So you’re going for that job a million guys would kill for. But before you get to go and work for Miranda Priestly you need to get yourself hired. Performing well in an interview is only half the battle - you have to get yourself that interview first. Most jobs in the UK use the same system to filter out the good candidates, the CV; a bit of paper that's your first sales pitch to get across why you would be perfect for the job.
I spent part of my time in banking looking after Service and Sales for 14 branches of Lloyds Bank and part of my role was recruiting in new cashiers and banking advisers. I used to get 10 CV’s for every job which I had to whittle down to 2 or 3 to interview for the role. When a recruiter has 100 CV’s to review they don’t have time to pour over every word and phrase so it’s important to stand out in the sea of paper. Here are my top tips for a tip top CV that will get you noticed, categorised by quotes from The Devil Wears Prada
'Find me that piece of paper I had in my hand yesterday morning'
The starting point should be the job specification that you will have been provided with - (it’s amazing how many people read this and then forget all about it). This should be your bible as it will call out the core things that the recruiter is looking for, whether it's leadership, problem solving, sales or management.
Grab their attention by putting in a section called ‘Skills’ at the start right after your Personal Statement. Work out the key skills or attributes the employers is looking for and then list each of them, providing evidence of why you have those skills.
• People Management: I pride myself in developing others and have helped a number of my direct reports move on to more challenging roles.
If you spell out that you have everything they are looking for right from the outset this will make you stand out compared to those that launch straight into their job history.
'Details of your incompetence do not interest me'
Job descriptions alone tell the person reading a CV very little. Unless it’s something really obscure, most people can work out what the job entails, and they just waste space on the page and frustrate the reader as they have to work to pick out the important points. If you need to describe what the role is, a sentence or two should suffice.
The really important thing is to pick out your key achievements in that role. Show what you did in that role that was so fabulous that they would be stupid not to give you the job. If you have numbers like sales-figures to back this up, then all the better. Call out the key skills that you learned in the role, and make sure that these align with the skills that they are looking for when hiring for this job.
Refer back to that job description and tailor things accordingly. If the job you are applying for is customer-facing then always, always, always talk about your passion for getting things right for the customer. If you are applying for a management position call out some great examples of how you have lead a team directly or indirectly previously.
Remember, this isn’t a theme park poncho: one size doesn’t fit all, so every different job you apply for should have a different CV that fits it.
'By all means move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me'
'Curriculum Vitae'. The Latin might roughly translate to English as ‘the course of my life’, but don’t confuse this with giving your life story.
As I said, yours will be one of many CV’s that the reader will be looking at. So ideally keep it to 2 pages long, 3 at an absolute maximum. The shorter it is the more likely it is that it will get read. If it’s long it might just get skimmed and crucial points missed - or worse still, they might get bored and not even read the whole thing.
If you have had numerous roles to include then pick out the relevant ones to expand on, the ones most key to the role that you are applying for. For example if I applied for a finance job I would mention my job as a waiter whilst at university but wouldn’t elaborate on it but would talk about my banking experience. On the other hand, if I was applying for a job as a restaurant manager I would go into more detail about my waitering experience but probably be briefer about my time working in eCommerce.
Every word, every point should be relevant. Using bullet points can also help getting across the key achievements as opposed to using too much continuous text.
'Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking'
People want to hire people, not robots, so don’t do the obvious and be the same as everyone else. Writing a personal statement at the start should convey your passion for the industry you are working in or want to work in. Try to avoid the usual clichés and really try to communicate why you want to do the job and what makes you so great.
The 'hobbies and interests' section at the end can feel cheesy to write, but it’s a really important part of injecting personality into you CV, and can make you stand out that extra bit. Talk about your love for travel and how you backpacked around Thailand, or the fact that you love animals and have two pets or your passion for the theatre. If you love going out and getting hammered every weekend maybe don’t put that, although you could re-phrase as “I enjoy socialising with friends”.
Putting this information helps give the person reading a sense of you as a person and if it is interesting and different, it really can give you an edge over those millions of other candidates...
Sanjay Sood-Smith is a food entrepreneur and former candidate on The Apprentice. You can find out more about his business Tuk In, which makes curry-in-a-naan, at tukinfoods.com.
Follow him on Twitter at @sanjaysoodsmith
More from Sanjay on attitude.co.uk:
Men at Work | ‘What’s your leadeship style – Adele or Mariah?’
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