How to sharpen up your CV
8th November 2010
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A Shrewsbury recruitment firm was recently looking for a Junior IT person for one of their clients and were amazed by the response. Over 400 applications and just one job... so where do you start shortlisting, asks Chimène Felton of Mercia Recruitment.

Here are some hints and tips to help ensure your CV is in the ‘short-listed’ pile rather than the ‘unfortunately your details aren’t suitable’ mound:

The first thing to do is read the job advertisement properly – don’t just see what you want to see.

Put yourself in the shoes of the employer – if they read your CV, how relevant is your background? Do you have the necessary skills and qualifications? Can you get to their place of work?

One of the biggest problems, however, is a CV / covering letter that is littered with mistakes – bad spelling, grammar, etc…

Using a spell check is good practice but unfortunately it's not fool-proof and doesn't ‘sense’ check. You can spell a word correctly but if it’s the wrong word for the situation you won’t be alerted to it – for example, "whether" and "weather" or "their" and "there".

It's hard to make a good impression if the employer has asked for someone who ‘prides themselves on the quality of their work and attention to detail’ when the candidate hasn't even bothered to double check the one thing that is supposed to sell them!

So print your CV off and get somebody you trust to check it through – it isn’t always easy to spot your own errors.

Spelling and grammar mistakes are quick and easy ways for companies to weed out weaker candidates when faced with a mountain of CVs to read. Mercia has even had CVs sent in where candidates have actually spelt their name incorrectly – a simple typing error usually but not a good way to impress!

Once you’re happy that your CV content is 100% correct (and don’t forget you should have many different versions of your CV depending on the role you are applying for), make sure you’ve used a sensible font. Arial is a good standard option. Whilst a fancy font and coloured paper might make your CV stand out, it could also do that for all the wrong reasons, so be careful.

A risqué or silly e-mail address might not prevent you from being considered for a role but it could make an employer think twice before contacting you – and with so many CVs they have to start shortlisting somewhere. A 'fun' e-mail address is fine for friends but if you are serious about looking for work, then a more sensible address (such as your name) would be better.

Similarly, whilst you might like ‘socialising with friends down the pub’, it’s not good to feature on your CV's Hobbies & Interests. (Social Media can be a fantastic research tool for employers, so check your privacy settings.) Your future boss may wonder how many times you will come in with a hangover or worry that you might take ‘sickies’ during the week.

Finally, if you’re applying for a role with a covering e-mail make sure it’s business-like. An e-mail in ‘text speak’ won't exactly encourage a professional to look at the CV. And using terms like ‘LOL’ and signing off with ‘x’ are fine for friends but not if you are looking for work!

It may sound like common sense, but Mercia has seen examples of all of these so make sure that your CV is not among them.

First impressions really do count.

To find out more about Mercia Recruitment, please call Chimene on 01743 454972 or send her an email.

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Emma R

Member since: 10th July 2012

That's our team, L-R Emma, Louise and Andy. We run thebestof and our sister marketing company, Key 3 Media. With over 40 years' combined marketing experience, we help promote local businesses through our...

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