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CV Tips: A Recruiter's Guide

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Stephen Robinson is a Talent Acquisition Specialist working on permanent petrochemical roles for a number of global clients. He started out at Fircroft as a Graduate Resourcer, and has since been promoted.

I would like to share my knowledge in order to increase quality job applications. The majority of candidates I work with have decades of experience, and certainly don’t need to be told how to write a CV – but there are a few pointers I would like to share to help make your CV stand out from the hundreds of other applicants when applying for your next job.

1. Start your CV with a strong Executive Summary. Cover sheets aren’t mandatory in recruitment anymore, and many clients are now asking us to submit applicant details through online portals, so a stand-out opening paragraph on your CV is essential. The biggest impact on your CV should be at the beginning, before the client has read about any of your experience in detail. How many years experience do you have? Are you in a senior position? Who have you worked for? Consolidate the most impressive information into a few strong sentences at the beginning.

2. Demonstrate your technical abilities. If you get to interview stage, there is a very strong chance you will be asked technical questions, so it is important to describe your skills and technical abilities in detail on your CV. Don’t leave the client guessing what you may or may not have experience in; list your main strengths, followed by other technical skills you have gained. Talk about products as well as processes – specifics should not wait until interview stage, and the fine details may be the deciding factor between you and another applicant being invited for an interview.

3. Don’t be afraid to exceed the “two page limit” myth. Many applicants attempt to force years and years of extensive technical experience onto just two pages, which in many cases is impossible, and as a result may lack crucial detail and lose credibility in the application process. Employers are looking out for the names of companies you have worked for, as well as project names and values. Obviously your CV shouldn’t be 20 pages long, but if you list each job you have worked on along with three or four strengths which will make you stand out from the crowd, it doesn’t matter if your CV is a few pages longer than average.

4. Explain which companies you have worked for. Even if you have worked on big projects, there is no guarantee that a potential employer will be familiar with it. When stating who you have worked for, it’s a good idea to put a brief introduction about what the company do and what they produce, just to clarify the types of industries you are familiar with.

5. Tell the truth! Be clear with dates of jobs and give a brief explanation as to why you left. No explanation is needed if you have stated that you were employed on a fixed contract basis, but if any roles were permanent it is a good idea to explain why you left. Companies will do CRB and background screening checks, not to mention contacting previous employers for references – so make sure everything on your CV is accurate.

6. Give a brief description of your personal information. Including your notice period, expected salary and marital status are all useful, as this gives an employer an indication as to when you would be available. Including your marital status is by no means essential, but it is helpful if you are considering mobilisation as this will indicate if you need a single or family status Visa to move overseas.

7. Sell yourself. The most important aspect of writing a CV is to give yourself credit and demonstrate why the employer should progress your application to interview stage. Focus on your key skills and strengths, and describe your seniority – for example, if you have managed or trained other members of staff, this will be a definite advantage to your skillset.

Overall, the most important factor within your CV is detail. Being generic is not going to make you stand out, and that's exactly what your CV should do; differentiate you against other applicants.

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CV Tips: A Recruiter's Guide - Time to read 4 min
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