When seeking employment, it is required to give potential employers an overview of your skills and work experience, and a CV is the most widespread form. The Internet is full of CV writing guides and it can be quite difficult for someone who is not involved with recruitment every day to evaluate what kind of CV is most attractive to an employer. A professional spends just seven seconds to review your CV and assess eligibility.
At CVO Recruitment we see hundreds of CVs, which has provided us with great insight regarding the most common mistakes. We will share helpful insights on how to make yourself stand out to the recruiter and the company.
- Formatting. A CV does not have to begin with the title Curriculum Vitae or be formatted on a blank page. CVs that use colours, diagrams or unusual layouts will get you noticed. Nevertheless, we still recommend that you follow the ‘less is more’ principle and use effects to draw attention to the most significant aspects. Canva.com is a very popular and user-friendly environment for drawing up more creative CVs. Although classic-looking CVs are functional as long as the information is presented in a concise manner.
- Photograph. If you do not have a professional and up-to-date photograph of yourself, we recommend you leave it off your CV. A photograph should bring added value and give an insight into the kind of candidate that should be expected at the interview; it certainly should not be a favourite photograph from 20 years ago. We have frequently encountered such situations.
- Date of birth, accurate place of residence and marital status. This is personal information that should not be the standard when making a recruitment decision, thus it is not necessary to share such information. In addition, it is not a good idea to share such information in public sources for safety concerns. The Internet is certainly a public source. In your CV, we recommend that you only include your city or county of residence if you are interested in jobs in a particular region.
- Language proficiency. Nowadays, there are few fields where only one language is used in the workplace and therefore employers also look at the candidates’ language proficiency. When evaluating language proficiency in accordance with the broadly used Council of Europe language proficiency levels A-C, it is worth bearing in mind that A is the lowest level and C is the highest. We have noticed that this can be confusing. In your CV, we recommend that you include languages you are at least somewhat proficient at, which allows you to use them at work or in daily life and exclude languages that you learned many years ago and have not put into practice.
- Training. Besides work experience, the candidate’s skills are demonstrated by training courses completed and certificates obtained. In your CV, we recommend that you include your area of specialisation or the training courses related to your requested job that highlight your strengths. This is true even if you have many years of work experience and have completed dozens of training courses. Companies appreciate the ability to emphasise only the most important aspects and prefer to read CVs that are one or two pages long. The aim of a CV is to make the initial introduction, as the opportunity to introduce yourself in more detail will come at the interview.
For quite some time now, especially in the IT sector, we have come across candidates who do not even have a separate CV file but use a LinkedIn profile instead. This is spreading to other fields too, and we believe that this sort of easily updatable and universally designed virtual CV will soon be the standard. Additionally, it gives you access to job offers that are not shared on traditional job portals because LinkedIn is the most common platform for professional recruiters to find passive job candidates and make direct offers.
What should a LinkedIn profile resemble to be comparable to a CV and get you noticed by a recruiter?
- The first thing you notice when you open your LinkedIn profile is the About section, which is essentially the introduction to your profile. You can present your experiences and interests in free-form in this section, with the purpose of generating interest and becoming familiar with the job-seeker. If preferred, you can include an e-mail address or phone number, but it is important to once again mention that too much personal information should not be shared.
- When describing experience, it is a good idea to specify job duties and other job-related keywords, programmes and specific characteristics. Keywords are something that recruiters use as tools to detect suitable candidates: the more appropriate words on the profile, the better it looks in the search process, and this will bring new job offers to your inbox.
- Focus greatly on the Skills section, where you can add various skills and certificates. We recommend that you update it as your experience grows, adding only job-related keywords.
- Regarding language proficiency and the photograph, the same principles apply as for the classic CV.
- The LinkedIn profile also has a wonderful section entitled Recommendations. In order to get a better idea of your skills or personality, you can ask a (former) colleague, client or partner to briefly describe you. This gives the profile reader a good indication of the kind of person behind the profile. It is worth bearing in mind that it looks more credible if the recommendations are not written mutually to each other. LinkedIn will show it. Two or three recommendations are sufficient.
- Sections can be added to your profile to display licences, certificates, awards and publications to further introduce your skills and experience.
When compiling your CV and LinkedIn profile, it is also important that you take into consideration the field and job you are applying for. A start-up company’s marketing manager and an accountant working in the public sector will have entirely different CVs, but both have the opportunity to showcase their strengths. The CVs and profiles that get you noticed the most are those that add something original to the text and formatting while staying true to itself. The aim of a CV or a LinkedIn profile is to open the door to new opportunities, as you never know when your dream job will come knocking.