So you found that perfect job, but now it’s time to click apply. How do you make sure your CV lands on the ‘interview’ pile? How can you make that one sheet of paper communicate just how valuable you are?
From senior recruiters and hiring managers, we outline our best tips and the burning questions and answers you wanted from our CV Review & Targeting Candidate Career Lab.
We said it once, and we’re saying it again - use powerful keywords! Many ATS platforms like LinkedIn often allows hiring managers to filter through the high volume by eliminating applicants that do not meet the suggested ‘keywords.’ It’s important that you scan the job description carefully and tailor your CV according to the kind of words they use often. For example, if it’s a sales role, keywords that are important could be ‘pitch,’ ‘relationship,’ ‘account,’ or ‘presentation.’ Obviously, bear in mind that the words make sense according to what you’ve done or can do, and are seamlessly integrated into sentences.
Q: Does the number of years you work at a company matter?
KJ: As we said in our Utilising Linkedin Effectively Lab, 12-18 months is usually a good minimum length of time spent in a role. Obviously, what you did at the company is important, but your role length also tells us a lot about yourself and whether you were actually able to make something of your role and contribute to the company.
Prerna: It’s also helpful to see how you progressed in that company. Say, it took you less than a year to get promoted into a more senior role within the organisation - that would be impressive for recruiters to see.
Specific Industry/Role Targeting
A targeted resume is all about focusing on the specific job you’re applying for. We know job hunting can be time-consuming, so we recommend having a core resume with your relevant experience, but changing your ‘Career Summary’ or headline section as it suits the position.
KJ: A resume that’s longer than two pages is often a dealbreaker from many hiring managers. It can be forgivable if you are quite senior in your career and have a lot of accomplishments to list, but the thing to keep in mind is that not all your experience might be critical enough to be mentioned for the role and that brevity is appreciated.
Rina: I agree, we don’t always need to hear about your first job if you’re 5+ years in your career. Something that also helps you stand out from the crowd is to be specific about your achievements and outcomes in your role. When you’re looking at Sales/BD, or Account Exec jobs, hiring managers already know what your job responsibilities were (it’s straightforward for most people), but what sets you apart is the results you achieved. For example, giving data like “I’ve exceeded the expected revenue target and achieved a total of 200%” or “Closed negotiation of a 5-year contract worth 600k.”
Prerna: Another thing I often see is when people write that they’ve worked in ‘APAC.’ It’s not a bad thing to generalise, but with regions like APAC, we’d like to see which particular countries and markets because from Singapore, Vietnam, to Hong Kong, they all work differently and require a distinct skill-set to excel in them.
Skills and Achievements
Your career history is only one part of a complete picture in a resume, but the skills and achievements section will demonstrate to employers what you bring to the table and where you’ll be able to go in the future. This is particularly important in systems/processes-heavy roles like Digital/Data and Tech.
Q: What is the best way to present your skills?
Prerna: I’ve seen many candidates just list them out, but I also see a handful using a ‘rating’ system. It truly depends on your confidence levels and your ability, to be honest with yourself and the CV reader, but the rating system does help for example if the job requires an extensive understanding of Python and you ranked that a 5/5 proficiency. In that case, it won’t really matter if your Java or AngularJS ratings are lower.
Q: How do I present my CV as a mid-career switcher?
Rina: This is really where expressing skills and achievements inside and outside your role can play an integral part. Look back at your previous roles or extracurricular activities and find attributes that can be associated with the prospective job. For example, if you’re a financial trader that’s looking to transition into a software engineer, it doesn’t hurt to highlight your finance experience including lots of statistical analysis, data optimization, and problem-solving that would be useful for a career in Tech.
KJ: The same rules apply for fresh graduates who don’t have much experience. What you do have is your academic history, clubs and societies you were a part of, and perhaps really excellent references from your teachers or internship managers on the potential you have. Include that and utilise them.