I’ve put together this impromptu post after I contributed to a Reddit conversation on how to build a great cv and why recruiters aren’t contacting you about that dream job.
This post generated 50+ questions in response.
Now, instead of responding to each of these individually I’ve decided to put a quick post together to hopefully answer some of these and provide some helpful tips for any job seekers.
A little background info
So before we get stuck into this, let me give you a little background on my credentials so to speak.
I’ve worked in the HR or people industry as it’s called nowadays for over 15 years with several global top 20 employers. The majority of my services have been provided to large technology and digital organisations.
In my time in charge of recruitment, I’ve probably reviewed nearly 20,000 cv’s!! and I’ve always worked in-house with the employer directly, never through an agency. I
I’ve worked with tech companies to build teams across UK, Europe and Asia so you can say most of my experience has come from recruiting tech professionals but I’ve recruited across other verticals too.
7 steps to a great CV
I always suggest that your cv is no more than 2 pages long
Simply because recruiters are super busy and you need to grab their attention in 30 seconds otherwise they’ll be onto the next one.
Submitting a 15 page cv, listing everything that you’ve done since leaving the womb is not going to get you far. Recruiters are on tight deadlines and although you could be the perfect candidate, no one is going to read through an essay to find out.
A general rule would be 2, but if you have too, no more than 3 pages.
If I received a penny for every profile I read proclaiming they were the second coming or I needed to hire them to ensure my employers survival than I would be a millionaire by now.
This part of your cv is a great opportunity for you to showcase in a paragraph or two, what you’re about.
Are you a superstar software engineer who built a new service for facebook or google? Include that, proven track record of delivering large projects to budget? Put that down, but just make sure you can back it up.
You have 3 children, 2 dogs, live in the country and enjoy golf? This is not going to catch the attention of your prospective employer.
You should also use this section to showcase what you’re passionate about in terms of the role you’re applying for.
Are you passionate about building world class products? are you a java coding genius? are you crazy and enjoy working on so many projects that no amount of caffeine can keep you going? – include it!
Employers want people who are ambitious and have a real interest in the company.
Hobbies & Interests
I’m always conflicted about this part of a cv.
I always believe it should be included as it’s pivotal for an employer to make sure they are bringing people on board who have some sort of personality and can work with the existing team.
However, what they don’t want is paragraphs on everything you do in your private life.
Keep it simple and list a few hobbies really close to your heart which you can talk about passionately. If you don’t like reading or sewing than don’t put that down, but if you’re a big fan of dancing or carp fishing than throw it in.
It’s your hobbies after all and they want to know the real you.
An additional tip I’ll throw in here, is to showcase any side projects you may have that will relate and/or benefit the role that you’re applying for.
An example being if you’re applying to be a content writer and run a blog, then make sure to share this in your application. This could turn out to be a great advantage to you.
I don’t think I need to say much here, just make sure you always run a spellcheck and proofread any document before you submit it to that dream employer.
Too many times I’ve seen cv’s rejected by recruiters (and AI tools these days) and hiring managers due to poor spelling/grammar.
We can all let minor things slide, yet you’d be surprised at just how many applications are rejected as they are unreadable.
Check it and check it again!!!
The content within this is where you need to be creative and showcase what you will bring to the employer.
For each previous role you’ve occupied, write a short one paragraph intro outlining your role and then bullet point key projects highlighting what you delivered.
Recruiters and hiring managers want to know what you have delivered not your team, what part you played and how this experience can be used in the role you’re applying for.
Also keep your career history in chronological order.
The recruiter should see your most recent role at the top of your cv and not have to go hunting for it. Follow this same format with your LinkedIn profile too.
As I recruit within the UK, we don’t require photos on cv’s and I believe the USA is the same.
I’m aware this is different across some of Europe and Asia, but make sure that you’re accustomed with the recipient organisations local culture before you submit a cv for that dream job.
I’ve seen far too many candidates write paragraph after paragraph about every skill they have amassed in their life.
You want to tailor the skills you have to the specific job you have applied for, inserting keywords here is pivotal for getting noticed but no more than 10-15 in my opinion.
A list of 100 + skills may throw off recruiters and will mean your screened out by any software reviewing cv’s.
As with the other points, keep it simple and honest – especially in the technology arena as you will be tested.
That’s all the tips and insights for this post. Make sure to review these, look over your cv and good luck with your applications.
As a bonus I’ve provided links below to other helpful articles that will help you build a great CV.
I would suggest that you also check out these articles below, which contain some great tips
Before you go… 👋
If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.