When looking for a job, people typically try and play a numbers game. The quickest way to nab that new job is to send out as many CVs as possible, right? After all, the more applications you complete, the better your chances? That’s certainly what many people seem to think. However, the truth is that quality beats quantity when it comes to your job search.
One properly tailored CV will produce a better return than twenty irrelevant or off-target ones. You need to ensure your CV is fully on-point, for each and every job application. If you do this properly, your hit rate will skyrocket.
The job market has become increasingly competitive in recent years. There are fewer jobs and more applicants. Therefore, it’s essential to make your CV stand out. Here are two simple, but crucial, ways to get better results from your CV.
You’ve probably heard about the importance of targeting your CV, but many people aren’t actually sure how to do this. It’s pretty simple. It starts with research.
Lots of people sit down to write their CV with nothing to guide them. You should never write your CV blind. Instead, only begin writing when you are clear on the role you are targeting. Once clear, the next stage is to start researching the job.
Compile a dossier of job advertisements for these sorts of roles. So, if you are targeting entry-level accountancy jobs, start searching online job sites and company websites. Through this, you’ll get a strong understanding of what employers are actually looking for.
Remember, the sole purpose of your CV is to land you an interview for a specific job. Your task is to demonstrate why you should be selected for interview. Print out between 5-10 job advertisements, and start making a list of the keywords and requirements that appear frequently. Then, consider how your studies or experience might match this.
Go through each requirement, and compile a description to demonstrate this. This doesn’t necessarily have to be through work experience, you’ll also have developed plenty of valuable skills through your degree or voluntary work.
Simply producing a document with your contact details and degree title isn’t enough. If a job advertisement asks for a trainee who has gained some experience within administration/accounting, you have to demonstrate this. Whether you have completed a work placement, a Saturday job or produced accounts within college, build on this experience within your CV.
The short profile at the beginning of your CV is also a great opportunity to sum up your experience, again, targeted to the role. Perhaps you have experience communicating confidently with customers, or double-entry accounting knowledge. The more your CV matches a job’s requirements, the better your chances of interview. Never write a CV, without a clear, researched, job target.
Your CV is not a fact sheet. It doesn’t exist solely to outline dates, jobs or degree titles. You have to ask yourself why a recruiter would choose you over all of the other applicants? What does your CV do to set you apart from the other accountancy or business studies graduates?
Don’t simply write a list of job responsibilities. Your CV isn’t just about what you were responsible for, but how well you did it. Always include accomplishments. This doesn’t mean including a specific section solely for achievements though, everything on your CV should be accomplishment-driven.
Writing achievements can be a challenge, especially if you’ve never written this way before. They are very different from responsibilities, but much more interesting. Here’s a step-by-step rundown.
Start with an action verb. What did you do? Did you initiate something, achieve it, communicate it or calculate it? Action verbs increase the strength of your writing and help to differentiate you from other candidates.
Relevant information. What do you want to convey? You’ve checked the job description, and perhaps the role requires that you can demonstrate a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail? Okay. So, you’ll have chosen your piece of experience relevant to this. Perhaps you led a project where you crosschecked accounting entries? This is where you bring it in.
Result. What was the result of this? Did you uncover errors? Rectify issues? What does this mean? Did you save time? Save money? Solve a problem? Perhaps your efforts resulted in efficiency savings that meant the project was delivered ahead of schedule, freeing up staff for other tasks?
Measurement. How do you measure this? For example, did your completion of the project increase efficiency by 25% through time saved? Or perhaps you save the company £10,000 by delivering the project ahead of schedule?
It’s important to make your achievements tangible and measurable, wherever you possibly can. Include numbers, percentages and detail. The more specific the better – but always keep it focused.
When starting to write about your achievements, always ask yourself what does this mean? What was the result of this? What was the benefit to my employer? This will help you bring out the true value in your statements.
Did you solve a difficult problem at university? How? What was the result of this?
Were you asked to run a workshop, or volunteer at college events? What does this show?
Perhaps you were a student representative? What would that demonstrate?
Some Example Achievements
Coordinated a new product launch that improved efficiencies and increased sales by 12%
Increased revenue by over £9000 during summer, by helping customers to fully understand products
Introduced a new time-management system, improving efficiency and saving £25000 on additional staffing costs
Successfully delivered a complex, time-sensitive project, earning a university excellence award
Only include relevant achievements and experience within your CV, targeted to a specific job.