Recruitment during a pandemic: How to create a killer CV in 5 easy steps!

How to make you CV stand out

Current levels of employment have meant as many as 50 people chase every job in coronavirus stricken areas of the UK. By comparison, there were four and a half claimants per vacancy in April, and just over eight in May 2020.

With that much more competition, it’s incredibly important that you ensure your application stands out from the crowd. 

Creating an impactful CV is an art form and one that often takes a lot of time and numerous revisions. Whether you’re a new graduate fresh out of university or back on the job market after a long time in one place, our 5 top tips will help you write a really strong, stand-out CV that’s tailored to you and your skillset.

1) Do yourself justice 

A typical CV should come as close to two pages as you can get it and it’s important to use this space to inform the employer of the qualifications that you have and about the things that make you better than competition.

This is no place for modesty. Shout about any relevant outstanding achievements, such as impressive, A-Level results, university grades or external qualifications. 

You may also like to mention some achievements which are not essential to the vacancy but that are important to you, but place these towards the end of your CV and keep it brief.

2) Tailor it to the individual role

Most employers will only spend up to 30 seconds skimming your CV before they’ve decided to invite you to an interview. This will be especially true at times like this when the employer will most likely have a large pile of other applications to wade through. 

Every job you apply for should have its own tailored cover letter and CV to give yourself the best chance of being selected from the stack and put into the interview pile. Carefully structure your CV so the most relevant topics are positioned near at the top to catch their attention from the first glance. For example, if the job description calls for applicants with experience using a particular software and you have this experience, you should include this in your key skills and position it clearly near the top of the page.

3) Structure carefully

Create clear sections within your CV so the employer can efficiently navigate their way through to the bits they’re interested in. 

As a guide you may look to follow these sections:

  • Personal details
  • Key skills
  • Relevant work experience
  • Education 
  • Additional training (if applicable)
  • Personal interests 

Bullet points are another useful technique as they help to break up the page whilst keeping your information tidy and accessible.

4) Discuss your experience

The most common mistake that people make when composing a CV is to write a long list of their past jobs and experiences without explaining what they’ve learned as a result. Alongside each point, include a summary of the key skills you picked up along the way and how they relate to the position you are applying for.

Even if your past experience may not seem to obviously apply to the new position, find transferable skills. These are one of the most crucial things to include in your CV as it demonstrates that you’ve taken learnings onboard which you can now apply to your next role. 

Employers love these and you’ll always have more than you think. Have a look at your past experience see if any of these common transferable skills can be highlighted:

  • Attention to detail
  • Team player
  • Time management 
  • Delegation
  • Budgeting 
  • IT literate 
  • Meeting deadlines 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Working under pressure
  • Accurate

5) Attention to detail

Speaking to our HR manager, Melanie Astbury, we asked what one piece advice she has for candidates at this time. She emphasised the importance of reading the vacancy description and making sure your application matches this. “As people are applying for more jobs – regardless of their past experience – they are not paying attention to requirements or answering all the questions and showing they meet the criteria. 

“To stand out, it’s really important that you show that you’ve read the brief and that you have given it careful consideration. Write a cover letter detailing why you’re the perfect candidate and don’t send the same CV to every job you apply for – tailor the contents to suit the specification, and you’ll show prospective employers that you’re a serious contender for the role.

“Also, consider printing a paper copy before sending it out. Sometimes, it’s tricky to spot grammatical mistakes on screen. And as a final step, get someone to proofread it for you – they can also provide practical advice and feedback that could help you to improve your final version.”