It's no secret that January is the best month for job searching. When you combine a healthy new budget (over 50% of UK companies now start their financial year in January) with a hiring department fresh from their holidays, the result is a massive increase in job listings.
So how do you make sure you stand out from the crowd? Here are some tips and tricks from the recruiting industry to help you catch the eye of your dream employer.
What To Include In Your CV
1. A tailored bio
If there’s one thing everyone lacks, it’s time. Not even the noblest hiring manager will dedicate hours to reading CVs when they have 200+ applicants.
So give yourself an advantage: Write a one-paragraph summary of your CV and put it right beneath your name.
Make sure you include:
your current role and employer
your strongest achievement (see below)
your most relevant skills (read the job description!)
and why you’re interested in this position
The last one sounds like an unusual thing to include in your own CV, but it’s something that hiring managers always want to know: Why do you want to leave your current job and why do you want to work here? Answers on a postcard, please.
2. A list of your achievements
Once you’ve hooked your reader with your bio, the next thing to do is impress them. And what better way to do that than with proof of your prowess?
If you’re wondering how your primary school swimming badge could possibly be relevant to your career, you’ve cracked the first step: make your achievements relevant.
You’ve read the job brief (and if you haven’t by now, then you really need to rewrite your bio), so you already know what the employer wants. All you need to do now is show them evidence that you can do it. The way to do that is by using facts and figures.
Have a read of these achievements and see which one sounds more impressive to you:
Met my sales target each year.
Personally sold over 200 luxury clothing units each week for 18 months, exceeding my department's KPIs and resulting in a net sales increase of 40% year on year.
Facts and figures tell the same story from a completely different angle. They show what you've done, how often, and what the result has been. Without them, it can be hard to tell a good employee from a great employee.
Take a look at your current role and ask yourself what impact you’ve had on your workplace: what targets have you met or exceeded? What new methods have you implemented or created? Break each of your efforts down into figures.
3. Your work history.
A list of who you’ve worked for and what you’ve done will always be necessary, no matter how many times you update your CV. However, the way you write this section is just as crucial.
Think back to the person at the company you want to work for, who is skim-reading your CV. The quickest change you can make to your work history is simplifying it.
Endless paragraphs are hard on the eyes: use clear bullet points to help with flow. Long sentences with too many commas are slow and confusing: use short, clear sentences that provide information without any waffle.
You probably also have a few low-level responsibilities listed beneath your previous roles. Handling cash is important if you’re applying for entry retail roles, but if you’re ten years into your career or at executive level, drop it from your CV.
On that note, the part-time role you had six jobs ago doesn’t need its own set of bullet points anymore. Remove the details and just keep the role, the name of the employer and the dates you worked there. Anything else is just unnecessary.
4. Your education.
If the recruiter has read this far down, they are ticking boxes at this point. Keep your education section brief. The name of your university, your degree, your result, and the years you attended are all that's needed for most CVs.
If you’re still in your twenties, it can be worth including your A-Level results and the name of your school. Some of the top employers look for As and A*s prior to higher education.
However, remember to keep it simple. “Geography A, Maths A*, History B” or “Three A Levels A*-B” is more than enough. And if you didn’t do brilliantly, then don’t put the grades in at all.
5. Your interests.
Interests are a subject of some debate for recruiters. Some like the way they give them a sense of the person outside of work, whereas some find them pointless or believe they should already know who you are from the rest of your CV.
Our advice? If you’re over 1 or 2 pages already, there’s no need to include your interests. But if you have a little space, then there’s no harm in including a few of your hobbies, values, or voluntary activities.
Again, consider the job brief and the company you’re applying to when you word this section. You shouldn’t lie, but a “passion for classic cars” is more likely to appeal to a luxury brand than a passion for late-night drag racing.
Are references important?
It depends on your definition. If your boss has given you a written recommendation, is that worth quoting on your CV? Absolutely.
But the contact details of your referees? No.
If you have any space left over, you can state that “references are available upon request”. If not, you are not even required to put that.
Extra details take up valuable space on the page and make otherwise snappy CVs look long and complicated. We know you need referees, you know you need referees, so why mention them at all?
Wait until you reach the stage where you are asked for your references. Then, share them with your hiring manager. Otherwise, it’s only a waste of space.
Ready to get started?
Give these tips a go and see how much you like the look of your 2022 CV compared to last year's. We'd love to hear how you get along in your job search!
And if you get stuck on narrowing down your achievements or coming up with a punchy bio, keep an eye on our socials this January for our upcoming guides on each section.