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Charlie Rawstron 29.05.2015 Careers Advice

Five steps for writing a job winning CV

In skilled sectors – such as digital and marketing – we regularly see roles with 10s, if not 100s of applicants for every job advertised. In such a competitive market how can you make sure that your CV stands out?

Hiring managers are reportedly receiving almost 100 applications for every job they advertise. That average is for the whole of the UK though, and is likely even higher in London’s hyper-competitive jobs market – particular for sought after roles in marketing, communications and digital.

Significantly, more than half of all applicants will be qualified and suitable for the job. That means that an applicant’s CV is all the more important at making a candidate stand out from the crowd and ensuring that they secure an interview.

Fortunately, though, crafting a job winning CV isn’t rocket science if you devote a little bit of time and effort and follow five general rules.

# 1 Get the basics right

Don’t be that person who writes that they are an expert in ‘pubic relations’, or be the one who states that they always give decisions ‘dew diligence’. The first priority, above all others, should be to ensure that your CV is typo-free, in a clear and legible font and size, and neatly laid out with plenty of white space. Laszlo Block, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google wrote a LinkedIn post last year setting out the biggest mistakes he sees in CVs – all of which can be easily dealt with by getting the basics right. Advice from a company that sometimes receives upwards of 50,000 CVs a week must be worth listening to, right?

#2 Focus on accomplishments, as well as responsibilities

A rule of thumb is that a description of a past role should contain at least as much detail on accomplishments as it does spelling out responsibilities. A recent Harvard Business Review article elaborates: ‘Writing “I managed a team of 10” doesn’t say much. You need to dig a level deeper. Did your team members obtain promotions? Did they hit their targets?’ Wherever possible, give tangible, concrete examples. If you can attach percentages of monetary value, recruiters will pay even more attention. So much emphasis is now placed on ROI and as marketing and digital marketing roles grow, CMO’s and CDO’s are keen to understand what return they will get from any budget you are looking after.


#3 Sell yourself, but be honest

Everyone looks forward to that episode of The Apprentice, when the remaining candidates’ have their CVs intensively scrutinised by Lord Sugar’s attack dog interviewers. It isn’t just aspiring youngsters who make the mistake of putting outright lies on their CVs though. Just Google ‘CEO fired over CV lies’ and you’ll get the picture. In a competitive jobs market how can you best sell yourself without lying? Only list qualifications and posts you have actually completed or held, but don’t omit skills just because you don’t have a certificate: spell out clearly where you are learning or have self-taught skills that might be of benefit to a new employer, for example. Make the most of what you do have, but never lie.


#4 Align your online presence

These days your LinkedIn profile is just as important as your CV. For those in the market for digital marketing and communications jobs it is absolutely vital that you possess a decent online presence. Got a personal Twitter, Instagram or Facebook account? A recent article in Forbes suggests that employers ‘check candidates’ online accounts to make sure there aren’t any horrible red flags’, but also because ‘it may be a fairly accurate reflection of how good they’ll be at their job’. Consider making your personal social media private or removing anything that might put off a future employer. You should aim for an online presence that corroborates and amplifies the persona you put across in your CV.


#5 Finally, conclude with a short section about your non-professional life

In a competitive marketplace hiring managers are looking for signs that you are a fully functioning human being!! A little bit about how you find work-life balance, whether through sports, culture or hobbies helps to humanise your CV and reveal a little about your personality. In creative and people-orientated sectors, like marketing and business development, these soft people-skills are often most obvious in this sector, so be sure to include something!

Hopefully you’ll be able to apply some of this advice to your own CV and improve your chances of getting your dream job. Why not perfect your CV and apply for one of the many marketing, communications and digital jobs currently live on the jobs pages?

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