Your CV acts as your introduction to a recruiter and is your chance to stand out from the crowd to grab their attention.
By getting the structure right and including the most relevant information, you can begin answering some of their questions and highlighting why you’re a good fit for the role.
In order to do this, you need to give them what they want.
Here we’ve compiled a handy guide to the four most important questions your CV should always answer:
1. What are your top skills?
When reviewing your CV, one of the most important things that a recruiter is looking for is what skills you possess and whether these will allow you carry out the role to a high standard. For this reason, you need to make sure your application clearly and promptly answers the question ‘what are your top skills?’.
You can do this by adding a core skills section, in which you include a bullet pointed list of your top skills, focusing on those most relevant to the role. At this stage, it pays to use the job description to highlight any of the listed skills that you possess. This way, you make it easy for them to see that you’re the perfect match.
You should also refer to your skills throughout the other sections of your CV, such as your personal profile and work experience sections.
2. Do you have relevant experience?
Another crucial aspect for recruiters is whether you possess relevant or transferable previous experience. In fact, some roles will ask for a specific position or length of time in a previous job.
Make the most of your work experience section by outlining all the relevant roles you’ve had in the past, including a list of your responsibilities and key achievements.
What’s more, it’s worth summarising your industry experience in your personal profile, to allow recruiters to immediately gauge your suitability for the role.
For example: “An enthusiastic customer service professional with 15+ years’ experience in
customer facing support roles”.
3. Are you qualified?
If the employer is looking for a certain level of qualification, they’ll normally mention this in the job description. So, in order to show you’ve got what they want, you’ll need to make sure you clearly pinpoint your educational background.
Firstly, use your education section to outline all relevant qualifications in reverse chronological order. If a qualification, module, project or assignment you’ve undertaken is particularly relevant to the role you’re applying for, feel free to include additional detail.
Secondly, if a certain qualification is particularly important to the employer, it’s worth including it in your personal profile. An example of this could be: “Prince2 certified senior project manager with over 10 years’ experience”.
4. How can you add value to their business?
You may have plenty of relevant experience and impressive qualifications on your CV — but plenty of other candidates may have the same.
Therefore, in order to stand out, employers need to know that you’re not only going to make a success of the role but will also have a positive impact on the growth of their business.
The best way to showcase this is in your employment history and achievements section, in which you outline how you’ve made an impact in past roles or during your time in education. Better still, quantify your achievements, to really help the recruiter get a better understanding of why you’re so great.
For example: “Implemented drinks promotion to provide quick sale of expiring stock and avoid wastage, saving around £5,000 for the business”.
Does your CV answer all the right questions?
Your CV should not keep recruiters guessing. As they’re often time-strapped, they’ll quickly scan through your application and need to be able to immediately identify if you’re a good fit for the role.
So, before sending off your application, make sure it answers all the questions above. Paired with a snappy cover letter, you’ll allow the reader to immediately gauge your suitability and leave them feeling keen to invite you in for an interview.
This content ws supplied by Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.