a final check.
And here’s a bonus tip:
- Research the company
Find out everything you can about the organisation so you don’t get caught off guard when facing interview questions. Look at the company’s website, Google them, read their latest press releases. Think about using some of the information in your CV. It’s bound to catch the eye of the reader!
A strong CV will make a big impact. Set yourself up for the best possible success by not only making it a top-notch CV, but also by letting your personality and uniqueness shine through. Most applicants won’t do all the above, so you’ll be at an instant advantage. Good luck in your job search and interviews!