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Answer these 3 questions to get the most from your CV

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Everyone has an opinion on what way a CV should look. We all ask ourselves the same questions – Is it too long or too short? How many pages should I use? What way should I layout my CV? Is it too wordy? Do I have enough information on it?

These are all relevant questions but they’re not the first questions you should be asking. What you really need to ask is, how do I get my CV found? What will make it stand out? And will it be remembered?

How are CVs found?

To help us find your CV you need to include the right keywords. Every recruitment agency has a database full of CVs. Cpl has over a million people on its system – that’s a lot of CVs! There are a number of methods recruiters use to find the right people for the job, the most common of which is a Boolean search.

This search string includes the profession, the field or sector, relevant software etc. These are all keywords that help to narrow our search to the right candidates. The more relevant keywords on your CV, the more likely it is that we’ll find you. For example, if I’m looking for a Civil Cad Technician, my search would look like this:

Civil AND (“cad technician” OR “cad tech” OR “civil designer”) AND (autocad OR navisworks OR solidworks OR “cad 3d” OR revit OR linsig OR windes) AND (design OR drainage OR road OR traffic OR transport)

This search is designed to identify the CVs of all of the candidates that have the skills and experience I’m looking for. If your CV has each of the required, you will be right that the top of the list. However, if you don’t use any of the words in brackets on that list, you’ve been ruled out of my search before I ever even see your CV.

How will my CV stand out?

Sometimes less really is more. You don’t need graphs, graphics or any sort of elaborate layout. Keep it simple and to the point. The first two thirds of your CV is crucial. List your work experience here in sequence from the most recent. For your two most recent jobs go into slightly more detail than your earlier experience.

Don’t say what the job entailed, instead explain what you did. What were your responsibilities? What software did you use? Again, remember to include keywords and focus on your successes. Talk about projects completed, goals achieved and targets exceeded. This will help your CV stand out.

How will my CV be remembered?

Your CV will be remembered by keeping it simple and including relevant information. Use keywords where necessary, include projects you have worked on and what exactly your role was in said projects. Use bullet points rather than paragraphs and get straight to the point.

Make use of the white space on your CV – keep it tidy and easy to read. Think about the role you are applying for – recruiters aren’t looking for someone who can do anything. We want to find the perfect candidate for a specific job, so focus each section on the requirements for the role.

Most of all, remember that your CV will be found, recognised and remembered based on its content not elaborate design or a clever layout.

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