Follow these proven tips to blast your way to interview

Failing is inevitable. We're all human, after all. It's part of our job description. As the ridiculously successful Bill Gates says, “it is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” That's so true when it comes to CV failure. You want to make it as easy as possible for the recruiter to pick up your CV, pinpoint your strengths and assets straight away, and reach for the phone.

So do you find that you're not landing interviews when you know in your heart that you tick all the boxes and possess the relevant skills required to perform the job advertised? What's going on? It could be down to CV failure; your CV's just not hitting the right notes and is ending up in the bin every time. This may be due to a number of factors, so let's consider what you can do to avoid CV failure and mistakes and turn your prospects around to get you to the next stage of the recruitment process.

5 simple tweaks to avoid CV failure

1. Ensure ATS compliance throughout

It's only been in the last few years or so that ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) have been widely used by companies and businesses to manage CVs. It can be seen as an unfair way of choosing the candidates that go forward to interview because, if you don't know the tricks to employ, you could be at the bottom of the pile despite having extensive experience.

Keep these tips in mind when crafting your CV to ensure an ATS-friendly document:

  • Remove any boxes, tables, or company logos

  • Avoid graphic-style CV templates

  • Use Microsoft Word formatting

  • Insert plenty of keywords and phrases into the content of the CV to match the job advert

  • Use clear job titles that are easily recognisable 

2. Keep contact details short and sweet

Alarmingly forgotten on many CVs, your contact details are pretty important! Place them right at the top of the first page, where they can be found easily. All you need, for most countries, is your town and county (not your full address), an active mobile number, a professional-sounding email address, and a LinkedIn URL that's been personalised.

However, if you're applying for roles in different parts of the world, be sure to tailor your contact and other personal details, as some countries stipulate the presence of a photo, your date of birth, and nationality, among other requirements.

There's also no need to write, “Curriculum Vitae” at the top of your CV. So old school! It's like putting the word “book” on the front of an actual book. We all know it's a CV!

Top tip: Adding a footer with your name and relevant job title should boost your ATS score.

3. Compile a succinct and customised professional profile

The professional summary sits at the top of your CV, just under your contact details, and should be four or five sentences long, written in a paragraph, highlighting your strengths. Take the time to tailor it to each job role, picking out keywords from the job advert and incorporating them into your profile. Use your eagle eyes to check for any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes - something you should check and check again throughout the whole of the document before sending it off.

4. Apply a reverse chronological structure

CVs that start off with education details from the 1970s are an absolute no-no, and are certainly at the top of the list when it comes to CV failure. The hiring manager isn't interested in your O Levels from 1986, especially if you've achieved a Master's in Actuarial Sciences within the last couple of years!

So turn it all around to avoid CV failure.

reverse chronological CV is where you start with your most recent role, probably the one you're in right now. This is so the recruiter can immediately see where you're at currently. They can then track back your career history to see how you've progressed over the years. Your education section sits towards the end of the CV, unless you're a recent graduate.

5. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses

It might seem like an obvious statement, but think about the classic interview question, “what are your weaknesses?”, designed to test self-awareness and self-reflection. Whereas in an interview scenario it's advised to turn a weakness into a strength, on a CV you only want to show your strengths to get around CV failure.

Bonus tip - it's all about those achievements

Whether you're just starting out on your career journey or you're a seasoned executive, you're sure to be able to glean some achievements from your career or volunteering work. It might take a bit of drawing out, but will certainly offset CV failure as you'll gain the confidence to move forward once you realise how truly ace you are!

To avoid CV failure, let the professionals take control. Submit your CV for a free review and find out the difference between a poorly constructed CV and one that enhances your chances of securing that all-important interview.

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