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5 Powerful CV Changes to Improve Your Job Applications

If you’ve found a job that suits your skills and abilities to a tee, you may hastily submit your application without giving your CV much thought. After all, it showcases your work experience and skills, what more could they want?

But with an average of 39 applications per graduate role and the average job hunter applying for 27 jobs just to get one interview, it’s clear that job hunting can be no picnic.

To help you place yourself ahead of the competition, here are five powerful CV changes to improve your job applications and make you a more desirable candidate.

1. Inject relevant keywords

All too often, job hunters fire off generic copies of their CV to prospective employers, without reading the job advert properly. This decreases the quality of the application greatly.

One way to improve the quality of your CV and get it in great shape is by peppering it with keywords related to the role you’re applying for. To do this, scan the job description and highlight any of the key requirements you fulfil. Also identify frequently mentioned terms, such as industry jargon and acronyms. Then, inject the keywords and phrases you’ve identified naturally throughout your CV.

Not only will tailoring your CV in this way instantly show the recruiter that you’re a great match, but also it will help your CV to pass applicant tracking systems (ATS) which are on the hunt for keywords related to the vacancy.

2. Switch up the structure

If you’re applying for a job, you’re probably familiar with the typical structure of a CV: name and contact details, professional profile, employment history in reverse chronological order, education and qualifications in reverse chronological order, and references available on request.

However, this structure isn’t set in stone and you can switch it up to make your most relevant skills more prominent.

One way is by introducing a “key skills” section just underneath your professional profile. Here, you should bullet point a handful of your best skills that will show the recruiter why you’re suitable for the role. This section is particularly useful if you’re applying for an executive role or are a seasoned professional.

You can also get fancy with your work history section. If you’ve experienced a career change recently, you might like to split your history into the subsections “industry-related experience” and “other work experience”. Alternatively, if you have very few jobs but have completed work or volunteering placements or projects at university, you can rename your employment history “placements and projects”.

The key is to tweak the structure of your CV to make your most impressive and relevant experience shine whilst keeping the traditional structure in mind, as it’s what recruiters expect.

3. Quantify your achievements

Another way to make your CV seriously impressive is by supporting your skills and achievements with facts and figures. By providing evidence of your successes, regardless of their size, you can make your talent shine.

Here are a few examples to show you the difference:

Without facts and figures: Waited tables

With facts and figures: Waited over 150 people per shift methodically and efficiently

Without facts and figures: Trained new customer service recruits

With facts and figures: Trained over 300 new customer service recruits during my employment, on both a one-to one basis and in groups of 25

Without facts and figures: Generated revenue

With facts and figures: Generated £100k revenue in 12 months, exceeding annual sales target by 10%

Without facts and figures: Developed a new paid Facebook marketing strategy

With facts and figures: Developed a new paid Facebook marketing strategy, increasing sign-ups by 20% over 3 months

4. Remove the unnecessary

There are several things that recruiters don’t need to see on your CV.

Firstly, there are the personal details. You do not need to include information about your marital status, dependants, age or date of birth as these are factors which do not affect your ability to do the job. In fact, it’s either illegal or highly discouraged to ask for this information during the recruitment process, under the UK equality act.

You should also think about omitting details from your CV that are not referenced in the job description you’re responding to. Don’t feel you have to remove large chunks, simply reduce the level of detail slightly. This will give you more space to write about the skills that matter.

5. Get it looking savvy and professional

Tweaking your CV so that it’s easy on the eye is one of the most powerful changes you can make to your CV.

Firstly, choose a nice clean font like Ariel or Calibri so that your CV is easy to read. Then separate each section with a line and mark them with a bold heading. Keep the formatting consistent throughout, too.

Your CV should fit around two pages – perhaps three if you are further along in your career. If your CV is just over or under the requirement, tweak the font sizes and margins so that it fits the pages comfortably. This will make it look more complete.

Written by:

Laura Slingo is Digital Copywriter for the UK’s leading independent job board, CV-Library. For more expert advice on job searches, careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages.

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