How a young person can improve their CVGetting that first real job can be one of the most difficult steps in a young person’s career. When you have little or no work experience, it can be a real challenge to get noticed by potential employers and invited to that all-important interview.
That’s the bad news, the good news is that everyone has had to start at the beginning. Experienced people do not just step off a conveyor belt, they all started their careers with an entry-level position. If they can do it, so can you.
What is a CVContrary to popular opinion, a CV is not there to get you a job, it’s there to win you an interview.It’s a marketing document that jobseekers use to sell themselves to prospective employers by showing off their skill sets, knowledge, abilities and experience.Ideally is should be a maximum of 2 pages long, concise, well laid out, easy to read and targeted at the vacancy being applied for. It must be designed to stand out from the CVs of other applicants and contain information that will make you look attractive to a recruiter.
Why a good CV is importantIn the modern world of job hunting Hiring Managers can receive 100’s of CVs for vacancies they advertise. Because of this volume, they can spend no more than 15 seconds looking at a CV and making a decision on it. In these situations, first impressions count, meaning it’s vital that you have a high impact and powerful document that quickly communicates your most relevant qualities.TIPS ON IMPROVING YOUR CV
Target it at the jobTo maximise the impact of your CV its always best to aim it at the job you are applying for. Do this by researching the role (reading the job description), making a list of the exact duties you will be required to perform and then mentioning these word for word in your CV. Essentially, you are using the job description as a guide and trying to match your CV to it.
Save time with a ‘Master CV’
Consider having a pre-written ‘Master CV’ that already has your basic details in it, i.e. contact information, academic qualifications and any work experience. You now have a CV template that you can quickly tweak, customise and update when you find a new job you wish to apply for. What if your skills don’t match the job adverts requirements?
If you’re struggling to match your skills to a vacancies requirements, then you may have to conclude that the role isn’t for you. There’s no point in applying for positions that you’re not suitable for and have no realistic chance of getting. You will just be wasting your time and the employers. The silver lining in this type of scenario and in discovering that you are not fit for a particular role is that you will saveyourself valuable time that you canuse to applyfor jobs you have can get.Make it search friendly to get past an ATSThese-days many employers use pieces of software called Applicant Tracking Systems to receive, process, store and search submitted CVs. Meaning that there’s a good chance your CV will hit an ATS wall and be rejected before a person even sees it.To get past these robotic gatekeepers you have to write you CV for two audiences, the ATS and a human. Keyword optimisation is the way to overcome this problem. This is because an ATS scans CVs for information that matches what’s in a job description and then scores each one accordingly. As previously mention, its vital to have keywords from the job description in your CV. The best place to find these phrases is in the job advert, other similar vacancies or even the employer’s website. Once you get a list of these, then subtly sprinkle them in the right places to show the ATS that you have what it takes to be considered for the vacancy.Use a skills based CV formatAlso known as functional CVs, these skills-based CVs are ideal for job seekers with limited work experience. They will leverage your transferable skills and focus on those competencies which you have picked up over time through school, extracurricular activities or even at home and which can be applied to a range of jobs and industries.Personal SummaryWay too many applicants lose the reader at the beginning with a poorly written opening statement.
This short paragraph at the top of your CV is an ideal opportunity for you to personalise your application and set the tone for it. Through bite-sized sentences not only explain that you have what they are looking for but also possess the required enthusiasm and future potential.
Tip - Research prospective employers
One simple way to beef up your personal summary is to investigate the potential employer and then mention your findings in it. Do this by going online to find out something positive or interesting about the company. This could be a press release about a new product launch or the opening of a new store. A recruiter is sure to be impressed with the time and effort you’ve taken to look into them.
Work experienceLack of real-life work experience can be a major hurdle to overcome. A way round this is to classify what you have learnt through work shadowing, work placements, volunteering, charity work and casual summer jobs as work experience. These can be classified as ‘transferable skills’.
No career history at all?
If you have never been employed then you may wish to leave this section out completely. You may also want to start taking steps to rectify your shortcoming and gain some background through charity work, hobbies, apprenticeships or volunteering. This way you’ll have something to put on your CV in the future.ApprenticeshipsAn apprenticeship can help you to plug the all important experience and skills gap. It’s an excellent way of gaining hands-on work experience in a real-world environment. Not only will you get a mixture of on-the-job training with classroom learning, but you will also be paid, so you earn whilst you learn.Good grammar and spellingNo matter how qualified you are or how good your CV is, any lack of attention you pay to drafting and editing your CV can be your downfall.A surprising number of candidates are rejected because of simple grammatical errors. It seems that with the advent of mobile texting and social network sites quite a few people have forgotten that there are certain rules when writing a formal document. You should never submit your CV unless you have thoroughly scrutinised the final version. Keep it error free by using a spell-checker and also by having someone else, like a capable friend or family member go over it for spelling mistakes and to check it makes sense.ConclusionA memorable and readable CV can be just the ticket to get you that initial foot in the door and secure an interview. Though, as with most things in life, success is down to how much effort you put into it. With a little bit of endeavour and the right amount of enthusiasm, research and professionalism there’s nothing to stop you from writing a CV that will make your application stand out and allow you to get in.